One unknown star of Bewitched was director of special effects,
Dick Albain. Willis Cook did the special effects for the brilliantly
magical pilot episode. However, Screen Gems brought Albain in on the
Bewitched production crew, as he had previously worked on the
movie Bell, Book and Candle for Columbia Pictures. He is credited
with inventing Samantha's "magic" vacuum cleaner and suitcases that
packed themselves. This was done using remote controls and invisible
wires to create the magical images that were an integral part of Bewitched.
When objects had to disappear from Samantha's hand, Montgomery would
freeze and Albain (or an assistant) would remove the object from her
hand. Then, the crew member was then edited out of the scene. The film
editing and special effects departments worked in unison to provide
viewers with a dazzling array of sets, pop-outs, spells, double roles
by the same actress, and much more.
There was always a lot of running around on the set. When Endora or Samantha would clean or decorate a room, the crew would come in and rearrange things while the actors kept their mark. Very seldom was it when the actors had moved during a magic scene on the set. This is because the crew would mark the lens where the characters arms were and filming would resume from that same position using two cameras for continuous movement. This series of pictures illustrates how the actors stayed on mark during a "pop-out" scene when Samantha test her powers to see if she can pop out when Endora's powers fail in 118. However, upon closer inspection of the frames, we can see how the magic is done. Notice the location of Endora's and Darrin's hands. Endora's hand is quite a bit lower in frame 4 than in 3. Darrin had moved his hand away from the book and was bringing it back toward the book in 3, yet in 4 his hand is on the book. Looking at his hand motion earlier, there are about 24-30 frames required for Darrin's hand to move from where it is in 3 to where it is in 4.
A Pop-Out Effect from 118
There was also an effect we call the "shrink-out" where one actors image was superimposed on the film to show them getting farther away, when in reality it was the same image of the character standing in the same spot, just shown decreasing in size over the background image.
A Shrink-Out Effect from 9
Gunsmoke, fireworks, and dry ice were used to create the smoky air conjured up by a witch's pop-out or the air in the Cosmos. In fact, Bernard Fox, who played Dr. Bombay, once recalled getting more than his britches burned when a ring of gunsmoke was set on fire to provide a flamboyant entrance.
A Theatrical Pop-out from 105 with Sparking Fireworks
Animation was used sporadically throughout the show to illustrate a transference of powers. In 78, Samantha sprinkles sparkles from a chalice onto Aunt Clara to reverse her age, so that she can remember a spell.
A Sparkly Animation Effect from 78
Endora Brings Venus to Life with a Glow in 233
Beyond the stop-motion animation pioneered by Willis O'Brien, the stopping and starting of film to make people appear and disappear, as well as simply drawing such effects directly on each frame of film, one of the more innovative and amazing effects was having a performer simultaneously appear in the same scene as two different characters interacting with him or herself as was done by Elizabeth Montgomery while playing the roles of Sam and Serena.
The way this was achieved before the computer age no doubt stemmed from the creation of purposeful double exposures in still photography. Filmmakers then realized that if half of a camera's lens was covered, half of the film stock would be exposed, but the other would not. Thus, an actor could perform on the exposed side, the film would then be rewound and the lens covering reversed, and that performer would then act his other part on the other half of the film and then appear to play opposite themselves in the same scene.
This technique left a visible seam down the middle of the footage, so such scenes were near always framed along some horizontal line in the picture that would effectively mask the effect. It also meant that such scenes had to be static, with no camera movement lest the effect be ruined. As technology has evolved, motion-control cameras and other computerized special effects innovations are used to relay these images on today's shows.
Of course, industrial grade fans (wind machines) were an important element on the set. Using localized air force often gave the appearance of a powerful, supernatural force entering or exiting the Stephens's home, as well as when the witches were seen flying. The actors would be suspended from wires by harnesses that were covered by their flowing gowns and a resistant air force was used to simulate their travels.
A Flying Scene from 127
The magic was never meant to dominate the show according to those on the crew. Writer Bernard Slade recalls, "we really didn't use any extravagant special effect...We kept things simple because we felt the magic was not all-powerful." Bill Asher has also pointed out that, "We did the same amount of dialogue as The Donna Reed Show or Father Knows Best, but we had to correlate the magic, which took some doing. After a while, we had it down to a science." Indeed they did, the special effects crew would receive the script just two or three days before rehearsal. So, the props were crafted and the "hocus-pocus" techniques were employed in a short amount of time.
Albain and his son worked for Screen Gems on both the I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched shows. In fact, many of Albain's oversized props and sets were used on both sets. Click Here to see photos of some of these shared elements. Due to the tension between the shared sets and scripts on the two shows, Asher developed a policy that no one that worked on Bewitched could also work on IDOJ. This meant that Albain, who oversaw the effects for both shows, had to choose where his alliance would be. Reportedly, IDOJ creator Sidney Sheldon doubled Albain's salary and he left Bewitched. At the studio, his special effects department was known as the "Dream Factory."
Screen Gems depended on Marlow Newkirk, Hall Bigger, Terry Saunders, John Bedowski, and Roy Maples to keep the magic brewing on the set after Albain left Bewitched.
Today, Albain and his family own ANA Special Effects in Van Nys, CA. This company supplies special effects equipment and personnel to the entertainment industry. From his company's web site:
It is not known if Albain's daughter, Gladys, was named after the character on Bewitched or if the character was named after her, but it is an interesting coincidence none the less.
IDOJ Crew at http://www.geocities.com/carpet6464/crew.html
Herbie J Pilato Bewitched Forever: The Immortal Companion to TV's Most Magical Supernatural Situation Comedy. The Summit Publishing Group, 2001.