Submitted by Big Dave as originally appeared in the July 1965 issue of TV Radio Mirror magazine.

       Purveyors of maternity news in Hollywood have antennae as delicate as those of the communications satellite that splatters television all over two hemispheres. Obstetricians and the mothers-to-be themselves have but a perfunctory use. They are needed only to confirm what is already known to the swamis. Other than that, they simply clutter up the stage.

       Accordingly, Elizabeth Montgomery's denials in early March that she was going to have a second child served no purpose other than to imbue the press with a surly impatience. Could she be quite that obtuse? How could she not know, when they did? Fortunately, as everyone surely knows by now, it didn't take long to clear things up. On the afternoon of St. Patrick's Day last March 17th, Elizabeth felt absolutely crummy on the set of Screen Gems' "Bewitched," and had to be sent home. The director, William Asher, so decreed. He carries a lot of weight with Elizabeth, being her husband as well. The local diagnosis was mild flu.

      That's what it looked like, too, and sounded like. Late that afternoon, however, Elizabeth learned happily from her doctor that symptoms can be deceptive. His news: come late October or early November, she would be a beautiful witch twice-blessed, as her baby son William would be having either a baby brother or sister.

      That did it. Elizabeth was scheduled to make an appearance that weekend at a convention in Washington, D.C. Instead she sent a wire of regret, including the information that "both Samantha and I will become mothers in the fall."

      Very shortly after, Harry Ackerman, a fellow of awesome executive dimensions at Screen Gems, said the same thing at greater length.

      "There will be a double blessed event on the 'Bewitched' series this coming season," announced Ackerman, who is executive producer of the show. "Elizabeth Montgomery is going to have a baby, and so is Samantha Stephens, the role Elizabeth portrays on the program."

       And so she is-Samantha. It's no trick at all. The "Bewitched" company had a brief rest in April; then, instead of waiting until August, resumed production in early May, with this little added starter. It was their plan to work right through until Elizabeth's condition made it prohibitive.

       Knowledgeable readers will have suspected by now that Elizabeth did know of her condition at the time she denied it. This doesn't have to be so, but it should be so. Why then the denial? The only plausible answer is that the announcement was delayed until the program's story line could be altered to fit Samantha's soon-to-be-obvious condition.

       Elizabeth's illness, though, on the afternoon of the evening she purportedly got the happy news was most certainly a fact.

       As it happens, this magazine-this writer-was the last of the working press to see her, less than three hours away from the moment of truth. As noted, she left the studio early, and this writer stayed on to talk to Asher. He is a casual, outspoken man with far fewer verbal inhibitions than his wife, but he said nothing of a second blessed event. He could have very easily, since he did talk ecstatically of their joy in son William Allen Asher, who was approaching his first birthday.

       The arrival of a second child assuredly is going to put Elizabeth and Bill into transports of happiness that soar beyond simple bliss.

       Young William Allen has turned pleasant living, for them, into rich and meaningful life, and is far and away the most enchanted thing that has ever happened to either.

       Now, come mid-autumn, you simply multiply William Allen by two, and it is problematical whether Elizabeth will even inhabit the same earth as other people.

Her husband's forecast

       Let us go back in time a bit and see exactly how Elizabeth arrived at her present, euphoric state.

       It was a year ago last Christmas season when Bill Asher, who married a witch, executed a nice piece of witchcraft of his own. He turned to his wife and said to her: "You're going to have a baby."

       So long as there are Bill Ashers around, the branch of medical science having to do with babies is practically superfluous. Because Mrs. Asher didn't know anything about it. Only Bill did.

       "I can't really describe it," is all he can depose today. "There was a glow about her. It was unmistakable. I didn't think it was going to happen. I knew it."

       Mrs. Asher believes everything Mr. Asher tells her, as a matter of course, but this seemed just a bit foolish.

       "You've been reading the wrong columns," she said to him finally.

       "Wait," he said. "Just wait."

       Life at Malibu that winter had been quite idyllic, packed with chess and bicycle riding, and also a little tense. The two had collaborated-she as a star, he as a field general-on the pilot of a TV show hopefully titled "Bewitched," and it was then being screened by TV execs about 2600 miles to the East, in the canyons of Madison Avenue.

       Ten days later, Bill came home from a stint of movie directing. Elizabeth-he does not call her Liz any more than Mr. Burton calls Mrs. Burton Liz-was not at home. She was marketing, up the road a way. But she had left him a note, perched upright in the prongs of the telephone. It quoted in part the lyric of a song from a New York show they had seen eight times, "How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." It was very pertinent.

       This is what the note said:

       " 'Waiting to say good evening, dear. I'm pregnant. What's new with you from downtown?'"

       From that day forward, Bill Asher has stood high among the ranks of the clairvoyants.

       Also from that day forward, things at the Montgomery-Asher ménage became almost unbearably lively.

       Four days after Elizabeth's ecstatic disclosure, "Bewitched" sold. Nothing to it. Except for this: William Allen Asher-not Junior-arrived nine days behind schedule, on July 24th, 1964, which neatly enough put the "Bewitched" series nine days behind schedule, and those are nine days they have never got back. To this moment, "Bewitched," a miracle of polished comedy, runs no more than a cool half-hour behind deadline! Every week is a cliffhanger, around their set.

       But who cares? Not the Ashers, they don't care!

       In chorus or alternately, here is what they had to say in the spring of 1965, on the very afternoon, actually, of the evening when they learned a new baby was on the way:

       "Junior-arrived nine days behind schedule, on July 24th, 1964, which neatly enough put the "Bewitched" series nine days behind schedule, and those are nine days they have never got back. To this moment, "Bewitched," a miracle of polished comedy, runs no more than a cool half-hour behind deadline! Every week is a cliffhanger, around their set.

       But who cares? Not the Ashers, they don't care!

       In chorus or alternately, here is what they had to say in the spring of 1965, on the very afternoon, actually, of the evening when they learned a new baby was on the way:

       "You can't say the baby makes all the difference." This is Bill, referring to young Bill. "Because that implies we weren't happy before him, which would be foolish. But-"

       "But you can say it," said Elizabeth, "in the same sense that he's given our lives a-well, an intensity of direction. All babies do, don't they? The show might have been enough. Or it might not. We'll never know.
But now-"

       "Now," said Bill, "we know just where we're going when we head home. We're going like pointers to young William Allen Asher, that's where we're going. Our days, especially Elizabeth's, are long, sometimes till-"

       "When I'm working," said Elizabeth, "I'm up at five-thirty, and when Bill's directing a segment, then he is, too. And we're not through till eight. That lets us get home and play a few minutes with the baby, and all of a sudden the whole day has been perfect-you know, fat and round and full-no matter what might have gone wrong. Then after that-"

       "After that," said Bill, "a late dinner. Then we watch TV or play chess or read until eleven or eleven-thirty. Technically, it doesn't seem like enough sleep but we're so wrapped up in the show some daytimes that we never notice it. Elizabeth's getting tired now, though. It's good the season's almost over."

       "Elizabeth is tired, and make no mistake," said Elizabeth, leaning her flu-heavy head back against the cushion. "But happy-oh, my! Still, I like to think of the time just after the baby came." She smiled.

Living like a queen

       Just after the baby came, Bill Asher abandoned Malibu and deposited his wife, his son and himself, plus of course a fulltime nurse, in a suite at the Hotel Continental on Sunset Strip, only minutes away from the studio, Screen Gems. "I wanted Elizabeth as close to work as possible and I wanted the hotel life for her while she was getting her strength back. Absolutely nothing to do. The hotel did it all. It was perfect for her, a very intelligent idea if I do say so myself. She was ready for work in three weeks and three days."

       "I could have made it in three weeks even," said Elizabeth.

       Now the Ashers, the three Ashers, live in a colonial house in Beverly Hills in a comradeship that is close indeed.

       If, for example, Bill is working early and Elizabeth has a late call, she does not drive to the studio. She uses either cab or a studio car. That way they are side by side in the dusk going back. They feel that's how they should be.

       A friend whose profession is throwing wrenches into idylls reminded them that Lucy and Desi lived that way, too, and look what happened. Asher, a cheerful man who does not ruffle, shook his head patiently. "There's no application," he said. "That wasn't the trouble with Lucy and Desi. That's just what people read into it. Believe me, there's no application at all. Is there?"

       "None," said Elizabeth. "Absolutely none, and you can believe us both. Look, have you shown him the pictures? Oh, wait till you see them!"

       The pictures were small color shots of baby William, and the exciting thing about them was that he had two front teeth. Just suddenly sprouted. The Ashers looked at the pictures over and over, as though there were no tomorrow. Finally Elizabeth sneezed on them.

       "That's it," said Asher. "Home you go."

       "But production-"

       "Never mind production. I'll take care of production." He phoned for a studio limousine, but quick! "I can shoot around you for two days. Besides, you don't want to give the press flu, do you? Not the press! What are we, in the suicide business?" But he did not smile. In a moment he had become profoundly concerned. It's true: When you love someone, a sneeze can give you a nervous breakdown. Flu-bedevilled Elizabeth obeyed, picked up her pictures and left.

       "You're the mastermind behind this thing," a visitor said to Asher, "and Elizabeth takes all the bows. Is that all right with you?"

       He laughed. "Listen. You've heard the old saw about directors making stars? Sure you have. Well, the opposite's true. Stars make directors. Besides, I love to have her take the bows. She's earned every bow of it."

       "And you don't think the show's going to hurt her in the long run? I mean, everybody waiting for her to disappear or wiggle her nose for the rest of her career, after this thing's through?"

       "No. An image can be broken with one new part. I'll tell you something funny about that nose twitch, though. When we just started out, they had Elizabeth over at the gallery for production shots. And when it seemed called for, she'd twitch her nose-for certain close-ups, you know. But someone had forgotten to tell the photographer about Samantha's trademark. Well, he didn't want to say anything, but when they were done he went over to the front office and told them, 'Look, this poor girl has some kind of tic and it's spoiling the head shots. Couldn't you have a doctor look her over?' Thank goodness he hadn't thrown away the negatives."

       "Par for the Hollywood course. Does Elizabeth like Hollywood all right now? Can she live with it?"

       "She loves it. She loves New York more, that's all. And the country upstate in New York even more than that. Pawling. Sees her mother there, and so forth."

       "And what does anyone hear from Uncle Bob?" Uncle Bob is Robert Montgomery, who is, of course, Elizabeth's father.

       "Oh, he's fine. You know something? I've been trying hard to get him to play Elizabeth's father in the series. But no soap so far. Maurice Evans did the part once this season. But maybe next year-Robert Montgomery.
Wouldn't that be something? I never give up. But he is very busy, this I know."

       Asher sighed and took from his wallet his set of the front-toothed pictures. He stared at them as though he'd never seen them before. One suspected for a second tears would come to his eyes. He shook his head.

Babies are the answer

      "Babies are the most wonderful invention," he said at last. "Elizabeth feels like this in spades. I can speak for her. Without this little party here, we would have been all right. Fine, in fact. But he's made a difference you can't imagine. He's given total purpose to everything we do and everything we are. Sometimes we want to hold the childless by the hand and console them. He's what it's all about. You know? The work, the hours, the headaches-because we're coming home to him and we know it. It's always with us.

       "The ratings-great. Being picked up for another season-wonderful. But-" He shrugged. "What if they dropped the show-knock wood? What then? The way Elizabeth and I figure, we'll just have that much more time to spend with our son. All day every day, if that's how it is. What's terrible about that? Everything else can wear out-and I speak for her, too. Success, money, your back and the people who slap your back. But never him. We had a life and it was a wonderful life. But looking back now, we both think it was just a fragment of a life. We even think that the people who have been kind enough to like 'Bewitched' are giving credits to the wrong people. We thank them, we really do, with all our hearts.

The big little difference

      "But nobody ever send the flowers where they belong-to William Allen Asher with the two front teeth. Elizabeth says she has three things in her life-the baby, me, the show. She's never said in what proportion these things matter. I know. You get along, you know, and you work and you love each other, and that's one kind of happiness. Then there comes your son, and there's a whole new happiness, spelled with a capital 'H' this time, and that's the answer to life. This is Elizabeth talking: 'Now the pattern is complete, the last piece in place. You have a God and you thank Him. They ask you if it makes any difference-makes any difference?-and all you can do is stand there with your mouth open. How can they ask?'"

       "That was my voice but the words are hers. You have my permission to quote her. No, more than that. You have my blessing."

       And on this blissful note-in the manner of the travelogues-we sail away from William Allen Asher, not Junior, and turn our face toward his impending brother. Or sister. Or-who knows?-maybe both.

       And for that matter, toward the impending witchling of Samantha Stephens, who is somewhat more than an astonishing coincidence.

       There is, presumably, only the trifling difference that Elizabeth Montgomery will be shopping for tiny garments while Samantha is shopping for tiny brooms.

       The new little Asher will be, as babies always are, pretty predictable. The nationwide problem, on the other hand, comes to this: Who's going to keep an eye on the Stephens kid? Not the television audience, one may be sure, or at least not all the time.

       It is, in fact, possible that Samantha's neighborhood is going to become a piercing headache by and by.

--John Maynard

Elizabeth stars in "Bewitched" on ABC-TV, Thursdays at 9:00 P.M. EDT.