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Bewitched Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

It almost doesn't seem possible that "Bewitched" could have been a hit. After all, the comedy, which aired on ABC from 1964 to 1972, followed the marriage of a witch (played by Elizabeth Montgomery) to a mortal (Dick York, and later, Dick Sargent), along with their home lives, which included frequent drop-ins by her often combative extended family of witches and warlocks. Sounds absurd, and had it been done purely for broad laughs — like the 2005 feature film version, starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell — it might have been campy nonsense. 

But the show — created by Sol Saks and co-produced and frequently directed by Montgomery's husband, William Asher – relied on its talented cast to help sell the broad premise and often surreal storylines. Montgomery, York, and Sargent played their roles as real people, and let the supporting cast — an impressive array of legendary players that included Agnes Moorehead (as Montgomery's mother, Endora), Maurice Evans (her father), and a rotating list of comic scene-stealers (Paul Lynde's Uncle Arthur) and veteran actors like Bernard Fox (Doctor Bombay), Alice Ghostley (housekeeper Esmerelda) and Marion Lorne (bumbling Aunt Clara) — make the unbelievable seem both hilarious and natural. 

That combination helped make "Bewitched" a huge ratings hit for its first five seasons and an evergreen favorite in syndication. Unfortunately, many of its beloved players have passed away since the show ended its network run. Following is a list of "Bewitched' actors you may not know have died.

Dick York played the first Darrin until tragedy struck

From its debut episode in 1961 until the end of Season 5, actor Dick York played Darrin Stephens, a New York advertising executive and husband to Elizabeth Montgomery's Samantha. The crux of many episodes, and much of the show's humor, was drawn from Darrin's wish for his wife to give up witchcraft, and the endless scenarios, as well as a host of meddling relatives, that prompted her to twitch her nose and cast a spell. York, an effortlessly funny actor and consummate straight man, received an Emmy nomination for his work on "Bewitched" in 1968.

Shortly after earning that nomination, York left the series, and was replaced as Darrin by actor Dick Sargent. York had suffered from debilitating back pain due to an accident on the set of the 1959 move "They Came to Cordura." The injury was complicated by the development of a degenerative spine condition and an addiction to prescription painkillers; after collapsing on the set during the filming of the fifth season episode "Daddy Does His Thing," York left the series, and sought to control his health issues.

Though he recovered from his medication dependency, York never returned to full health. He returned briefly to acting in the 1980s following a near-two decade absence, but emphysema further weakened his already fragile condition. He spent his final years as an advocate for homeless causes until February 20, 1992, when he died from complications of emphysema at the age of 63.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Agnes Moorehead was Endora, the mother of all mothers-in-law

Making the day-to-day miserable for Darrin Stephens was Samantha's formidable mother, Endora. Several millennia old, with a taste for outrageous fashion and a circle of friends that included Julius Caesar and Attila the Hun, this powerful witch was completely opposed to her daughter's marriage to a mortal, dishing out acidic put-downs of Darrin in nearly every appearance. Chief among these was her seemingly deliberate inability to remember his first name, referring to him instead as "Durwood," "Darwin" and other zingers.

Actress Agnes Moorehead — an equally formidable presence on stage, radio, and in features like "Citizen Kane," plus a four-time Oscar nominee with an Emmy and two Golden Globes among her many laurels – played Endora throughout the entire series run of "Bewitched." Though initially reluctant to join the series, Moorehead found that its popularity not only extended her career for several decades, but also provided her with eight years of steady income. A diagnosis of uterine cancer lead to Moorehead's death at the age of 73 on April 30, 1974.

Dick Sargent: a kindler, gentler Darrin No. 2

When Dick York's health issues forced him to depart "Bewitched" at the end of Season 5, actor Dick Sargent stepped in to essay the role for the series' remaining three seasons. A likable lead in both drama and comedy, Sargent brought a different energy to the role. As Elizabeth Montgomery herself noted in the book "Bewitched Forever," "Darrin was becoming a more easygoing presence. He would lapse into this kind of complacency [about witchcraft] and maybe into something that he might just enjoy for a minute or two."

Sargent, who worked steadily in television and features after "Bewitched" was canceled in 1972, also made headlines in 1991 for coming out as gay, a decision he said that was motivated by the high rate of suicide among young gay men. He remained friendly with Montgomery, and even shared grand marshal duties with her for the Los Angeles Gay Pride parade in 1992. Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1989, Sargent died from the disease at the age of 64 on July 8, 1994.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

David White was Bewitched's Mad man, Larry Tate

The "Tate" half of McMann and Tate, the advertising agency that employed Darrin throughout "Bewitched," was represented by his boss, Larry Tate. The profit margin was Larry's primary focus, even if it meant upending all of Darrin's efforts to land a client. Despite this, the two men were friends outside the office, and Darrin managed to keep Larry blissfully unaware of Samantha's magic, even in situations like the Season 2 episode "Double Tate," where she transforms Darrin into Larry in order to help with a major client.

Actor David White made his debut as Larry Tate in the Season 1 episode "It Shouldn't Happen to a Dog," and remained with "Bewitched" until its conclusion in 1972. The show was perhaps White's best-known screen project, though he appeared in numerous television series like "The Twilight Zone," plus several classic films, including "The Apartment." White's last acting role came in a 1989 short, "Mergers & Acquisitions," which again cast him as a business executive; he died of a heart attack at the age of 74 on November 27, 1990.

Two actresses played the ultimate nosey neighbor, Gladys Kravitz

The epitome of the intrusive neighbor on television, Gladys Kravitz lived with her husband, Abner, next door to the Stephens, and spent the majority of her time attempting to convince him and anyone within earshot that something strange was occurring behind their closed doors. That she was unable to do so for the entire seven seasons in which she appeared (the Kravitzes are absent from the final season of "Bewitched") may have been due to her testy nature and constant, almost pathological need to snoop on others.

Gladys Kravitz was played by two actresses during the network run of "Bewitched": Alice Pearce, a comic presence in features and on television, stage, and in films since the 1940s, played the role in its first two seasons. Pearce had been diagnosed with a terminal case of ovarian cancer prior to joining the series, and kept her illness a secret until it claimed her life at the end of the second season on March 3, 1966. Soon after, Pearce was posthumously awarded an Emmy for her performance.

The producers of "Bewitched" decided to continue with Gladys and cast actress Sandra Gould in the role. Gould, who shared a similar career track of comic performances dating back to 1942, managed to make Gladys an even more abrasive but still funny character; after "Bewitched," she worked on TV and in films until 1999, when she died of a stroke on July 20 of that year — three days before her 83rd birthday — in Burbank, California.

Paul Lynde: from warlock to Hollywood Square

Samantha's warlock uncle, Arthur, made his debut in the Season 2 episode "The Joker is a Card." He was almost the direct opposite of his imperious sister, Endora, and the many aunts that turned up unannounced at the Stephens' home. Though an inveterate practical joker, Uncle Arthur actually approved of his niece's marriage to Darrin; on several occasions, he even defended the couple, most notably in Season 5's "Samantha's Power Failure," where his position briefly caused him to lose his magical powers.

Uncle Arthur was played by actor Paul Lynde, who actually made his "Bewitched" debut in a completely different role, playing a nervous driving instructor in Season 1's "Driving is the Only Way to Fly." Lynde, an archly comic performer on Broadway and in numerous features, enjoyed a near-constant presence on television in the 1960s and 1970s thanks to regular appearances on game shows like "Hollywood Squares," variety series, cartoons, and comedy specials like the campy "Paul Lynde Halloween Special," which paired him with Margaret Hamilton and Kiss.

Off-camera, Lynde struggled with alcoholism, and was arrested for public intoxication on several occasions. He gained sobriety in 1980 and attempted to right his faltering career that same year by returning to "Hollywood Squares," which he had departed in 1979. On January 10, 1982, friends who had noted Lynde's absence from a birthday party broke into his Beverly Hills, California home and found the 55-year-old dead from a heart attack.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Bernard Fox: the (witch) doctor is in

Given that "Bewitched" concerns an extended family of witches, it only makes sense that their medical issues would be addressed by a witch doctor. Enter Dr. Hubert Bombay (played by Bernard Fox), a jolly British warlock who always materialized in a unique costume (toreador, Inuit furs, bath towel) and dispensed remedies to Samantha. More often than not, these treatments caused havoc, much to Darrin's dismay.

Welsh actor Bernard Fox had been a staple of television series on both sides of the Atlantic since the mid-1950s. He was almost unavoidable on American TV in the 1960s, thanks to recurring roles on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "Hogan's Heroes," and worked steadily over the next four decades in countless episodic series, including reprisals of Dr. Bombay on "Tabitha" and the soap opera "Passions."

Fox had an equally long career in features, which included "The Rescuers Down Under," "The Mummy," and two appearances in films about the Titanic — 1958's "A Night to Remember" and 1997's "Titanic" (his character survived in the latter, but not in the former). Fox died from heart failure at the age of 89 in Van Nuys, California on December 14, 2016.

Alice Ghostley added laughs as klutzy witch/maid Esmerelda

Dick Sargent wasn't the only new cast member in Season 6 of "Bewitched." The second episode of that season, "Samatha's Yoo-Hoo Maid," , introduced Esmerelda, the Stephens' anxious new maid. Played by TV and film vet Alice Ghostley, Esmerelda was also a witch, although her powers appeared to be in need of repair: she would conjure unexpected spells whenever she sneezed, and a fit of nervousness frequently caused her to become invisible.

Despite these liabilities, Esmerelda remained with the Stephens for the remainder of the series, and frequently served as nanny to both Tabitha and Adam. Many sources cite Esmerelda as a replacement for Aunt Clara, an equally bumbling witch played by Marion Lorne, and Ghostley had been previously considered to replace her friend, Alice Pearce, as Gladys Kravitz.

Ghostley's long screen career began in the 1950s and included a diverse array of films, from "To Kill a Mockingbird" to "Grease." But television was her most consistent showcase, and included appearances on "Hogan's Heroes," "Kolchak: The Night Stalker," and "Evening Shade." Ghostley also received an Emmy nomination for her recurring role as an offbeat neighbor on "Designing Women." After suffering a series of strokes and a cancer diagnosis, Ghostley died at her home in Studio City, California on September 21, 2007,

Samantha's father came from the Planet of the Apes

Samantha's father, Maurice, made his first appearance on "Bewitched" in the Season 1 episode "Just One Happy Family," and to Darrin's dismay, he proved to be as difficult as his estranged wife, Endora, and their extended family. His genteel appearance and manners didn't quite cover up his terrible temper and dislike for Darrin, whom Maurice briefly disintegrates in his debut appearance. Like Endora, Maurice is unable (or unwilling) to remember Darrin's name, and refers to him by any number of soundalike monikers ("Dustin").

Emmy-winning British actor Maurice Evans, a mainstay of Shakespearean theater productions on both sides of the Atlantic, played the role of Maurice. The character's first name was pronounced "Mawr-eese," and he professed a dislike for the other pronunciation, "Morris," which was how Evans' first name was actually said. In addition to his stage career, Evans also worked frequently on American television and in features, most notably as Dr. Zaius in "Planet of the Apes" and as Mia Farrow's ill-fated friend, Hutch, in "Rosemary's Baby." Evans died at the age of 87 in his native England on March 12, 1989.

The suburban Zen of George Tobias as Abner Kravitz

All Abner Kravitz wanted to do was read the paper. Occasionally, he also liked to play the flute. However, these leisurely pursuits were almost always interrupted by his wife, Gladys, whose constant snooping on neighbors Darrin and Samantha always seemed to turn up evidence of supernatural shenanigans. Abner's usual response was to roll his eyes and return to his paper (or flute).

Veteran actor George Tobias played Abner in 54 episodes of "Bewitched," beginning with "Be It Ever So Mortgaged," Episode 2 of the series' debut season in 1964. Tobias, whose film career started in the 1930s, appeared in nearly every film genre, from musicals like "Yankee Doodle Dandy" — one of several features which partnered him with screen star James Cagney — to dramas ("Mildred Pierce") and Westerns. In the 1950s, he worked largely in television, and over the next 20 years, added episodes of "The Man from U.N.C.L.E," "The Waltons," and many other series to his large c.v.

When "Bewitched" ran its course in 1972, Tobias logged a few additional screen gigs before reprising Abner Kravitz for 'Tabitha," the "Bewitched" spin-off. That appearance proved to be his last: Tobias died from bladder cancer on February 27, 1980 at the age of 78.

Marion Lorne's Aunt Clara was the Stephens' favorite

Of the many extended relatives who intruded on the Stephens each week on "Bewitched," Marion Lorne's Aunt Clara stood out for two reasons: she invariably entered their home through the chimney instead of the traditional materialization employed by Endora and others, and she was the only member of Samantha's family that Darrin could actually tolerate. Clara was also distinguished by what could be politely described as "waning" magical abilities: her spells invariably went awry, which required her, and by extension, the Stephens to correct the issue.

Aunt Clara was played by Marion Lorne, a veteran of the American and Broadway stage whose career began at the turn of the 20th century. By the 1950s, Lorne was working frequently on television, with occasional forays into features like Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train." She began her tenure on "Bewitched" in its first season, and logged more than 25 appearances over the next three seasons. Prior to the start of Season 5, the 84-year-old Lorne died of a heart attack on May 9, 1968.

For her performance, Lorne received a posthumous Emmy Award in 1968, the same year that her final film role in "The Graduate" was released. She appeared in that film opposite Alice Ghostley, who later joined the cast of "Bewitched" as Esmerelda, a wacky witch who, like Clara, was plagued by wonky powers.

Reta Shaw was one of five actresses to play Aunt Hagatha

Aunt Clara wasn't the only member of Samantha's extended family to make her presence known on "Bewitched": over the course of the series' eight-season run, 1164 Morning Glory Circle (the Stephens' address) was visited by a host of aunts, including Hagatha, Enchantra, and Grimalda. Like several other supporting characters, five different actresses played Hagatha — who ran a school for witches and served on a Witch Certification Committee with Endora and Enchantra — including Nancy Andrews and Diana Chesney, who also played Enchantra in one episode. However, actress Reta Shaw, who played Hagatha in two episodes, also played Bertha, a similarly intrusive figure whose connection to Samantha remained unspecified, in two other episodes.

Shaw, who appeared in numerous Broadway and screen musicals like "Mary Poppins," worked steadily on television from the early 1950s to her final TV appearance on "The ABC Afternoon Playbreak" in 1974. Between these projects, Shaw made recurring appearances, frequently as loud, imposing figures, on "The Lucy Show" and "Here's Lucy," "The Andy Griffith Show," and "I Dream of Jeannie." Shaw died from emphysema at her home in Encino, California on January 8, 1982.

Estelle Winwood was Witch Committee member Aunt Enchantra

Darrin and Samantha's daughter, Tabitha, shows signs that she may be a powerful witch in the Season 3 episode "Witches and Warlocks are My Favorite Things." So a trio of Samantha's aunts, who comprise the Witch Certification Committee, descends on the Stephens' home to ensure that she receives the proper training. Endora is, of course, in their number, as is Aunt Hagatha, who runs the school for witches. The third member of the committee is Samantha's Aunt Enchantra, who like Endora, has little good to say about mortals like Darrin.

As with Aunt Hagatha, three different actresses played Enchantra in three separate episodes: Diana Chesney, who also essayed Hagatha, Ottola Nesmith, and Estelle Winwood. All three performers had long careers, but the British-born Winwood was perhaps the most familiar of the trio thanks to numerous appearances on Broadway and episodic television. Her small screen credits included everything from "The Twilight Zone" and "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." to recurring appearances on "Batman" as Hilda, the jittery aunt of Carolyn Jones' guest villain, Marsha, Queen of Diamonds.

Winwood, whose film credits included Mel Brooks' "The Producers" and the Neil Simon-penned "Murder By Death," made her final screen appearance at the age of 97 in a 1980 episode of "Quincy, M.E." Four years later, she died in her sleep at the age of 101 on June 20, 1984.

Elizabeth Montgomery made witchcraft look easy

As witch-turned-homemaker Samantha Stephens, Elizabeth Montgomery had to do much more than wiggle her nose when casting a spell. She navigated two worlds at once — life with her mortal husband, Darrin, and a large, eccentric and often disapproving family of wizards and warlocks. But Samantha held her own with both factions with a combination of charm, determination, and feminism, plus more than a few spells and incantations.

Elizabeth Montgomery, the daughter of Hollywood star Robert Montgomery, had established herself as a talented player in features and on television for more than a decade before "Bewitched" hit the airwaves in 1964. She even netted an Emmy nomination for a 1960 episode of "The Untouchables," which co-starred her future "Bewitched" castmate, David White (Larry Tate). "Bewitched" — for which she played not only Samantha but her lookalike cousin Serena — was a sizable ratings hit, and propelled Montgomery to even greater stardom, as well as five Emmy and four Golden Globe nominations.

When "Bewitched" was canceled in 1972, Montgomery pursued more dramatic roles on television, earning three more Emmy nominations for playing the 19th-century accused murderer Lizzie Borden in "The Legend of Lizzie Borden" and an assault victim in "A Case of Rape," among other projects. She worked steadily on television until the mid-1990s, when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Elizabeth Montgomery died from the disease at her home in Beverly Hills, California on May 16, 1995 at the age of 62.