Elizabeth Montgomery (Wikimedia Commons/publicity photo)
Elizabeth Montgomery enchanted a generation as friendly witch Samantha Stephens on TV's Bewitched. In honor of her on the day when she would have turned 80, here are eight facts you may not have known about the actress’s life and work.
1. She was the daughter of Oscar-nominated actor Robert Montgomery. Her first acting role was on his Emmy-winning television series, Robert Montgomery Presents.
2. Elizabeth Montgomery never won an Emmy like her dad did, but she was nominated nine times (plus three Golden Globe nominations). Her first Emmy nod was for a guest-starring role on an episode of The Untouchables, "The Rusty Heller Story."
3. Beginning in 1964, Bewitched was a huge success, and it ran for eight seasons (for most of which Montgomery played two characters – Samantha Stephens and her mischievous cousin Serena). The show was renewed for a ninth season on the strength of high ratings – indeed, ABC's highest ratings to date – but Montgomery backed out, wanting to pursue other projects.
4. Though Bewitched ended in 1972, Montgomery still had nose-twitches to offer. In the 1980s, she appeared in a series of Japanese commercials in which she reprised her witchy role.
5. It may be hard to imagine Montgomery as anything other than kind and lovable, but she played a villain against type in the 1985 TV movie Amos.
6. In her personal life, Montgomery was an activist for liberal causes (unlike her staunchly Republican father). She spoke out against the Vietnam War, and she was an advocate for gay rights, serving as Grand Marshal of the 1992 Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade along with former costar Dick Sargent.
7. Montgomery also volunteered with non-profit Learning Ally, an organization that records textbooks and other reading material for blind, dyslexic and disabled people. When Montgomery died at 62 – just eight weeks after being diagnosed with colorectal cancer –- Learning Ally assembled a team of 21 celebrities to record Chicken Soup for the Soul and dedicated it to her.
8. Elizabeth Montgomery continued acting until the end of her life. One of her last roles was made-for-TV detective flick Deadline for Murder, which aired in April 1995 just nine days before her death.