Elizabeth Montgomery was born in Los Angeles on April 15th 1933. Daughter of movie actor Robert Montgomery and stage and screen actress Elizabeth Allen. Elizabeth was a privileged child, she and younger brother Skip (Robert) had all the comforts of upper-class raising. Fine schools, horseback riding and celebrity company. She attended the Westlake School for Girls for 11 years, an exclusive Southern California establishment. She was shy, however her passion to act started at an early age. Discouraged by her father to give up if you do not intend to "give it your all," she went on to perform in her first television drama, Top Secret an installment of her father's TV program Robert Montgomery Presents. Liz was nineteen.
She also tried her hand at Broadway, Late Love was her debut. She married at the age of 21 to TV director Frederic Cammann and continued to act on television in her father's and other TV shows. Her marriage, unlike her career, did not last. She did many television appearances, around 250. She made her big screen debut in The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell in 1955, starring Gary Cooper. Liz would often say "I've always been a TV baby" and that she was. In 1960 Elizabeth portrayed the southern prostitute Rusty Heller in an episode of The Untouchables, and received her first Emmy nomination. It proved to be the first in a string of many nominations that would elude a statue.
In 1956 she met her second husband actor Gig Young, 14 years her senior, and an abusive alcoholic. They were divorced in time for her to marry producer/director William Asher in 1963. Liz and Asher met while filming Johnny Cool, a B movie, and fell madly in love. She was a vivacious and beautiful young woman. He was a strong energetic figure. Their union produced three children, William, Robert & Rebecca.
Together they were responsible for her most famous portrayal - Samantha Stephens, the nose twitching sorceress married to a mortal. Bewitched lasted eight seasons on ABC, being one of the top rated shows of it's time. It garnered the cast and crew numerous Emmy nominations and awards, five alone for Elizabeth. The magic of Bewitched ended in 1972 and so did the Ashers' marriage. Liz and Bill were divorced in 1974.
After Bewitched, Liz went on to make many memorable TV movies. The Victim was her first, Mrs. Sundance followed soon after and so did her romance with costar Robert Foxworth. They met in 1973 and became partners in a relationship that would last until the end. The year 1974 brought A Case of Rape a milestone for the small screen, and watched in more homes than any other TV-movie in television history. This film also graced Liz with another Emmy nomination. The following year, Liz portrayed perhaps her most famous character other than our favorite witch, Lizzie Borden in The Legend of Lizzie Borden. Again another Emmy nomination.
Her remake of Dark Victory in '76 can still make one sob with tears. During all this time Liz was also keeping busy on the gameshow Password and Password Plus. It was her favorite fun pastime. She worked with her friend Allen Ludden, her love Robert Foxworth and many TV stars. Ludden often referred to her as "The Queen of Password."
Again in 1978 an Emmy award escaped her. The Awakening Land was a 7 hour mini series which showcased the great range Miss Montgomery had developed as an actress. More TV movies followed, and even some talk of a Bewitched reunion. Elizabeth would have nothing to do with it. For her it was forward and not back. She costarred twice more with Foxworth in two made-for-TV movies, Face to Face (1990) & With Murder In Mind (1992). Still living with Foxworth in 1992 when asked why they were never married he replied "I know a lot of couples who lived together and then once they get those papers it's over." They were however married in 1992 in a private and unpublicized ceremony.
In 1993 Liz narrated the Academy Award winning documentary Panama Deception, uncovering the Iran Contra affair. On a lighter note she also narrated 2 audio installments of The Erotic Adventures of Sleeping Beauty, proving to us that she was not that sweet as pie housewife she used to portray. Elizabeth Montgomery was not only a versatile television actress but also an AIDS and Gay Rights activist. Back on June 28th 1992 Dick Sargent had his Samantha right there by his side, as grand marshals of the Gay-pride Parade in Los Angeles, California. Her Bewitched costar had her complete support when he choose to "come out" publicly.
Always the stout fellow, in 1995 Liz ignored her feelings of fatigue and exhaustion. She chalked it up to the flu and overwork due to her busy schedule. She was portraying Miami crime reporter Edna Buchanan in the TV production of Deadline for Murder. Sadly Elizabeth Montgomery would succumb to cancer on May 18.1995. With her children and husband, Robert Foxworth waiting in the next room she left us quietly and with dignity at her home in Beverly Hills.
She was beautiful, bashful & bawdy. But always bewitching. We will miss you Elizabeth Montgomery.
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MSNBC "HEADLINERS & LEGENDS WITH MATT LAUER: ELIZABETH MONTGOMEY