DICK SARGENT (Darrin from 1969-1972)
Dick Sargent was born into show business.
His mother, Ruth McNaughton, was an actress who had supporting roles in films such as Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1961) and Hearts and Triumphs (1962). His father, Colonel Elmer Cox, was the business manager of Douglas Fairbanks, among others.
Sargent was enrolled at San Rafael Military School in Menlo Park, California. During his years at Stanford University, he starred in some twenty-five plays with the Stanford Players Theater. He was born Richard Cox, and upon his graduation he won a bit part in MGM's Prisoner of War (1954) and changed his name to Sargent.
As a struggling actor, he sustained his hopes and needs with a variety of nontheatrical jobs. He even dug ditches. Leaving a position as a department store salesman, he journeyed to the colonial city of
San Miguel Allende in Mexico to enter the import-export business. He later began collecting art. He returned to Hollywood and TV roles in Medic, Playhouse 90, Gunsmoke, Ripcord, West. His first major role in a motion picture was as P. F. Wilson in 1957's Bernadine, for which he received a Laurel Award from the nation's film exhibitors. His other movies include Operation Petticoat (1959), The Great Imposter (1961), That Touch of Mink (1962), Captain Newman, MD. (1963), For Love or Money (1964), and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966). Sargent made dramatic appearances on TV's The Six Million Dollar Man, Fantasy Island, Vegas, Trapper John MD, among others; in films like Hardcore (1979, with George C. Scott), and the witch-spoof, Teen Witch (1990). He credited his age and ability to draw upon a larger experience of life as contributory to his expansion as an actor. His other television appearances included Family Ties and an episode of the revived Columbo series. In that appearance, Dick played himself sitting in on a poker game with actress Nancy Walker and other celebrities. Peter Falk's character quizzes the game players about a particular mystery. Columbo recognizes Dick from Bewitched and says, "I loved that show.
Sargent appeared in twenty-three motion pictures, four made- for-TV movies, and five series of his own. His most recent regular series, Down to Earth, was supernaturally premised like Bewitched--only instead of having a witch for a wife, he had an angel (Carol Mansell as Ethel) for a maid, Sargent, like Dick York, was dedicated to ridding the world of hunger and offered hope and support in places where there was little of either.
The Special Olympics were one of the most rewarding experiences of his life. "There are so many of these athletes who can tell me the plots of everyBewitched episode. No matter what they're going through, the show seems to be one of the things their minds cling to.
"This makes me happy to know that the power of television has been put to good use, and that the accident of celebrity can be used for something else besides filling up scrapbooks."
About three years before his death by prostate cancer on July 8, 1994, Dick Sargent revealed that he was homosexual. The high rate of suicide among young gays was the reason for his decloaking from the closet. He wanted them to have a role model, to have his message live on.
"Gay and lesbian people," he said, "are just like everybody else."
*Biography from "Bewitched Forever" by Herbie J. Pilato