Elizabeth Montgomery was honored posthumously with the 2,353rd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Honorary Mayor of Hollywood, Johnny Grant, presided over the ceremony. Guests included actors Robert Foxworth and Elizabeth Sheridan. Montgomery’s children, Rebecca Asher and Bill Asher, accept the star on her behalf.
6533 Hollywood Boulevard on January 4, 2008.
Montgomery was born on April 15, 1933 in Los Angeles, the daughter of screen actor and TV star Robert Montgomery and former stage actress Elizabeth Allen. She and her younger brother Skip were raised in Hollywood, but were kept from the glare of the spotlight.
After her parents divorced in 1950, Elizabeth lived in New York. Her father had begun his successful television series Robert Montgomery Presents and it was here that Elizabeth made her television debut playing opposite her father in an episode entitled “Top Secret.”
Montgomery quickly became a prolific and hard-working television actress, making appearances on dozens of dramatic anthology shows of the 1950’s. She made her big screen debut in 1955 in The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell and although she would make more feature films, it would be television that would make her a star. In 1960 she earned her first Emmy nominations for her performance as prostitute Rusty Heller in an episode of ABC’s landmark drama The Untouchables. She also guest starred on a classic episode of the Twilight Zone.
In November 1963, Elizabeth starred in the pilot episode of Bewitched as the beautiful, good-hearted witch Samantha. The first episode aired in 1964 and the show was an immediate success. By the end of the season, Bewitched was ABC’s biggest hit ever and made ABC the #1 television network in the top 50 urban markets worldwide. Produced by her husband William Asher, Bewitched featured sophisticated writing and one of the best casts in television history. The show immediately became a part of the national popular culture. Catch phrases such as “Oh my stars!,” “you son-of-a gun”, and “what’s his name?” are specific to Bewitched, as well as hundreds of mesmerizing incantations, side-splitting humor, and of course, that famous “twitch”. Above all, Bewitched became a classic because Elizabeth’s character, Samantha, was so believable.
Bewitched was still ABC’s top show at the end of the decade. Unfortunately, ABC’s success demanded the show create nearly 40 episodes a year, placing a tremendous work load on the cast, writers and crew. Near the show’s end, Bewitched was rewriting earlier episodes to keep up. By the final season, the show was burning out. Mid-way through the final year, ABC moved the show to Saturday night opposite All in the Family, a stop-gag measure to block CBS’s gaining momentum. Bewitched held steady and the network requested two more years, but Elizabeth decided it was time to move on to other projects.
Montgomery continued to work in television, becoming the first and foremost “TV Movie Queen”. She created a string of classic TV films, including Mrs. Sundance, Belle Starr, The Legend of Lizzie Borden, The Awakening Land and A Case of Rape. Her final film Deadline for Murder was one of the highest rated movies of 1995. During the filming of that movie, Elizabeth fell ill, and after a short bout with cancer, she passed away on May 18, 1995.