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Film: The Curse of Bewitched; HOW TRAGEDY HIT THE CAST OF THE ORIGINAL TV SERIES.

Byline: By DAVID EDWARDS

For eight years, the inspiration for the new Nicole Kidman film was America's favourite sitcom. Between 1964 and 1972, audiences were thrilled by the adventures of Samantha the suburban sorceress. But for the stars of the original Bewitched, life was less magical and marred by tragedy. Here we look at what became of the stars of the TV show.

ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY (Samantha Stephens) Her uncanny ability to wiggle her nose made her one of the most famous actresses in America. But after Bewitched went off the air, Montgomery couldn't escape her role as the suburban witch. By the time she died of cancer in 1995, aged 62, she refused to have anything to do with the show.

The daughter of actors Robert and Elizabeth Montgomery, she narrowly missed out on a part in On The Waterfront in 1954 before landing the role of Samantha. Post-Bewitched, she opted for roles as far removed from Samantha's kooky personality as possible, playing killers and abused women.

Offscreen, she was married three times and tirelessly campaigned for Aids victims and human rights.

DICK YORK (Darrin Stephens 1964-69) Although one of America's best-loved actors, York's personal life was marred by illness and misfortune. After starting out as a child actor in the '40s, he came into his own in 1960 playing a Deep South teacher jailed for teaching the theory of evolution in Inherit The Wind.

After landing the role of Samantha's lanky husband in Bewitched, he was forced to step down in 1969 due to a debilitating back injury and an addiction to painkillers. Unable to work, in the mid-'70s he lost everything in a failed business venture and was forced to claim welfare. He died of emphysema in 1992, aged 63.

DICK SARGENT (Darrin Stephens 1969-72)

When Dick York left the show, he was replaced by the similar-looking Sargent, who had originally been offered the part in 1964. He lasted three seasons, but it's unlikely he would have got the role if the producers had known he was gay.

In 1991, he came out of the closest and became a gay role model, saying, "I'm afraid for my career, but this is more important. I like myself, probably more than I have most of my life." He died three years later from prostate cancer.

AGNES MOOREHEAD (Endora)

The actress who played Samantha's mother tragically died of cancer in 1974 after starring in a movie that was shot near a nuclear-test site. In the 20 years after The Conqueror was released in 1956, dozens of its actors and crew members were struck down by the disease, including John Wayne, Susan Hayward and director Dick Powell.

Moorehead was nominated for an Oscar four times and played Orson Welles' mother in the legendary Citizen Kane.

DAVID WHITE (Larry Tate)

The man who played Darrin's boss became a recluse in the last years of his life after his son, Jonathan, was killed in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. By a tragic twist, the actor lost his wife, Mary Welch, as she was giving birth to Jonathan in 1958.

After Bewitched, where he achieved fame playing the boss of an advertising agency, he became a regular in shows such as Columbo and The Rockford Files. Although he remarried after his first wife's death, he disappeared from public life for a year after his son died. He died in 1990 from a heart attack.

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SITCOM STARS: Samantha, Endora and Darrin
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 19, 2005
Words:576
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