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Every little thing she does is; It must be witchcraft. MARION MCMULLEN gets into the spirit of Halloween with a look back at movie and TV witches who have cast a spell over us.


ATWITCH of her nose and TV magic was guaranteed when Elizabeth Montgomery first appeared as modern-day witch Samantha in Bewitched.

She told her advertising executive husband Darrin Stephens of her magical heritage on their honeymoon, but promised she was determined to put the hocus pocus on hold... but then her magical relatives, including her mother Endora, started to turn up at their suburban home.

Bewitched began in 1964 and ran until the early 1970s with Elizabeth Montgomery appearing in all 254 episodes and also playing Samantha's own cousin Serena.

She once said: "Like most people, I secretly hope that it's true - that there are witches like Samantha, and that families like hers really do exist."

The show even survived a change of husbands when back problems caused Dick York to leave the fantasy series and Dick Sargeant replaced him as Darrin in 1959.

A bronze statue of Elizabeth as Samantha riding her broomstick can now be found in Salem, Cher, Van Massachusetts, home to the infamous witch trials of the 17th century.

The success of Bewitched led to TV spin-off Tabitha, about Samantha's daughter, and Nicole Kidman took on the role of the nose-twitching witch in the 2005 movie.

The success of movies such as I Married A Witch in 1942 and Bell, Book And Candle in 1958 were among the inspirations for Bewitched.

Veronica Lake played a 17th century witch who returned centuries later to cause trouble for the descendant of the man who ordered her burnt at the stake in the 1942 film while the big screen version of Broadway hit Bell, Book And Candle saw Kim Novak casting a love spell over James Stewart as modern witch Gil. It was James Stewart's last romantic leading role and the movie also saw Jack Lemmon as Shep's warlock brother Nicky.

Margaret Hamilton presented the more traditional image of the cackling, pointy hat wearing, broomstick-riding witch in The Wizard Of Oz.

The former kindergarten teacher starred alongside Judy Garland in the 1939 movie and would later add WWW (Wicked Witch Of The West) when she signed autographs.

Billie Burke, who played Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, was a youthful-looking 54 when she appeared in the famous role and later said: "Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese."

Modern-day magic was given a sexy twist in The Witches Of Eastwick in 1987, which saw Jack Nicholson as the devilish Daryl Van Horne causing mayhem after unleashing the hidden potential of three unsuspecting witches in the shape of Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer.

The film, based on John Updike's bestselling book, was nominated for two Oscars and Michelle Pfeiffer later went on to play one of three wicked witch sisters in the fantasy movie Stardust 10 years ago.

The power of three was also the focus of American TV series Charmed about three sisters who discover they are descended from witches and are destined to battle demons and the forces of evil. The series ran from 1998 and survived several cast changes although Holly Marie Combs played Piper Halliwell in 180 episodes across all eight seasons. The theme tune How Soon Is Now is a song from The Smiths and was covered by Love Spit Love for the TV series. The song also featured in 1996 film The Craft about teenage witches at high school.

Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy played it for laughs as three Salem witch sisters in 1993 movie Hocus Pocus while Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman also played spellcasting sisters looking for a way to break a curse that doomed them to be unhappy in love in 1998 movie Practical Magic.

Other TV witches have included Sabrina The Teenage Witch in the US and The Worst Witch in the UK, the original series of which ran from 1986 and featured both Diana Rigg and Tim Curry, while the film industry has given us a whole school of witchcraft and wizardry with the Harry Potter movies and Tilda Swinton providing the chills as sinister Jadis, the White Witch, in The Chronicles Of Narnia films.

Maria Blake was never far from a cauldron brewing up magic potions - or strange recipes - as Grandmama Addams in 1960s TV series The Addams Family while Angela Lansbury saved the day as apprentice witch Miss Price in 1971 movie Bedknobs And Broomsticks.

The British actress fittingly signed her contract for the Disney film on Halloween in 1969.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Oct 28, 2017
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