I’m sure this comes as no big surprise, but Bewitched was one of my favorite shows growing up. In fact, my first attempt at writing a novel (I think I was all of thirteen) featured a girl named Samantha (although I considered using Tabitha – spelled the right way, so as not to annoy Elizabeth Montgomery… *grin*). How could you not love a show like this?
Hard to believe that it’s been 51 years since it first aired on television September 17, 1964.
While ordinarily it’s hard for me to pick a favorite episode of a treasured TV show, it’s actually pretty easy with Bewitched. You see, some time in April of 1970, there was a fire on the set in Hollywood, so the cast and crew decided to road trip it while repairs were being made. A storyline was written, and next thing you know, Samantha and Darrin were on their way to Salem, MA so Sam could attend a Witches Convention. The choice of location for The Salem Saga made sense, as explained in this excellent article over on harpiesbizarre.com –
But why Salem? As with so much of Salem, witchcraft is woven into its fabric, both past and present. Salem had been an occasional theme on “Bewitched”, resonating with the show’s fans as the city where Endora’s and Samantha’s ancestors had once lived – a reference to the Witch Hysteria of 1692 was definitely the intent. Sol Saks’ original draft of “Bewitched” had incorporated a line about Salem which did not make it to the pilot episode. In it, Endora referred to the year 1776, when Salem was “the place to live”. In episode # 73, titled “The Girl with the Golden Nose”, responding to Samantha’s complaint about Darrin’s stereotyping her because she was a witch, Endora was reminded of “the old days in Salem! As a matter of fact, he looks like the judge who sentenced your poor old Aunt Agnes to this day!” The implication here, of course, is that Aunt Agnes was sentenced during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. The veteran actress, Agnes Moorehead, had been quite familiar with Salem herself as she was born in Clinton, Massachusetts, located 35 miles west of Boston(4). In episode # 19, “A Nice Little Dinner Party”, Darrin annoyed Samantha when he remarked that he was “beginning to understand why they used to burn witches at Salem”. Of course, no one was burnt during the Salem Witch Trials but nineteen were hanged, one was crushed to death, and hundreds were imprisoned.
In episode # 22, “Eye of the Beholder”, a fake portrait of Samantha that Endora planted at an Antique store bore the words “Maid of Salem, 1682”. Another specific and early reference to Salem is in episode # 39, titled “We’re in for a Bad Spell”. Here the Stephenses play host to Adam, an army friend of Darrin’s, who mentioned how he couldn’t resist the urge to leave his home town to stay with Darrin and Samantha even though he “was really pretty settled in Salem.” His family had lived in Salem for 300 years. It turned out that Adam had an old spell placed on him that would cause him to break the law(3).
But that’s not even the coolest part – at least, to me. You see, they didn’t just visit Salem for a few episodes. They ended up in Gloucester (and briefly at Hammond Castle!), thanks to cousin Serena’s infatuation with the world famous Fisherman’s Memorial statue. So on June 23rd, 1970 (or the 25th – they were there both days) I GOT TO MEET ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY! Granted, I was about a month shy of my 5th birthday, and I don’t actually remember meeting her (although I have a vivid recollection of Darrin standing atop the platform on the boulevard, dressed in his fisherman’s regalia). However, my mother tells me that EM was shaking hands and signing autographs with the fans gathered to watch the filming, and she shook my hand, looked up at my mother, and told her I had beautiful eyes.
Yeah, that sounded so much cooler in my head, when I was planning this entry. Anywho, one of these days, I want to visit her memorial statue (there’s a great story, with pictures and video, about the dedication over on Bewitched.net) and tell her how much I’ve loved her, Samantha Stevens, and Serena over the years, and even though I can’t wiggle my nose, I still feel a kinship with my sister witch.