The sitcom Bewitched accuses of having a “death curse” that affected its cast members. This isn’t uncommon when multiple cast members from a production die or injure mysteriously. A famous example of this is the Wizard of Oz film, which saw deaths, injuries, and related tragedies in production.
However, Bewitched is in a league of its own, as every single one of the cast members died prematurely. Considering the show follows the story of a witch, it’s natural that rumors of a curse start with these deaths.
It all started with the death of actress Elizabeth Montgomery in 1995. Although fellow cast members Dick York and Dick Sargent pass just a short while earlier, in 1992 and 1994. It is after Elizabeth Montgomery’s death that fans start to recognize a pattern.
Upon further digging, many people agree that the death of each of the cast members was indeed untimely and unnatural. Let’s take a look back at the show’s production and figure out if this curse has any truth to it.
Rehearsals for the pilot episode of “Bewitched” started in November 22, 1963 – just hours before the nation learned of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The tragedy was especially difficult for the show’s star, Elizabeth Montgomery and her husband Bill Asher, who was also the show’s producer. Despite the tragic news, the show had to go on. Perhaps this was a foreshadowing of what was to come of the show’s cast.
The first death occurred while Bewitched was still in production. Alice Pearce, who played the role of Gladys Kravitz, the show’s nosy neighbor, passed away due to ovarian cancer in 1966. Pearce diagnoses with this terminal cancer before Bewitched started, but she chose to keep this information to herself and continue pursuing her acting career. When she began rapidly losing weight, her condition became more evident. Viewers may have noticed this change during the second season of Bewitched, and Pearce passed before completing that second season. She was just 48 years old. Shortly after, she replaces by actress Sandra Gould.
The next death hit ‘Bewitched’ fans even harder. In 1968, Marion Lorne, the actor who played the beloved Aunt Clara, passed away due to a heart attack. She was 82 years old, and this death came just before the 5th season of Bewitched began production. Throughout her time on the show, she appears in 27 episodes and awards with an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Elizabeth Montgomery accepted this award on Marion Lorne’s behalf. The producers of the show soon realized that Aunt Clara could never be replaced by another actress, so they instead added a new character to the series. This character was Esmeralda, who was played by Alice Ghostley.
Two years after the show concluded, Agnes Moorehead passed away from uterine cancer. This was in the year 1974, and she was just 73 years old. Many believe this death is linked to her role in the film “The Conquerer”, a western film that was produced in 1956. The film was shot in Utah, not far from a nuclear test site. Out of 220 cast members, it is believed that at least 46 of them developed cancer from their exposure to nuclear activity. This includes the film’s stars, John Wayne and Susan Hayward. On her deathbed, Agnes Moorehead tragically recalled taking part in The Conquerer, and confessed that she wished she had never done it.
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In trying to understand a deeper pattern to the death of the Bewitched cast members, we have to consider how and when they died. In reality, while some of them did suffer untimely deaths, it’s possible that there is more to the story.
Roy Roberts, who played Frank Stephens, died of a heart attack in 1975. He was 75 years old at the time.
George Tobias, who played Abner Kravitz, passed away from bladder cancer at the age of 78.
Paul Lynde, who played Uncle Arthur died at the young age of 55 due to a heart attack.
Mabel Albertson, who played Phyllis Stephens, passed away when he was 81. Her cause of death was Alzheimer’s disease.
Maurice Evans, often just called Maurice, died of cancer when she was 87.
In 1992, Robert F. Simon, who played Frank Stephens, died due to a heart attack. He was 83 at the time.
Irene Vernon, who played Louise Tate, died in early 1998, at the age 76, due to heart failure.
In 1999, Sandra Gould, who played Gladys Kravitz, died at the age of 92 following complications of heart surgery.
Kasey Rogers, who also played Louise Tate, died early in 2006, when she was 80, due to stroke.
In 2007, Alice Ghostley, who played Esmeralda, died due to stroke and colon cancer at the age of 81.
In 2016, Bernard Fox, the actor who played Dr. Bombay, passed away due to heart failure. He was 89 years old.
Although it may seem that there would not be any remaining cast members, there are actually two members of the original cast who are still with us.
The first is Erin Margaret Murphy, who played a young Tabitha Stephens. She will turn 57 years old in 2021.
The second is Diane Kathleen Murphy, who also played a young Tabitha Stephens. She shared this role with twin sister Erin, as they could play the role interchangeably. She will also turn 57 years old in 2021.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in the US, the average life expectancy is slightly shy of 78 years. Applying this knowledge to the “Bewitched death curse” gossip, it’s evident that not all of these cast members actually died early. In fact, just nine of these cast members passed before they reached the average expected age of 78. The other nine cast members who passed actually lived beyond this mark, which suggests that there may not be anything unusual about their death at all. Of course, the Murphy twins are still living, and time will tell if they fall victim to this so-called curse.
But overall, the curse does not explain the death of these cast members. Many of them passed near the expected life expectancy, with the exception of Elizabeth Montgomery who did indeed suffer a tragic death.
Additionally, regarding how the actors passed away, causes like heart attack, cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer’s are fairly common causes of death. There was no real pattern in the age or the cause of death of the Bewitched cast, which leads us to believe the rumor of a curse is just a rumor. But, if you have any insight, please share it with us below in the comments!
Now that we have cleared all confusions regarding the deaths of the Bewitched cast, it is time we discuss why the show was actually canceled. Since most of the cast members did survive through the show’s running, it’s only natural that your curious about what actually brought about the end of this beloved series.
The truth is that the series was not canceled because of a lack of viewers or poor ratings. It had everything to do with the show’s star, Elizabeth Montgomery.
In fact, Herbie J. Pilato told Fox News during an interview that Bewitched was actually renewed for upcoming Seasons 9 and 10, but Montgomery wanted to opt-out. During this time, Montgomery was often in the news for her tumultuous marriages and affairs. This likely led to the collapse of her marriage with Bill Asher. The show ended in 1972, and Montgomery & Asher divorced in 1973.
According to Pilato, the only thing that kept Elizabeth Montgomery coming back each season was the money. She tried to quit after the fifth season of Bewitched, but given the show’s success, ABC didn’t want to see that happen. They increased her pay enough to keep her around, but it clearly didn’t keep her satisfied for long.
Did revisiting Bewitches and its lovely actors bring back a feeling of nostalgia? Let us know your favorite Bewitched memories in the comments! And before you go, be sure to hit the like button if you enjoyed this video. And don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse and click the notification bell to stay updated with our latest content.