During its run on ABC, Bewitched was one of the network’s hit sitcoms but it went through some turbulence in later seasons. Dick York, a fine actor who also appeared in the movie Inherit the Wind, played Darrin Stephens opposite Elizabeth Montgomery’s Samantha.
Well, a little more than half the way through the show’s run, they made a change in Darrins. Out goes York; in comes Dick Sargent. What happened, though, to bring this change about? It had to do with some serious health issues.
York suffered a serious back injury while filming a movie. It was so bad for him that he reportedly became addicted to painkillers. He would come on set for his Bewitched work and do his best to keep going. But York reportedly fell down on the Bewitched set and was not able to get up. An ambulance was called to the show’s set, York was put on a gurney, and taken away.
Show Producers Make The Difficult Decision
This led the show producers, including longtime director William Asher (also Montgomery’s husband at the time), to a fateful decision. York would not return to Bewitched and Dick Sargent came on board. Funny thing: Sargent reportedly was the show’s first choice to play Darrin, but he was under contract for a different show.
Over the years, there has been more speculation about the Montgomery-York pairing. One person said that York was quite smitten with Montgomery. It was something that made her feel uncomfortable.
What’s really wild about this entire situation is that here was that no formal announcement was made. There was no press release…nothing. When you tuned into a new season of Bewitched and saw Sargent on there, that was it.
Maybe this generation needs a reminder about something. Sure, there were gossip columnists and broadcasters like Rona Barrett, Hedda Hopper, and others at this time. But there was no TMZ or 24-hour news cycle going on with celebrity news.
Even with Sargent coming on, Bewitched remained a popular sitcom into the early 1970s.
With the two Darrins, there are subtle differences. York had the ability to take his character’s frustrations out on others. He could “blow up” very easily and let Samantha or especially Endora have it. Darrin No. 2 would take Endora’s caustic behavior and turn it back around on her quote well.
The show continued to flourish until it left the ABC lineup. Bewitched has been a rerun staple since it left network television. Fans have debated for years over the casting change. That looks like it will keep on going for a long time to come.
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