New Biography on "Bewitched" Star!

New Biography on "Bewitched" Star!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Fran Lewis review of TWITCH UPON A STAR (June 20, 2015)

Elizabeth Montgomery was a complicated and complex person. Creating a tribute or memoir spotlighting her career and focusing on those relationships that were unique and special to her is what author/screenwriter Herbie J Pilato does within this memorable account of her life…Throughout the book the author has readers enter into many different worlds unique to both Samantha Stephens and Elizabeth Montgomery including her difficult relationship with her father, Robert, her need to be accepted by him and her desire to follow in his footsteps on the silver screen….This [book] allows readers to understand her goals, her personality and her need to do things in her own way.  Interviewing numerous family members, friends, other actresses and actors even ex-husbands the author gives us the full spectrum of this amazing actress, mother, daughter and friend’s career.  Imagine growing up with Robert Montgomery as your father and Elizabeth Allen as your mother in a world filled with money, fame and relationships that were often difficult and dealing with a father whose personality was not easy to deal with both at home and at the studio.
The author shares many aspects of her life but the one that is most interesting is her relationship with William Asher and how she revered him both at home and at work. Focusing on her career, making sure that she made eye contact with him during her rehearsals and performances we understand her great respect for him as a man, husband and creator of Bewitched. Four marriages three which failed we see the constant rise and decline Elizabeth Montgomery. Relationships are what I think this book is most about and her need to deal with people that are honest, upfront and forthcoming and ending those without cause or notice when necessary.
Her relationship with Dick York was quite tight and finding she having him replaced by Dick Sergeant caused a rift in the cast when Agnes Moorehead gave Sergeant a hard time and literally brought him to tears. A great mother, long hours and children that she loved and adored and never failed she were the quintessential of many things.
Beginning with her childhood and focusing on her relationship with her father the reader learns from an early age that Elizabeth felt she needed to work hard to match up and live up to what she felt her father wanted. Her mother was an actress on Broadway and stopped working when married. Throughout the [book] the author alludes to the fact that Elizabeth Allen might have had some difficulty with drinking leading to her faltered relationship with her daughter. Her relationships with men, other stars, appearances and more often made her uncomfortable. From Bewitched, to the Twilight Zone, the Untouchables and on the wide screen Elizabeth Montgomery encompassed it all.
Flashing back to when the pilot for Bewitched began and how the famous twitch was born, you understand her connection to Bill Asher and the importance he played in her life both private and professional. How he reacted to her and if an interviewer was not, as the author states, “Her cup of tea....both Lizzie and Bill were at times brisk, businesslike, tireless, competent, hard-nosed, personable and pragmatic,” almost like a fine tuned violin playing in sync with each other. 
Throughout the chapter titled "Remember the Mane," you learn more about her relationship with Asher and the knowledge that he would never be known as Mr. Montgomery and why.
The pictures within the chapter titled “Double Double” are breathtaking as the photographer brings many aspects of her career and life to light including her own children with her, Samantha and Darrin, Endora and Samantha and the cast of Bewitched. These photos are priceless.
The author shares her relationship with Agnes Moorehead, which was complex. Often yielding to the older of the two in many respects you begin to wonder just why Moorehead was able to get away with many of the things she did on and off the set. Both were strong-willed and competitive and both great at their craft. Family values and family relationships were explored in Bewitched and Samantha or Elizabeth had to allow her husband at times to make decisions and curb her true feelings or nature. At times you begin to wonder what would have happened if Samantha Stephens was a working mom and not a stay-at-home mom.
In the chapter titled “To Twitch or Not To Twitch” she had to decide when and if she was going to walk away from being Samantha and go into other areas such as in “A Case of Rape” and [in “The Legend of] Lizzie Borden.”  Conversations that were overheard and messages passed on to others and things that should have remained silent about her marriage found their way to young ears. Elizabeth liked to be addressed as Lizzie and at times the author switches off between both names.
Within the chapter titled, “Temperatures Rising” we learn more about the struggles within her marriage to Bill Asher their estrangement and how Bill had [an actress] named Nancy to help him feel better. But, working on other projects such as “The Paul Lynde Show” took its toll on their marriage, which began to disintegrate. Within the chapter we are privy to many other tense moments and interviews and statements by other people explaining why Bill and Elizabeth divorced.
Discussions and interviews comprise most of this book as we get different perspectives about the many aspects of her life from numerous viewpoints shared by the author. You hear the voices of Robert Montgomery, her many husbands, Cliff Robertson and you share the good times, the bad, the rise and fall and you get to understand why…Pilato had to spotlight and honor this great actress. Relationships are what I have stated this book is about as you understand her interaction with many stars, producers, directors and her own family. But, the focal point is Bewitched and the author explores the many avenues and roads followed by Elizabeth when deciding which roles to take and when it was time to turn in another direction.
You can tell from the dialogue and tone of the book that Elizabeth and each time he interviewed her really enamored Herbie brought him new insight into her viewpoints and the real person behind the twitch....From…becoming a free spirit and free agent no longer locked into one role, she became what most would state a legend in her own time. The many faces of Elizabeth are portrayed in the pictures that follow at the end of the chapter titled "Awakenings."
"Spirits and Angels" is followed by "Humanities," each chapter brilliantly titled featuring some aspect of her career and her interactions with other actors, friends and family. Her political viewpoints and views related to Political science follow and the book concludes with an "Afterword" that ties it all together. Placing too much “Emphasis on age, she might not have made the best choices with regard to her health…Unfortunately she died too young and the world lost her on May 18, 1995. Withering away quite rapidly the cancer too over and although she tried hard to fight it, it won.
The author goes on to say: “She gave herself little credit for artistic accomplishments that also failed to win the formal acceptance of her peers.” Her life was full, exciting, difficult, cut short and then she left this world but her family, friends, fans, and those that still remember her know that somewhere up in the sky there is a special star that is bright and will be one star that Twitches brightly and reminds us that she is watching over us:
“In this sense Elizabeth’s…..Lizzie’s… Lizbel’s ethereal essence is somewhere beautiful nose wriggling the light fantastic, leaving Hollywood to wonder if it will ever again emanate a more luminary….twitch upon a STAR!"
 …This [book] is heartfelt, heartwarming, well told and will keep you interested from start to finish.

Click on link below for originally-published review

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Updated Press links related to TWITCH UPON A STAR

General Classic TV Women Article

Who Is Herbie J Pilato?

I am Caine – Herbie J Pilato: The Interview

The Industrious Light and Magic of Herbie J Pilato

An Interview with Herbie J Pilato

Celebrating the Charms of Bewitched – 50 Years Later

Yahoo!  - How Samantha Got Her Nose Twitch

Bewitched Craft

Author Profiles Bewitched Star in New TWITCH Biography

Book Pleasures Interview with Herbie J Pilato

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christian Book Critic Salvador SeBasco Gives TWITCH Five Star Review

"Herbie J Pilato’s TWITCH UPON A STAR is as perfect a book as could be in honor of a star’s legacy (Elizabeth Montgomery). Through this book, the recognition of her influence on a culture and memories of her impact live on. Pilato gives readers insight about just how really human Television’s most popular fictional witch of all time was. TWITCH UPON A STAR shines bright at a rating of 5 Stars (out of five).

Elizabeth Montgomery life, her trials of self-realization, and the chain of events that led her to entertain others is what first resonated after reading TWITCH UPON A STAR. I read it twice. Afterwards I watched re-runs of Bewitched− knowing what I learned from TWITCH UPON A STAR –and what stirred me most were the questions that came to mind which I feel TWITCH UPON A STAR answered.  What does a person’s life mean to others?  Does a meaningful life mean one’s influence on other’s after one has gone? Does it mean an undeniable mark on others? A lasting fondness?  By Pilato reminding us of Elizabeth Montgomery life, he reminds us that to live is to have meaning to others. In the era Elizabeth Montgomery lived, the onset of woman’s lib placed her unsuspecting role as the role of Samantha Stephens on a (sweet little) television show called Bewitched.

It also showed viewers that an extraordinary extent of privacy is possible in one’s own home. After all, if a witch could be hidden from recognition and within the walls of a home was one’s own business, there was a great value to owning a home. The show also conveyed a woman knows best and that her dabbling in her husband’s business affairs brought unexpected gains. That was something unheard of in that era.

TWITCH UPON A STAR is as no other book. And while my being Christian sides me with the direction of thought that us being “perfect” is not attainable (because the only perfect is the Lord) TWITCH UPON A STAR is as perfect as perfect a book can get on this earth. Between the lines we are reminded that to realize (with television) we are watching a place in history made is not what we realize when we watch the best entertainers of our time. After we are affected by what we experience, we just know they took us to a place (in our own hearts) and to that a moment in time that relieved us from our own expectations on ourselves and others. We get to tune out all but what we are watching. In a world where anticipation is half the fun, the best entertainers (as was Elizabeth Montgomery) get us to anticipate and stay in a steady-state of anticipation that detracts us from those levels of expectations from everyday life. Some call it escapism−that being entertained provides−but it is more. Every now and far in between then a person (entertainer) comes along, as Elizabeth Montgomery had, that brings a sheer joy to watch; because we did not know what to expect next out of that person; a humbling experience in observance of what is genuine about a person.

When our values of past have been bruised by the present world we live in, and we’ve evolved away from certain mainstay values in entertainment, the preservation of television’s history and the efforts to preserve, brings us back to the foundational values of being entertained; to bring forth appeal, and all that is unexpected and not anticipated. TWITCH UPON A STAR more than takes us back to a time when. It moves readers forward with hope of what (in similar fashion and form or spiritedness) can be achieved in entertainment; and who better than Herbie J Pilato to bring that message forward to this and the next generation. He is the founder and Executive Director of The Classic TV Preservation Society, a nonprofit organization that seeks to close the gap between popular culture and education.

Thank you, Herbie J Pilato for giving it your all (in this book). TWITCH UPON A STAR is a blessing in disguise; a reminder of the passion, perseverance, devotion, and diligence partook by entertainers. In between the lines of TWITCH UPON A STAR readers are likely to gain a sense that Elizabeth Montgomery lived her legacy while she was alive, and that by her genuine nature, left a mark on society, influenced others beyond her widest imagination, and in what we see of her work in reruns and by Pilato’s artful mastery of the craft of writing, we (readers) get to relive the reasons we have the fondness for the way Elizabeth Montgomery entertained us.

Back to our earlier questions, questions that stirred in me as I read TWITCH UPON A STAR: What does a person’s life mean to others?  What would be at stake had that person never existed? Pilato shows readers in more ways than one that one person can make a great difference in the world and that Elizabeth Montgomery did so by not setting out to do so; but by serving to the best of one’s ability.  To be given the gift that TWITCH UPON A STAR is proves that a life well lived is not about what you take but what you give.

Bravo to Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group. For me, a person who thinks he’s read the best of the best books, you put a twinkle in my eyes with Herbie J Pilato’s mastery of the craft of writing. To relive television’s greatest times is to travel into the depth of one’s own heart and TWITCH UPON A STAR did that for me. Thank you.”


Salvador SeBasco
Book Critic
Literary Director
on staff with CNN affiliate station, KNLE

December 5, 2012