Twitch Upon A Star: The Bewitched Life And Career of Elizabeth Montgomery by Herbie J Pilato (Taylor Trade Publishing, Paperback Edition, 2014; Original Hardcover, 2012) * Distributed by National Book Network: 1-800-462-6420
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
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.
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
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
"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
“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
Click on link below for originally-published review