Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: A curse doomed the cast of Bewitched to early deaths.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, July 1995]
Origins: Whenever two or more celebrities who have appeared in the same television series or movie die either within a short time of one another or are regarded as having expired well before their time, rumors about a "death curse" on that series or film begin to circulate. It is therefore no surprise that the television
The comedy (which ran on ABC from 1964 to 1972) depicted the travails of a witch and a mortal joined in matrimony, their two worlds constantly colliding as the wife's best efforts to foreswear the use of witchcraft proved no match for the wiles of her family.
The May 1995 passing of actress Elizabeth Montgomery appears to have been the catalyst that sparked rumors about a curse. Coming so close upon the heels of the deaths of two of her Bewitched
Said whispers were never specific about who might have placed the curse or the reason for it, relying instead upon inference to fill in the blanks. The show, after all, had been about witchcraft. Was it that implausible then that someone or something would seek to punish all associated with it?
Not only were Montgomery, York, and Sargent the stars of the series (which would have been reason enough to cause some to believe the Grim Reaper had been given a little push), but
The first of the trio to go, York, (who was 63 when he died) expired of emphysema. Initially, his death wasn't viewed as untimely, given that he'd been ill for years: a back condition had forced his retirement from the show in 1969, and a subsequent addiction to painkillers also took its toll. Sargent (who was 64 when he crossed over) was felled by prostate cancer. Montgomery's death, however, caused those looking for the workings of dark forces to
However, while according to our flawed understanding of what length of life any of us should expect, some individual deaths might be viewed as out of place. Yet a study of what happened to each of the actors and actresses to play major parts in the series shows that even the "untimely" passings fall into a larger pattern of order. First, let's look at which cast members died, when they expired, how old they were at the time of their passing, and how they went:
Finally, regarding the modes of exit (cancer, heart attack, stroke, emphysema, Alzheimer's), the list's one surprise is that none of the deaths is the least bit unusual. You would think any curse worth calling itself such would include a decapitation or two, or at least one instance of someone being eaten by wolves.
Barbara "hex a gone" Mikkelson
Last updated: 5 November 2007
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