The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery: Herbie J Pilato
Extremely important, necessary fundamental to the nature of someone or something are several definitions for the word essential. Author Herbie J Pilato has created a plethora of information in which he shares with readers about what he feels are the extremely important, necessary fundamental things that everyone should know about this icon of television, theater, movies and stage: Elizabeth Montgomery. If there was a recipe with ingredients for how someone expands on the qualities of a person’s life all of the essentials are here. Starting with the author’s notes where he relates how he came to write this book, growing up watching her on television and interning at NBC. Watching Bewitched after breaking his toe started his journey. Working in NBC in many different capacities helped him use this as a starting point especially in the Press and Publicity department. Imagine helping to promote shows like I Dream of Jeannie. Leaving NBC in 1985 our author not only watched the reruns of Bewitched while dealing with a broken tow but even more enjoying the new and improved I Dream of Jeannie. Bewitched was unique and special and what would television audiences think about a witch married to a mortal? The remainder of the author’s notes focuses on creating a Bewitched reunion movie hoping to include all of the original characters except for Dick York who was replaced by Dick Sargent as Darrin. Moving to the Prologue, which elaborates more about the show, when she was born and why she decided to become an actress. Including his her relationship with her parents and her grandmother Rebecca Allen. Her relationship with her parents was like a barometer where the pressure would change from moment to moment. Within the prologue the author shares her roles after graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. The year after she met and married Fredrick Gallatin Cammann which delighted her father but did not last. Many of his peers were not impressed with the fact that he married her and after a year they parted. Information within this prologue also focuses on her father, Robert’s career.
Within the prologue is her relationships with many other starts, an article by Journalist Sue Rochman that spotlighted her medical issues and an interview of a sensitive nature Foxworth. Within this section we learn about her parent’s divorce and how she started the 80’s with CBS with Belle Starr. Added in we learn about her marriage and divorce from Gig Young and why, her relationship with both Dick York and Dick Sargent and how she supported them both and the fact that Sargent was gay.
Anger Management, Sincerest forms of flattery, working U.N.I.C.E.F. and a final chapter titled Miss Manners which highlights various issues with her father with whom she maintained, “ a measure of decorum and reverence around him, certainly when it came to addressing his talent and career, but mostly because, at her core, she was refined and defined by old world manners.
Special remembrances of Elizabeth such as her twitch, facial expressions and her persona that both hearing and hearing impaired were drawn to her. However as stated on page xxiv of the prologue it was “her vocal talents, in particular that shone via life and animated performances, and even her cartoon likeness.” For those of you who recall or still watch Bewitched the animated-credit sequence became one of the show’s most recognizable aspects. However, Elizabeth was not really enthusiastic about the renderings artistic quality. The remainder of the prologue shares information about her final live –action production called Deadline for Murder and her relationship with both Cliff Robertson and Dominick Dunne. Even in 2005 then years after her death Nicole Kidman and Nora Ephron created the big screen version of Bewitched along her Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher. However, the greatest honor finally came three years later when she finally received the famous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Section One like any play is titled Act I : Stage Presence and it includes all of her life stage performances starting with Brigadoon, a short bio of the play and followed by Late Love, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Love Letters. Act II is titled the Untouchable Years: The pre-Samantha Television Roles which included Robert Montgomery Presents, Kraft Television Theater, Suspicion and The Dupont Show of the Month. But, two of my favorite shows are showcased on page 25: The Untouchables with Robert Stack and where Walter Winchell narrates and The Twilight Zone with Rod Serling an anthology series which focuses on extraordinary and /or supernatural situations, often with ironic and social commentary. The final show, which I loved, was 77 Sunset Strip. Making sure the book audience becomes closer with our star the author includes the next section, which in every play we call it, Intermission. The photos highlight her many roles, including a picture of her and Robert Montgomery, Lizzie Cool, her Emmy award performance in The Awakening Land and my favorite on Princess Grace where she refined her theatrical talent as the author states, demeanor, mind and personality at the most prestigious educational facilities on both coasts including elaborated by the author under her photo. Act III is Samantha Seasons and is probably the most exciting part of this book as it highlights Bewitched, the history behind it, the actors and actresses that lit up the screen each week and information about each season, how it changed from season to season and naming each of the episodes in chronological order. Reading through them I cannot help but relate which ones come to mind as my favorites and still do as Bewitched is seen daily on many cable stations today: Follow that Witch both I and II, Samantha and the Dressmaker and Baby’s first paragraph which highlights what happens when Endora tires of Mrs. Kravitz’s bragging about her nephew.
Act IV focuses on Microfilms (TV Movies,) like the Spiral Staircase, the Victim, my favorite The Legend of Lizzie Borden and Missing Pieces. Each one you might say is summarized like having its own special summary of each highlighting important facts about the movie and the actors in the movie. Just like any play there might be more than one intermission and this one is jam packed with color photos of our star. Wait until you see the first one. Pictures of her with Agnes Moorehead, her children, the cast and many more highlight this section. Act IV : Out of Character: Personal Appearances. Variety Shows like The Hollywood Palace, Award Shows, Game Shows and Parades are highlighted in this section. The final act might surprise you as it is titled: Vocal Cords The Voiceover Performances. To find out more you need to read this exciting section for yourself and learn about voiceovers and audio books and more. To summarize the author includes an Epilogue with is titled A life in Review. The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery: it is essential for every one’s personal library and public library to keep this amazing legend alive as she will live on in her performances on the silver screen, wide screen and television forever. Herbie J Pilato once again gets five golden stars for this outstanding resource and journey into the life of this wonderful star.
Fran Lewis: MJ Magazine/Just Reviews