While looking through the internet to see how many actors are gay, coz that’s the kind of thing I’m into, I came across this piece of interesting trivia. Now, what do you think is the gayest show in the world ever? The criteria? Actors. Which show, in the history of television, the highest concentration of gay actors? The L Word? No! Queer as Folk? No! Bewitched.
Be-bleedin-witched? Yes, fair reader, would you believe that the family fave from the 60’s and 70’s had the highest concentration of queerness that any other. Five out of the six actors who regularly appeared on the show were moes, or reportedly moes. The only straight in the village was the lead actress, Elizabeth Montgomery.
Dick York (left) was the first of the actors who played Darrin Stevens, uber-conservative hubbie of the witch Samantha. York’s story is a tragic one; he was a gay man who suffered so much internal homophobia that it exacerbated his addiction to pain medication. In 1968, he suffered a back injury and was in constant pain for the rest of his life. He was a devoted husband and Catholic who was also gay; a contradiction he battled with for his whole life.
Update - His story is a tragic one but it’s not this one. Thanks to reader, bachomega, I need to clarify. Dick york was NOT gay. My research was completely inaccurate. Scarleh! He did suffer from crippling back pain which is why he left the show and was a devoted husband and Catholic. Sincere apologies for this mis-information; I am only too happy to be publicly whipped.
In complete contrast to Mr York, Dick Sergant (right)was an out and proud gay man who fought the fight for gay rights. Sergant took over as Darrin Stevens when York was in too much pain to continue and he slipped perfectly into the role. He had long hidden his sexual orientation, appearing as a couple with lesbian actress, and writer of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Fannie Flagg. Sargent lived with his domestic partner, Albert Williams, for more than a decade, until his death in 1994. Just two years before, he and former co-star Elizabeth Montgomery were the Grand Marshals of the Los Angeles Gay Pride parade.
Agnes Moorehead, who played Samantha’s over-bearing mother Endora, is a controversial figure. In the recent past it has been taken as fact that she was a lesbian, something she never admitted. There are plenty of stories about her lesbian exploits in The Sewing Circle, although that’s hardly a reason to assume she was one of the family. If she was gay there were plenty of reasons for her to stay in the closet; a Presbyterian clergyman for a father and the morality clauses in the old Hollywood contracts to name just two. Moorehead biographer Charles Tranberg (I Love the Illusion: The Life and Career of Agnes Moorehead, 2005) interviewed several of the actress’s closest friends, including some who are openly gay, who all stated the rumor is untrue.
Was Paul Lynde ever in the closet? He was the perennial camp-for-comedy actor who was much-loved in Hollywood. He played Uncle Arthur in Bewitched, and was hugely loved by the American public. Back in the day when all gay men were seen as fairies, Lynde was chief fairy in Hollywood, playing the prat-faller in The Phil Silvers Show, The Munsters, I Dream of Jeannie and the Donny and Marie Osmond Show. He became a household name in the US, however, when he appeared in the game show Celebrity Squares 1966, eventually becoming the ‘centre square’, always ready with a one-liner dripping with double-entendres.
Erin and Diane Murphy
Erin and Diane Murphy were the twins who played Tabitha, Samantha and Darrin’s daughter, on the show. One half of the twins, Diane, is an out and proud lesbian who lives with her cat, Sugar. Erin is a popular celebrity host for various TV stations and is married to a man named Darren. Spooky.
Gay people have always been part of my life. They’ve just always been there. If you think about it, Bewitched is about repression in general and all the frustration and trouble it can cause. It was a neat message to get across to people at that time in a subtle way.
And when she was asked if it’s easier for gay actors to come out these days:
I really don’t think so. I think it’s going to be a long, tedious process. There’s still a lot of prejudice out there and a lot of fear and ignorance. It’s sad. Add hypocrisy to that list: Hollywood is practically run by gays. Hypocrisy and homophobia aren’t only in Hollywood. But in this town, everything is based on earning money. If you are trying to make films or television for the public, there are people out there who are going to say, “I’m not going to see that film if it’s got a faggot in it.” That’s so awful. I wonder sometimes, what if people had heard Rock Hudson or Brad Davis was gay before he died? How would it have affected their careers? What if it hadn’t? That would have been great. But their fear kept them from finding out.