Two biographies about Elizabeth Montgomery

Two biographies about Elizabeth Montgomery
Note: A portion of the sales from these books are donated to The Classic TV Preservation Society

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New 30-Minute TV Interview about The Classic TV Preservation Society

Hello Everyone -

Below is a link to a new 30-minute TV interview I did with Many Pacheco.

I talk about The Classic TV Preservation Society, and the TV & Self-Esteem Seminars that I bring to schools, colleges, and community and business organizations.

Please watch it all the way through (there's one commercial break) - and enjoy!


Saturday, May 16, 2015

In Memory of Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery

Elizabeth Montgomery is best known for playing Samantha Stephens, the good witch-with-a-twitch, on television’s classic sitcom, Bewitched, which originally aired on ABC from 1964 to 1972 – and for which she received eight Emmy nominations (among other accolades).  A staple in syndication ever since (and available on DVD), the show marks its 50thAnniversary this TV season, while May 18th commemorates the 20th Anniversary of Montgomery’s demise (from colon cancer).
As Samantha, Montgomery delivered a down-to-earth sincerity and, in the process, made an earnest connection with the home viewer.  But her most famous role was by-far not her first – nor certainly her last.
Born April 15, 1933 to heralded film and TV actor Robert Montgomery and Broadway actress Elizabeth Allen, the daughter Montgomery made over 200 appearances on stage and screen before Bewitched.  Her television career ignited on December 3, 1951 in the “Top Secret” episode of her father’s anthology series, Robert Montgomery Presents, in which she played none other than her father’s daughter.  On October 13, 1953, she made her Broadway debut in “Late Love,” for which she received the Daniel Blum Theatre Award for Most Promising Newcomer.  She went on to appear in movies like The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955), Who’s Been Sleeping In My Bed? and Johnny Cool (both released in 1963, the latter of which was directed by future Bewitched director/producer William Asher, her third husband.  (Her first was New York high-roller Fred Cammann, her second and fourth: actors Gig Young and Robert Foxworth.)
But it was on the small screen where Montgomery assuredly made her undeniable mark with shows like The Twilight Zone, The Untouchables, and 77 Sunset Strip, the latter of which holds particular significance in the scope of her career and in TV history.
In the Twilight episode, “Two” (debuting on CBS, September 15, 1961), she and future film star Charles Bronson were the only cast members playing the last two surviving soldiers from opposite sides who meet five years after an apocalyptic world war.  There was only one word of dialogue in the episode, and Montgomery spoke it: pryekrasnyy, the Russian word for “pretty.”
On The Untouchables, the beloved actress received her first Emmy-nomination for playing a prostitute in “The Rusty Heller Story” (debuting on ABC January 7, 1960).
In the Sunset segment, “White Lie” (ABC, October 23, 1953), she portrayed Charlotte DeLavalle, the conflicted half-white, half-black granddaughter of a character named Celia Jackson, who was played by the iconic Juanita Moore.
“Lie” featured a monumental premise that Moore had previously explored with her Oscar-nominated performance as Annie Johnson in the ground-breaking 1959 movie, Imitation of Life.  The “White” episode also showcased a substantial and historic theme that Montgomery would revisit on Bewitched - which began rehearsals on November 22, 1963 – the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Bewitched initially aired during the era of race rioting, the Vietnam War, amidst additional cultural and political challenges and assassinations (Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King).
For Montgomery, it was all very personal.  She and then-husband William Asher were good friends with President Kennedy (Asher directed Kennedy’s famous Inaugural event at which Marilyn Monroe sang a breathy “Happy Birthday”), and she felt the central message of Bewitched was prejudice.  “Yes, “she once wistfully intoned.  “That’s what it’s all about.”
In her view, Samantha loved her mortal husband Darrin (double-played by Dick York then Dick Sargent) despite their cultural differences (and the fierce objection of from Samantha’s mother Endora played by Agnes Moorehead), as they focused on what made the same: their common humanity.  “It was really a love story,” Montgomery said.
Bewitched bespoke other noteworthy themes including a strong work ethic, family values and priorities, and female independence.  Montgomery’s Samantha was one of the first liberated women of the television age, before Marlo Thomas as Ann Marie on That Girl (ABC, 1966-1971), and prior to Mary Tyler Moore’s Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (CBS, 1970-1977).  On Bewitched it was Samantha’s choice to live the mortal life.  She could have easily left Darrin in the lurch, but she chose to stay with her “human-half” because she loved him for who he was, and not for what he could buy her or do for her.  Because whatever he could buy or do she could twitch up something better.  In turn, Darrin objected to Samantha’s use of her special powers only because he nobly sought to care for her in what she frequently termed as “the every-day mortal way.”
Beyond Bewitched, Montgomery’s resume proved equally expressive and impressive, if not only for her theatrical abilities as an actress, but for the content of her work – on and off-screen.
In yet another Emmy-nominated performance, Montgomery played a woman who was raped twice in the TV-movie, A Case of Rape, premiering on NBC, February 20, 1974, a film that helped to change the laws of domestic violence and abuse.  She was a political activist throughout her life and career offering her name, time, money and efforts to a number of charitable causes, including UNICEF, the disabled community, and those suffering from AIDS.
As the daughter of wealthy and famous parents, Elizabeth Montgomery could have easily adopted an arrogant celebrity persona.  Instead, she did the exact opposite and, in the process, encouraged and instilled the same approachable demeanor into her three children (with William Asher: Bill, Robert and Rebecca Asher), inspiring her millions of fans along the way.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Please vote for The Classic TV Preservation Society in the Wells Fargo essay contest

Hello Everyone -

Please click on the link below and vote for my essay about The Classic TV Preservation Society in the Wells Fargo grant contest.

Please do also share this request with anyone on your email list, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, or any other social media site. 

Thanks so very much for your support!

Kindest always,

Herbie J Pilato
Founder, The Classic TV Preservation Society

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tribute to Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery

Today would have marked the 82nd birthday of beloved Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery.

Special commemorations about Elizabeth are planned for May 18th, which will mark the 20th Anniversary of her passing - all of this on the heels of this year 50th Anniversary of Bewitched's television debut.

The immortal memory of Elizabeth lives on in the legacy of love she left behind with her wonderful children (with William Asher): Bill, Robert and Rebecca Asher, and with her charitable ways (she advocated for the Peace Movement and the disabled community, and was one of the first celebrities to utilize her name, time and money in support of those suffering from AIDS).  Meanwhile, too, she also left behind an immense body of work that she created for her fans and all fans of classic television to embrace and enjoy forever.

Blessings to you, Elizabeth - and thank you for all your great contributions that you made to the world of entertainment.

We here at The Classic TV Preservation Society salute your life and career - as both continue to represent everything good and strong and pure and true about classic television programming.


Thursday, April 02, 2015

"The Chronicles of Ara" is a Genius Creation

With their new science-fiction/fantasy novel, The Chronicles of Ara: Creation (Topos Books, February 2015), authors Joel Eisenberg (TV writer/producer) and Stephen Hillard (equity entrepreneur and philanthropist) deliver an enormously elegant tale of imagination, wonder and genius that rivals the creative vision and intention of the iconic Gene Roddenberry and his Star Trek universe.

Eisenberg and Hillard exquisitely combine the realms of art and science with a grand-scale fictional tale based on such realistic significance that the reader walks away with a magnitude of hope that our real world seems a much better place (if only because of just this book being in it).

In effect, the reader becomes the work.  The authors, the work and the reader tingle and shimmer and shine as if in tandem with all the butterfly affects that any prized accomplishment - or accomplisher - or benefactor - could muster.

The Chronicles of Ara: Creation is simply a masterpiece creation itself; one envisioned by master artists.  Much more than just an initial chapter in a series of planned books, this Ara chronicles in a new era of an inaugural experience of grandeur; a telling portrait painted with such vibrant colors of efficiency that it should be shared in awe, across the board, in every museum...of fiction and reality.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Donna Douglas - A Real Sweetheart of Hollywood

Donna Douglas, best known as "Elly May" from the classic TV show, The Beverly Hillbillies, is gone.
But she indeed left her "beauty mark" in this world.
Sweet and loving-kind, on-screen and off, Donna was a true beauty of Hollywood, unaffected by the glitz of Tinseltown..
Besides her stint on Beverly, another of her more notable performances include of course her historic appearance on The Twilight Zone, in the episode, "Eye of the Beholder" - a segment which holds a sincere message for us all (inner elegance trumps exterior facades).
I had the great honor to meet Donna in January 2013, during The Hollywood Show - in Los Angeles.  Also there was her Hillbillies co-star Max Baer, Jr., who played Elly May's cousin Jethro.
It was wonderful to see them together again.  Fans would approach Donna and request that she do the "Elly May" whistle....or to speak the words, "This has been a Filmways presentation" (which she was heard saying at the end of every Hillbillies episode).  And she complied each time.
Meanwhile, too, with each autograph she would sign she added a Biblical verse.
When I asked her if I could interview her for my new book, Glamour, Gidgets and the Girl Next Door: Television's Iconic Women From the 50s, 60s and 70s  (Taylor Trade, 2014), she enthusiastically agreed.
She had honored me once more.
Today's stars are a dime a dozen;  but the grace and authenticity of those like Donna Douglas are far and few between.
We will all miss Donna Douglas....and yet we all know that she will always remain with us  - whether in classic TV reruns broadcast on Earth - or with rays of angelic Elly May joy - shining down from Heaven.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Richard Thomas - A Television Legend

When it comes to acting, Richard Thomas can do no wrong.

An acclaimed and diverse performer from day one, Thomas is best known in the world of classic television for his iconic, Emmy-winning performance as John-Boy Walton on The Waltons, which followed early riveting performances on notable shows such as Marcus Welby, M.D.

Decades later, Thomas hosted the heart-warming weekly series, It's A Miracle, which utilized his affable charms to introduce true tales of inspiration and courage from the files of real people who have experienced or required other-worldly assistance out of various life challenges.  And never had a host been more suited to a role.

Back in his Waltons days, it was Thomas (along with the Emmy-winning Michael Learned, Ralph Waite, Will Geer and Ellen Corby) who really road that show into becoming one of the best-acted weekly family dramas in the history of television (even The Carol Burnett Show once did a take-off entitled, The Walnuts, thus confirming that satire and imitation are the sincerest forms of flattery).

Through the years, Thomas has starred in countless hit TV-movies, notably 1990's It (based on Stephen King novel, and starring Thomas' good friend and former Waltons semi-regular John Ritter, of Three's Company fame), and The Christmas Box (which was based on the book of the same name), among many more.

With each performance or appearance, the viewer trusts Thomas to deliver the goods. He’s got it all down. The perfect pause between lines of delivery.  The ideal level of emotional display.  He’s never overtly-melodramatic or underwhelmingly shallow, but always just right.  His theatrical generosity on screen is clearly evident, as well, as various Thomas co-stars through the years have tended to look better and offer stronger performances just because they share screen time with the actor.

Suffice it say, when searching or surfing for something to watch and you come upon titles featuring Richard Thomas you can stop looking … because you’ve just uncovered an American treasure.