Bewitched was launched in 1963. At first Agnes treated it as just another vehicle. She was dumbfounded that it became so popular. Still, because of her beliefs about clean entertainment, she was not really surprised. Agnes told me on several occasions that she liked the part of Endora because as she got into it, she realized it turned order out of chaos.
Another time she said, "I believe a theme like Bewitched is a wholesome reversal of the bunk and trend toward sordidness." Her strong feelings about the philosophy of her craftsmanship were never more evident than in the part of Endora. She said, "The magic an actor has should be used to release the human heart. You can go just so far with this neurotic stuff. The human spirit needs something else."
Continuing about her favorite role as Endora, she said, "You should never know what she's going to do. The stranger the spot she is occupying, the better. That's what is marvelous about playing comedy, playing for the unexpected. It's distorted from reality, and therefore the happening becomes a surprise. After all, nothing is as dull as constant reality."
When interviewers appeared amazed at what a private person Agnes was, she would toss it off with that verve of hers, "I've never wanted to be a personality. I've always tried to be completely different in my characterizations."
It was to be expected that several attempts at copies of Bewitched sprang into being, that is, along the line of the supernatural. When asked if she minded others copying their very successful series, Agnes said, "Just remember the original always wears better than the copy. Besides, we already have our audience. "
Hal Humphrey in the Los Angeles Times [7-23-651 said, "The reason Agnes Moorehead always wears so well is because she is an original. "
People often thought Agnes was English because of her nearly perfect diction. She remarked: "I've noticed that English actresses nearly always have good diction, but I supposed it was because they learn acting in the theater instead of via movies, television, and the like."
As a matter of fact, there was a great deal of the British Isles in her family background. She was proud that her paternal grandfather was from Edinburgh and that her paternal grandmother was from London. Her maternal grandmother was from Dublin and her maternal grandfather was from Wales.
The first review I could find of her part in Bewitched was by Don Freeman. There was no date or name of the paper on the review clipped out. Mr. Freeman said: "Agnes Moorehead is, as always, a tower of eminence." The producers were later to write in more and more parts for her as time went on.
Agnes was always charmed to have children come up to her and meekly say, "Aren't you gonna disappear?"
Since she had such a fondness for lavender or mauve, it was no surprise that her dressing room for Bewitched was done in lavender.
I thought it was Biblically fitting that Agnes played the part of Endora, since I suppose the name was based on the witch of Endor, so famous in the Old Testament. It would have pleased her to play the part of such a witch so many centuries after Bible times. My first remembrance of her was that she cast a spell offstage as well as on, off camera as well as on. The Titian hair, the blue eyes, and the voice that was unforgettable. She was shorter than I had imagined.
At first I was startled by her deadpan face. As many came to realize, one could begin to measure her real intent by her voice. Her mood was usually indicated by her voice. When she really wanted to confuse someone, she did it with those bewitching eyes.
In addition to the scores of movie films and the scores of Bewitched episodes, Agnes also appeared in over one hundred television productions. Add to these tremendous achievements the hundreds of radio shows, hundreds of personal appearances, and endless reading appearances plus recording and voice-overs, one's mind is boggled by her prodigious feats. Way back when she was given the New York Film Critic's Award for her performance in The Magnificent Ambersons, it was said that she was a scholar and a protean artist. The ensuing years only attest to the achievements of this great lady.
Some of her television shows were: Ballad of Andy Crocker, with Jimmy Dean, Lee Majors, Pat Hingle; Barefoot in the Park, a pilot for ABC; Wagon Train; Playhouse 90; Shirley Temple's Theater productions of Rapunzel and Land of Oz; The Rebel; Studio One; Twilight Zone; The Rifleman; Rex Harrison's Anthology: Epicac by Kurt Vonnegut, Kiss Me Again, Stranger by Daphne Du Maurier; The Fortunate Painter, with Lorne Green, Jess Walton, written by Somerset Maugham.
A Walt Disney show with Burgess Meredith [10-31-71].
One of her last, if not the last, was Dr. Frankenstein in 1973.
The Tempest with the late Van Heflin in 1967 (she received much mail for this).
Alice Through the Looking Glass, [11-6-661 reputed to be the most expensive set since Mary Martin's celebrated Peter Pan over half a million dollars. This was made with Jimmy Durante, Nanette Fabray, Ricardo Montalban, and Jack Palance, plus some others.
She appeared in countless telethons for every conceivable type of charity. Agnes was the guest on most panel talk shows, including those of Steve Allen, Joey Bishop, Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, Irv Kupinet. Hollywood Palace claimed her, too.
For several years before her death, Agnes' agent was Jim Jacobsen of International Famous Agency. He told me: "Do you see that Emmy nomination on the wall? Agnes insisted I have it. Not many persons would do that. From all the stars I've known, she was a Super Lady. I don't know how else to describe her." He went on, "She was client, friend, an absolute perfectionist. We worked together six years. That's a long time in this business.
"The first time I attended one of her annual Christmas parties, I supposed it would be informal and arrived in sweater and slacks. Agnes pointed out to me one of the top stars who was in a tuxedo. It wasn't a putdown, she just wanted me to subtly know she hoped I'd dress more appropriately in the future. So, came the next year, she was plainly petrified that her agent might turn up informal again. So for weeks she reminded me, 'Please, please at least wear black pinstripes and try to look like my agent should look.' I obliged her, of course. She was too great a lady to do otherwise.
"Negotiating contracts are always a headache, especially the little details. It's the little details that sometimes knock you out! Well, we called one year the 'Year of the Kleenex Clause.' You know Agnes, she was always running out of them. Her intense makeup for the part of Endora was murder on Kleenex. With all the joking about it, she was still very adamant that-one, there always was to be an adequate supply; two, they must be of particular size; three, you know her passion for purple-they must be a particular color; and four, above all, they had to be a particular brand. Well, we finally came to terms, but it was some year." The little more and how much it is!