Sunday October 31, 1999 was a very special Halloween! We were invited by Bill & Meredith Asher to visit and interview Bill in their home in Southern California, so Joe packed his bags (and Halloween costume for the annual Bewitched cast Halloween party - he gets to have ALL the fun!) and headed 3000 miles west for a weekend of fun. For those of you who don't know, Bill was the husband of Elizabeth Montgomery during the Bewitched years, father of her 3 children and Producer/Director of Bewitched (and many other famous shows.)
Joe arrived around 1 PM and was warmly greeted by the Ashers along with Meredith's granddaughter who was visiting for the day and the Asher family dog. We wanted to bring him a special gift and debated on what would be appropriate. After hearing that Bill had heard there were some vintage Kentucky Derby plates at Elizabeth's estate sale that he would have loved to have had but didn't have the chance to purchase, we knew what we would give him; we had been lucky enough to purchase one of these wonderful plates at Elizabeth's estate sale a few months earlier (it was my favorite piece of everything we got), but I (without hesitation) decided to part with it as it would be the most meaningful gift we could give him. So after carefully hand-carrying it back from California that summer, back into the suitcase it went to make its way "back home" again. Bill excitedly opened the box and was overwhelmed when he saw the plate. The plate was obviously a reminder of all the times he and Liz attended the races and of her love of horses and the track. He was moved to tears and really loved the plate. The pictures below tell the whole story.
The hallway in their home was lined with photos & documents documenting William Asher's long and prosperous career. Autographed photos from all the greats including Judy Garland abound; Lucille Ball: "How Sweet William a thing of beauty is a joy forever isn't it? Love Lucy". Danny Thomas: "Dear Bill: The Russians may have launched the first satellite, but you launched the "Danny Thomas Show" Ever Grateful, Danny". President John F. Kennedy: To Bill Asher, My very best wishes, John Kennedy". Art Carney: Dear Bill, this is also one of my favorite memories of the Dinah Shore Show. I mean it! Sincerely, Art Carney". Jimmy Durante: "Dear Bill, I agree - what a picture - I loves ya - Jimmy Durante". There is a Congratulatory Western Union Telegram with an attached cigar dated November 10, 1964 that reads: "One cigar and our thanks for your contribution in helping make ABC number one in the National Neilsen reports. Congratulations! Ed Scherick".
There are photos of Marilyn Monroe at the presidential birthday bash that Bill produced with him standing next to Marilyn - you've seen the famous one backstage, now see the one you haven't seen here! There is an invitation to the inauguration of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Some of the award plaques: 1952 Sylvania Television Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Creative Television Technique (I Love Lucy), 1953 Sylvania Television Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Creative Television Technique (Make Room For Daddy), The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences nomination for the Best Musical or Variety Series Jan. 1958-Feb. 1959 (Dinah Shore Chevy Show), The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences nomination for the Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Children's programming April 1960-April 1961 (Shirley Temple Show NBC), The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences nomination for the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy 1965-1966, 1966-1967, 1967-1968 (Bewitched), TV Forecast Annual Award 1951 for Racket Squad, and many many more. His Emmy statues are nearby as well. Shelves hold leather bound copies of all the scripts for the shows he worked on over the years including The Jane Wyman Theatre, Pepsi-Cola Theatre, Little Theatre, Invitation Playhouse, The Dennis Day Show, Boomer, Return To Green Acres, Charley's Aunt, Movers And Shakers, The Dukes Of Hazzard, Alice, Gidget, Danny Thomas Show, Make Room For Daddy, Fibber McGee & Molly, Sally, The Paul Lynde Show, Leather Gloves, Capsule Mysteries, You Be The Jury, December Bride, The Twenty-Seventh Day, The Shirley Temple Show, Private Benjamin, The Patty Duke Show and the Colgate Summer Comedy Hour. In amongst these is a book simply titled "Bewitched Wrap Party" which contains photos of the party which took place after the filming of the final Bewitched episode in the 1969-1970 season. Inside the Bewitched volumes are hand written notes by Liz and doodles she did on many pages. Large movie posters from all of his beach movies as well as drama and sci-fi flicks line the walls too. There is a cool, large image that says "The 50 Millionth Frame From Bewitched", it shows a picture made from that frame and the frame of film itself (see photo). Bill's love for the beach and "fun in the sun" naturally meant he loved to surf! Bill served in the army too! Here's Bill with the Kukla, Fran & Ollie gang. Leather Gloves was one of the first movies Bill worked on. One of my favorite photos shows Bill on the beach with a young Sally Field from their show "Gidget" (see photo below)
We had written about 6-7 page of questions ahead of time, and we got through most all of the questions. Topics ran the gamut from what he is doing today to early pre-Bewitched projects to his relationship with Elizabeth which spanned over 30 years. The questions took about 2-1/2 hours to get through.
Exclusive bewitched.net Interview Audio Clips
This original interview conducted by Joe & Wendy of The Bewitched & Elizabeth Montgomery Web Site http://www.bewitched.net ©1999. All rights reserved. Interview clips in whole or in part may not be copied, sold or otherwise reproduced or presented elsewhere.
NOTE: You must have the current version of Real Player to hear the clips. You may download this version here.
1. We started the interview with some questions about what Bill is doing with his time today. Clip 1 Clip 2
2. Bill talks about the longevity of Bewitched and how the idea for the show originated. Clip 1 Clip 2 (con't from Clip 1)
3. Bill discusses the assasination of Kennedy, the early years of Bewitched & Dick York's illness.
4. Bill remembers how the twitch was born.
5. Hear what Bill remembers about some of the different cast members and the characters they played. Clip 1 Clip 2
6. Bill compares working with Liz to working with Lucy.
7. We talk a little about Liz's ability to sing!
8. Hear about the "no-tell motel!"
9. Here's a little about different episodes we asked about.
10. A little discussion about the Bewitched "house".
11. Bill talks about directing.
12. Did Liz smoke?
13. We discuss the pressures of being a working mom.
14. Did Liz like to give interviews?
15. We ask about outtakes and other important show memorabilia that might be left.
16. Bill talks about his and Liz's relationship over the years.
17. Bill discusses Liz's illness around the time of her last 2 movies.
18. ~ VIDEO CLIP ~ What Elizabeth meant to him. (1.1 MB)
19. How about the legacy he has left us with?
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