Battle of the Dicks
Why did Dick York Leave Bewitched? This has been a very popular question amongst retro TV aficionados throughout the years. Let get into the meat of the problem by first exploring the genesis of the hit television show Bewitched. We have a full article on this subject on it’s own page here. You can click the image below to read that article:
Ugghhhhh, my back is killing me!
It is widely known that Dick York had major back problems but few know that he sustained that injury while making a movie called “They Came to Cordura”. This movie was a 1959 Western film starring Gary Cooper, Rita Hayworth, Van Heflin and Tab Hunter. Dick York played Private Renziehausen, not a memorable role for him.
In Dick York’s own words, “Gary Cooper and I were propelling a handcar carrying several wounded soldiers down the railroad track. I was on the down-stroke of this sort of teeter-totter mechanism that made the handcar run. I was lifting the handle up as the director yelled ‘cut!’ and then one of the wounded cast extras reached up and grabbed the handle. I was suddenly, jarringly, lifting his entire weight off the flat-bed. It was 180 lbs or so. The muscles along the right side of my back tore. They just snapped. And that was the start of it all: the pain, the painkillers, the addiction, the lost career.”
Problems on the Set
Why did Dick York Leave Bewitched? As you can imagine, working on a physical comedy show like Bewitched was extremely difficult for Mr York. The producers and directors made efforts to decrease Dick’s pain by shooting several scenes with him either leaning against a wall, sitting on a couch or lying in bed. This was a temporary fix to a permanent problem.
In the 5th season of Bewitched, Dick had pushed himself so hard that he collapsed on set and had to be rushed to the hospital. After the incident, York and producer William Asher (Elizabeth Montgomery‘s real-life husband) had a long talk and they agreed that Dick would leave the show for good.
A New Dick
Despite declining ratings, Bewitched plowed ahead with season 6, replacing Dick York with Dick Sargent. Lackluster writing and competition from cutting-edge television shows like All in the Family, Bewitched struggled and eventually ended in 1974 with Dick Sargent putting in only 3 seasons as Darren Stevens
Why did Dick York really leave Bewitched? It is a lesser known fact that Dick York was infatuated with Elizabeth Montgomery and frequently sat and stared love-struck while watching her work. This caused Elizabeth to become uncomfortable, a feeling she expressed to producer (and hubby) William Asher. Many people speculate that this tension only expedited York’s departure from the show. We’ll never really know!
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