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Why Dick York Was Really Replaced In ‘Bewitched’

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After playing Darrin Stephens for six seasons, Dick York suddenly left the classic ’60s show, Bewitched, and was replaced by Dick Sargent for the remaining three seasons. York’s abrupt departure from the set was tricky as he was a main character; however, it was for valid reasons.

York played the loving and goofy husband to Elizabeth Montogomery’s Samantha, who came from a family of warlocks and witches. While the couple tried to live a normal life free of spells per Darrin’s wishes, Samantha’s mother, Endora, would often carry out magic at Darrin’s expense and oblivion.

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Why did Dick York leave ‘Bewitched’?

BEWITCHED, Dick York, 1964-1969.

The eight-season show debuted in September 1964, and it quickly became a family favorite as American households would tune in every Thursday night. The Stephen family was a delight to watch as their dynamic portrayed the changing reality of gender equality, particularly in marriage.

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Viewers became accustomed to the usual magic between York’s character and his wife until one day in 1960 when fans tuned in to a different Darrin. Reports say York left the show due to his deteriorating health and battle with addiction. He was said to have loved his role so much that he stuck it through previous seasons while depending on painkillers and resting between takes.

BEWITCHED, Dick York, 1964-72 (1964 photo)

What happened to Dick York?

York suffered a life-changing accident while filming the episode “They Came To Condura” in 1959. He recalled the incident during a farewell interview, explaining that he got injured while lifting a jarring weight of over 180 pounds. “The muscles along the right side of my back tore,” he said. “They just snapped and let loose. And that was the start of it all: the pain, the painkillers, the addiction, the lost career.”

The production crew endeavored to accommodate York’s new life by building a slanted wall backstage for him to lean on at intervals, but his pain worsened and caused shooting delays. The script would eventually get modified to give York fewer scenes that did not require him to stand or move around much. Darrin became less frequent in his final season with the excuse of him being on business or having more scenes with Samantha visiting her folks.

BEWITCHED, Dick York, 1964-1969.

York would finally get dropped after he collapsed while filming a special effects scene involving scaffolding. Director William Asher asked if he would quit, and he finally answered, “If it’s all right with you, Billy.” York died in 1992 due to complications from emphysema at Blodgett Hospital in East Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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