by Flora Rand

TV Radio Mirror
August 1965
One good baby deserves another--but wee Billy Asher's about to see double!
"And what will you have, Billy boy?" If Liz and Bill Asher's firstborn could put it into words, he'd chortle: "Two baby sisters--one here at home and one on TV." This time, Liz vows, there won't be all the trouble she had with her first pregnancy on "Bewitched." This time, with Samantha's help, she's weaving tiny garments with magic (and thinking pink)!
All this and Heaven too? Bill and Liz know it isn't every couple who can live and work together as they do--and now each tick of the clock brings another dream closer.
    It isn't a new gimmick. Other stars have had babies on TV at the same time they welcomed a little stranger at home. But there's one whopping big difference in the case of Elizabeth Montgomery and the out-of-this-world wife she plays in Bewitched: As much as Liz and her husband, Bill Asher, passionately desire another tiny tot in their private life, there are definitely those who think "Sam" should never have a child on TV at all! Even Sam's husband has had moments of doubt. (After all, having one witch in the household--two, if you count the sudden materializations of his mother-in-law, Endora--has been almost more than Darrin can cope with. You could hardly blame him for wondering what he'll ever do if baby makes three...witches!)

     So why is Liz-Sam going to have a baby on TV? Did TV's favorite sorceress get jealous when she divined that Liz was expecting again, while Sam herself was still childless? Or did Sam start anticipating first, and then Liz decide that no little TV shadow was going to beat her to the delivery room?

     You can almost hear Liz informing her ever-loving husband Bill--who also happens to be her director--"If that witch is planning to have a baby, I will have my second first! After all, dear, I am the star and she is only a figment of our imagination." And you can certainly believe Bill when he tells you to your face that the news that Liz was pregnant again hit the studio like a bomb!

     "They let out a screech," he grins, "you could hear halfway around the world. 'Don't tell us,' they begged, 'that we'll have to sit out the wait for another baby. It's too much to ask of mere flesh and blood.'

     "I could hardly blame them. When Liz was pregnant last year with our first--William Allen, born that July 24th--the production schedule on
Bewitched was so far behind, everyone connected with the series had to work fifty hours a week to catch up in time to meet our deadline for kicking off the show. Now the same people would be trapped on the same treadmill. Liz was due in November--and November, the horrified studio yelped, was when production should be halfway completed for the year.

     "I could sense their panic, and suddenly a flash of inspiration struck. I bleated, 'Don't worry. I've got a honey of an idea! We'll just make Samantha pregnant, too, and she and Liz can be expecting together--one for real, and the other for TV.'"

     That, swears Bill, is how it actually happened that both Sam and Liz are becoming mothers this fall. And that's why fans will have the pleasure of watching Liz greet motherhood--and face up to its bewitching problems--right on TV, with the special glow that Sam could never achieve for herself by merely "supernatural" powers.

     Meanwhile, as if by magic, the expected arrival of little Rebecca--the name Liz and Bill hopefully have decided to call their daughter, for Liz insists it will be a girl and Sam's weaving spells to make it so--is now thought to be a marvelous "plus" for the series. Cast and crew are all smiles these days, united in thier belief that the baby will bring a new dimension to the series. It will get more laughs, they say, and the bewildered Darrin and his witch-wife will become an even more attractive couple.

     For some reason, possibly having to do with witchcraft, the rumors were flying that Liz was pregnant months before her doctor confirmed the diagnosis. "I was constantly denying it," she laughs, "but the mail kept coming in from all parts asking if I was expecting. So, after a while, I gave up trying to kill the rumors. Then, when it came out that I was, letters came pouring in saying, 'Huh, you didn't fool me with your
no, no, no's. I knew you were all the time.' And the columnists are all claiming they had the story first.

     "If they did, Endora must have been casting some spells around, because even I didn't know it till the doctor told me. And to show how far we were from knowing, when I gave Bill the doctor's report, his first remark after coming out of his daze was 'Come on, you have to be kidding!'"

     Taking a long sharp look at the subject, it shouldn't have surprised anyone that Liz would soon be bound to follow Billy's birth with an addition to the family. She has always been kind of frank about wanting four or five kiddies around the house. It is her belief that an only child tends to get spoiled--and this could still be true, despite the fact that Liz had acquired two children second-hand when she married Bill.

     "Bill has two by his first marriage," she explains, "a girl, Lee Ann (sic), 12, and a boy, Brian, 10. But it's not like having your own children because--as much as we love Bill's kids--they live with their mother. And this, too, made me want another child. Whenever Lee Ann and Brian came to visit, I noticed how they fussed over little Billy.

     "With the attention Billy already gets from his father and me, I realized that, the sooner he got a little sister, the less chance he'd have to get spoiled. The funny thing is, Lee Ann has been complaining that Brian got his wish when I gave him a baby brother and now it's her turn to get a baby sister! So, if it is a girl, she'll be jumping for joy."

     Choosing the name "Rebecca" was easy, Liz's maternal grandmother was adored by Liz and her brother, Skip, and they called her "Becca"--a loving diminutive of Rebecca. Last fall, Becca passed away, and the actress vowed to call her first daughter after the woman who "had as much influence on my development as Mother and Dad."

     As we noted, depicting a star's own motherhood as part of her TV life is not new. The first and most exciting instance took place twelve years ago, when Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV arrived on
I Love Lucy. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had one child, Lucie, and the star had been told that her second child would be her last. The Arnazes grew obssesed with the desire to have a boy to "round out the family." From the day Lucy announced she was expecting, she had all her co-workers, friends and fans "thinking blue."

     "I was directing
I Love Lucy at the time," Bill Asher recalls, "and Lucy and Desi were as positive they'd have a boy as Liz is sure our second will be a girl."

     Liz is as cocky about having a girl as Lucy was about a boy. After insisting that Bill direct the episode when she and Darrin (Dick York) become TV parents, she assured the producer Danny Arnold that her second child would be "a package of pink. So you'd better think pink and get your script-writers to create their situations around a little girl."

     But, demured Arnold, "supposing it's a boy?" Liz gave her blonde hair a toss and pronounced grandly, "I, Samantha the witch, assure you it will be a girl...and if my instinct should prove false, witchcraft will put it all to rights!"

     With or without magic, Liz has been wrong before. She made up her mind that her firstborn was destined to be a girl, and she even began painting the nursery a delicate pink until Bill, a practical man, gently removed the brush from her hot little hand. "First, we'll let a professional painter do the job and second, you can have your choice of white or yellow, just in case little Becca turns out to be Billy Allen."

     Liz compromised on white and yellow, and it proved to be a wise choice indeed. Bill's "just in case" turned out to be very much the case. But Liz would not exchange the cute pink "little things" she had purchased for Becca for blue ones to suit a possible Billy. "If it's a he, we'll buy him other things in blue," she said firmly, "but the next one will definitely be Becca, and so the pink things will say until she gets here."

     Although her babies will be a mere fourteen months apart, Liz poohpoohs the notion of "sibling rivalry." She reasons thusly: "There's only a two-year gap between my brother and me. And I can't recall an instance of jealousy between us as we grew up. Oh, I guess there were occasions when kid brother Skip got in big sister's way! But jealousy? Not a bit of it.

     "And look at Lee Ann and Brian," she croons. "They get along beautifully!"

     Thanks to Samantha's TV pregnancy, the pressure is off Liz and she looks it. There is an eager, fresh lilt to her walk and converstaion that was lacking during the time she carried Billy, when the future of
Bewitched was involved in her meeting the date set for shooting the first episodes. Now, the first twenty episodes of next season's show will deal with the pregnancy of Samantha and Liz need not trouble her charming head about her "condition" delaying production.

     With the doctor predicting the birth of her second child on or about November 1st, and with Liz probably returning to work December 15th, it is logical for the studio to have set the birth of Samantha's baby for an early week in January. Since the sex of LIz's baby is undetermined (in spite of Liz's prediction), the sex of Samantha's baby will have to wait on Liz. The writers are said to be clutching pens in hand, holding their plots in tight rein until word arrives from the actual delivery room. Once Liz's second child is brought into the light of day, the series will depict Samantha giving birth. Then, in usual Hollywood style, identical twin infants will be hired to alternate in the baby scenes.

     Meanwhile, according to the Ashers, little Billy is showing every sign of being a full-blooded American boy. He crawls energetically, tries to pull himself up to his tottery feet, and makes every motion of beginning to talk. He has become close buddies with "Zip-Zip," the family cat. And it is Liz's impression that "Billy's first word will not be Mama or Papa, I'm afraid, but Zip-Zip! It's the funniest thing to watch Billy snatch at Zip-Zip and see our dignified Siamese twitch his tail--just as Samantha might twitch her nose when casting a spell--and elude the baby's grasp.

     "But the funniest of all was when Agnes Moorehead, my TV mother, Endora, came to visit. She was suddenly startled at a sound Billy made when she lifted him into her lap. 'What in Heaven is that?' she goggled. It was Billy trying to mimic our cat's purring noise!"

Samantha, of course, can undoubtedly purr. And the Ashers would if they could. What's better than having a baby? Having two babies--even if one of them is born on TV!