by Sylvia Resnick

TV Radio Mirror
February 1970
As the date of her wedding approached, Liz suddenly felt that something vital was missing from her life...
    She let the cab go at the corner, deciding to walk the rest of the way despite the blustery wind that chilled the air. Pulling up the collar of her fur coat, Elizabeth Montgomery held it close with one gloved hand while the other kept a wisp of satin and net firmly perched atop her ash-blond hair...The hat had been a last-moment change. Though it might be a bit frivolous-looking, Liz had decided that the pale blue chapeau matched her mood--and was therefore appropriate for this solemn occasion. New York might be battling late-winter sleet and wind, but inside Elizabeth there was the decided feeling of spring! Her entire being sang with the warmth and beauty of her favorite season. The hat might be a bit out of place weatherwise...but it went along with the wonderful feeling of joy that swept through her. She bent her head slightly to ward off a sudden flurry of snowflakes, and grimaced. Not snow again! Then she was there...standing in front of the old church with its impressive spire towering high, reaching toward heaven. Elizabeth's mouth quivered a bit, then she smiled to herself: a small, secret smile that lit up her face with something close to radiance. Soon...on a day in early spring...she would apprach these same steps again. On that day she would be accompanied by dozens of others, people who loved her. On that March day in 1954, she would alight from an automobile to be guided up the wide steps with the reverence and awe due a young bride.

     But today--today was very important in its own right! She ascended the stone steps slowly, knowing that what she was about to do was an event which would remain forever etched in her memory. She had never explored the reasons why she had not been baptized as a child.

     Not until a few weeks ago had the subject ever been a compelling one. Then, from some unexplainable inner prompting, Liz had decided that this would be the time: Before she married, she wanted to hear the minister formally declare her a Christian. A rush of gratitude toward her parents overcame her for a long moment. In their wisdom, they had allowed her to come to this moment by her own choosing--because
she wanted it. How much more sacred it was because of this!

     Now she walked past the huge doors, through the vestibule, to enter the hushed tranquility of the empty church with its lovely stained glass windows. The minister, whom she had come to know well in the weeks she had been seeing him for instruction prior to the actual baptism ceremony, moved forward to greet her. Then she was at the altar, kneeling, head bowed while he spoke the essential words.

     There were tears in her eyes when it was over. She had kept this her secret, but tonight she would make the annoucement that it had been done. And when they asked her why, she would state simply: "I just wanted to, that's all."

     Some 15 years later, Elizabeth Montgomery still maintains that her reason for being baptized at the age of 21 was simply that she felt the
need to do it at that particular time. Curled up comfortably on the sofa of her cozy dressing room on the set of Bewitched, she glances about her at the things that are significantly a part of her life today. Small as it is, the room is filled with homelike touches, mementos that reflect the inner happiness one senses immediately upon meeting Liz--a happiness she has known completely, ever since her marriage to producer-director William Asher in 1963.

     Life wasn't always so supremely perfect for this talented and beautiful young woman. What Liz had thought of as perfection was sharply ended for her at the vulnerable age of 17. That was the year her parents were divorced after 22 years of marriage; a union idealistic young Elizabeth had thought nothing short of
perfect. One can't help wondering if the trauma of that crushing event might have been the prime factor in her decision to be baptized four years later...when her own marriage was imminent.

     Her husband-to-be was Frederic Gallatin Cammann, a Harvard man whose family had been in the Social Register for years. Elizabeth was in love. She had always looked to marriage as her ultimate goal in life. Realizing how it had turned out for her parents, perhaps LIz felt she must reach out for every bit of support available.

     Liz has always been close-mouthed about the details of her personal life. Outwardly, she appeared to take her parents' divorce with dignified aplomb, but it isn't hard to imagine what the breakup meant to her at the time.

A new need for God's love
     Today, Elizabeth Montgomery Asher finds herself as concerned about religion as she was in those months of decision before her short-lived marriage to Fred Cammann. But for entirely different reasons! As mother of two frisky runabouts (William Allen and Robert Deverell) and a baby daughter (Rebecca Elizabeth), she has had to think about the subject far more than she did in her own childhood:

     "My brother, Skip, and I went to Sunday School but we did not say prayers at bedtime, and our famiy was not one that regularly attended church. I suppose we believed in God, but in our own way. I enjoyed Sunday School, looked forward to going. But to me the stories were more like fairy tales. I didn't really take them seriously.

     "I know that many children live in mortal fear because their parents have scared them by saying that unless they are good, God will punish them. Using fright to teach religion seems to me to be very unhealthy. After all, if we can't base our belief in a Supreme Being on
love, then how can any of us truly believe?"

     Her pretty features settle into a thoughtful expression as she continues. "Our children are still a bit young to ask questions about God, and truthfully I don't know how I will answer them when they do! There are times when I am a little uncertain about my own beliefs. I know that there are a good many people turn to religion out of a deep need, and I think it's wonderful that they can accept some of the horrors that happen--such as war and poverty--because of their intense faith. It would certainly be a lot easier to live in this world of turmoil we're in now!

     "We want the boys to go to Sunday School. I feel that it is a good foundation for any child. After all, even as a piece of literature alone, there is so much that is fine and wonderful in the Bible. But how do you answer questions about the fact that a plane can drop a bomb which will completely wipe out an entire city? How do you justify a God that allows such terrible things to happen? Maybe that's why our younger generation is asking so many questions," she sighs.

     "I think of God as the beauty in life," she sums up musingly. "It's loving and being loved; it's feeling good inside because you are living the life of a good person. Myabe it's a good idea to try new ways of looking at the subject."

     Fifteen years ago, Elizabeth Montgomery undertook to bring into her life something precious that had been missing. It has been a long, hard climb to happiness since her baptism, but she has made it. While her career flourished, her personal life floundered as two marriages ended in divorce (her second husband was Gig Young, the actor). But as we all know, Elizabeth Montgomery is made of very sturdy stuff. Once she had formally declared her belief in God, she knew her feet were on the right path. Now, secure in the love of Bill Asher and their three little ones, she knows that heaven isn't so far away, after all.