‘Bewitched’ Star, Elizabeth Montgomery, Had a Big Part in Naming Samantha Stephens

‘Bewitched’ Star, Elizabeth Montgomery, Had a Big Part in Naming Samantha Stephens

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Bewitched fans watched Samantha Stephens figure out how to live her life as a witch while married to a mortal named Darrin Stephens for eight seasons. They fell in love with the pretty blonde whose nose twitched furiously, but they almost didn’t watch a witch named Samantha. The network initially wanted to name the main character Cassandra. Elizabeth Montgomery forced the network to change the character’s name.

Elizabeth Montgomery was responsible for naming her ‘Bewitched’ Character Samantha

Elizabeth Montgomery was not the first choice for the starring role in Bewitched, nor was Samantha Stephens the intended name of the lead character. According to the New York Times, when Sol Saks penned the pilot script for Bewitched, the witch marrying a mortal was named Cassandra. Tammy Grimes was the actor that the network originally wanted for the part.

Grimes turned down the offer, which freed up Bewitched for Elizabeth Montgomery. The actor accepted the role but refused to play the part as Cassandra. According to Herbie J. Pilato, the author of The Bewitched Book, Montgomery felt like the name Cassandra was too deeply connected to Greek mythology. In Greek Mythology, Cassandra was given the ability to see the future by Apollo but was later cursed by him when she went back on her word. The network swapped out Cassandra for the alliterative name that fans came to know and love.

A character named Cassandra did eventually show up

The network may have nixed the name Cassandra to appease Elizabeth Montgomery, but they eventually got to use it. Cassandra, an evil witch, appears in two episodes of Bewitched. It didn’t take long for the name to be used, either. Cassandra showed up in the show’s very first season.

In both episodes, Cassandra, who is not given a last name, is a part of the witches’ council but uses her spells for evil instead of good. She was last seen by Bewitched fans in the season 1 episode, “Tabitha’s Party.” She was not mentioned again.

The name Samantha turned out to be a good choice, and it may have even influenced baby name trends for years to come. In 1964, the year Bewitched premiered, Samantha was the 474th most popular female name, according to the Social Security Administration. It sat below the top 1000 in prior years.

The following year, its popularity surged, with Samantha breaking into the top 200. By the time Bewitched ended, Samantha was the 137th most popular name for girls born that year. The name has enjoyed relative popularity since. It didn’t reach its peak popularity until decades later, though. In 1998, the name was the third most-used baby name for girls.

Cassandra, the original name considered by the network for Samantha Stephens, was decidedly more popular when the series first premiered. Still, it did not enjoy the same meteoric rise in popularity that Samantha did. In 1964, Cassandra was the 217th most popular baby name. By 1972, the year the series ended, Cassandra jumped to the 139th most popular.

‘Bewitched’ Star, Elizabeth Montgomery, Had a Big Part in Naming Samantha Stephens

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