Why Were There
Why did Dick York quit one of the best jobs in television - co-star of the hit sitcom Bewitched - and then seemingly drop off of the face of the Earth?
The Dick York Darrin was the best as far as I was concerned, I liked his skittish, perpetually-frightened reactions over the cocky, incredulous Dick Sargent Darrin that followed. For my money, Dick York played panic better than any other actor on television.
But Dick York had a secret that the producers didn't know when they hired him - he was chronically ill and addicted to painkillers.
A severe back injury on the set of the film 'They Came to Cordura' in 1959 left the actor with a habit for pills to relieve the constant pain he would have to endure for the rest of his life.
In 1962, Dick York was cast as a regular in the TV series 'Going My Way'. The show starred Gene Kelly as Father O'Malley and Leo G. Carroll as Father Fitzgibbon. The experience was a good one for York, but his back flared up often during the series run.
During the production special ramps were built to make maneuvering the set easier for the actor. Despite high critical acclaim for the show, 'Going My Way' was cancelled in the fall of 1963.
THINGS GET BETTER - THEN WORSE
In September, 1964 'Bewitched' debuted on ABC, with Elizabeth Montgomery as housewitch Samantha Stephens and Dick York cast as her hapless husband Darrin.
The series shot to the number-two position in the Neilsen ratings by season's end. 'Bewitched was so popular that ABC began re-running it during weekday mornings for two years starting in 1968.
Dick York played the role of Darrin for five years, through black and white and color, through the honeymoon, intense in-law meddling and on into fatherhood.
For all of those years the show stayed in (or hovered around) the top ten and through all of that time York suffered from a rollercoaster of pain and painkillers.
Then the "attack" came.
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