With Dick York in so much pain, situations were contrived to allow him to be lying down or reclining as much as possible. Because of the nature of the program 'Bewitched', occasionally scenes arose that put a strain on York.
One day, the crew was setting up for a special effects shot with Maurice Evans (playing Darrin's warlock Father-in-Law) and Dick York. York needed to be suspended fifteen feet in the air for the scene.
It had been a bad day for the show's co-star, he went to the doctor earlier in the day for the pain. He was on a cycle of taking pain pills at night to sleep and shots of novocaine and cortisone in the back during the bad days. York tells the story in his autobiography Seesaw Girl:
"They were setting an inky - that's a little tiny spot that's supposed to be filling in my eyes. Someone kept passing his hand back and forth in front of the light to see where the light was falling, all very difficult, but somehow all that flickering made me feel weird and I'm sitting on this platform up in the air and Maurice is sitting there too and I'm trying to go over my lines; they don't mean a damn thing. But I know that they're a stickler for these lines being exactly the way they're supposed to be. If this line is bibbetty wham bang whoppo, that's what you better say. Anyway I'm running these lines back and forth and they're making less sense to me and this light is flickering off and on and I turned to Gibby, a friend of mine on the set, and I say 'I have to get down', and I put my hand on his shoulder and he said, 'Sure, Dick'."
At that point the poor guy passed out and was rushed to the hospital. Let's see - painkillers and witchcraft incantations - sounds like a lethal combination to me! While recuperating in the hospital, Bill Asher ('Bewitched' producer/director and Elizabeth Montgomery's husband) paid the stricken star a visit. He asked York if he wanted to quit the show, and York said yes.
The actor remained on his back for the next year and fell on hard times soon after. Bad investments left Dick York broke, his teeth rotted out (a common problem for drug abusers), so he and his wife were reduced to cleaning houses for a living.
Meanwhile on 'Bewitched', Dick Sargent took over the role of Darrin Stephens. While he looked a lot like Dick York, Sargent played the part with a more defiant stance against his witchy in-laws.
The first episode that Sargent filmed was called "Samantha's Better Halves" - a remake of a Dick York episode. In the episode, Endora splits Darrin into 2 personalities - one gregarious, the other all business. It was decided against using this as the first 'new Darrin' show broadcast because Sargent was so nervous during the filming.
Another reason to delay the episode - Samantha utters the phrase, "But I only want one Darrin" and other comments along those lines all throughout. There are those who believe this script was a jab from the writers directed towards the producers for not standing by Dick York.
In an effort to distract viewers from the switch in husbands, another baby was added to the Stephens' household, Tabitha's little brother Adam.
Thereafter, character of Darrin Stephens became more of a puppet for Endora (Agnes Morehead) as she (or the kids) cast the spell of the week on him or conjured up some famous person from a book.
'Bewitched' dropped in the ratings from number 11 in 1969 (the last Dick York Darrin year) to number 24 in 1970 (the first Dick Sargent Darrin year). The next year, the show dropped out of the top thirty, and the next year 'Bewitched' ended an eight-season run.
In 1980, Dick York got his life together, got his teeth fixed and went back to work, guest-starring on shows like 'Fantasy Island' and 'Simon and Simon'.
His comeback was short-lived and he devoted most of the rest of his life to helping the homeless. Dick York died in 1992.
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