Obituary: Dick Sargent

Richard Cox (Dick Sargent), actor: born Carmel, California 19 April 1930; died Los Angeles 8 July 1994.

AS THE CONSUMMATE American corporate man driven by the work ethic and put out to find on honeymoon that his charming wife is a witch, Dick Sargent was an actor who had the unenviable tasks of taking over the role of the beleaguered husband in Bewitched, the popular Sixties comedy series that is still repeated around the world. But the programme continued to attract massive audiences for the remaining three years of its hugely successful run.

Sargent was born Richard Cox, into a show-business family. He was the son of the actress Ruth McNaughton, who appeared in films such as Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Hearts and Triumphs, and Col Elmer Cox, business manager of stars such as Douglas Fairbanks. While studying at Stanford University, Cox junior acted with the Standard Players Theatre and, on graduation, landed a bit-part in the film Prisoner of War (1954) - a Korean prison-camp drama starring Ronald Reagan - and changed his professional name to Sargent, although he continued to be credited as Richard for many years.

Struggling to make ends meet between acting jobs, he dug ditches, worked as a salesman in a department store, went into the import-export business in the Mexican city of San Miguel Allende and began collecting Mexican art.

He then returned to Hollywood and eventually found work in television programmes such as Medic, Playhouse 90, Gunsmoke, Ripcord, West Point and Corde 3. His first significant film role was as Jo Jo Wilson in Bernardine (1957), alongside the heart-throb singing star Pat Boone. Sargent's portrayal of Sanford Wilson, who chasesbut is beaten to a much-sought telephone operator, won him a Laurel Award from US film distributors. More films followed, including Mardi Gras (1958, also with Pat Boone), Operation Petticoat (1959), That Touch of Mink (1962), For Love or Money (1963) and The Ghost and Mr Chicken (1966).

Then, after television appearances in series such as One Happy Family (1961) and Broadside (1964 to 1965) came Sargent's role as Darrin Stevens in Bewitched, which had begun in 1964 with Dick York in the role of a Madison Avenue advertising executive who tries to keep his wife Samantha the witch in domestic chains, with little resistance except from a dragon of a mother-in-law.

York left in 1969, suffering from serious back injury, and Sargent stepped in. By then the comedy was being screened twice daily in the US, with a combined audience of 55 million, and it continued to keep a 35-per-cent share of the entire television audience there for the last three years of its run. Such was its success that it had already inspired other series, such as I Dream of Jeannie, and it has constantly been repeated all over the world ever since the last episode in 1972, although a spin-off, Tabitha (1977), based on the exploits of the couple's daughter, was less successful.

After finishing his run in Bewitched, Sargent appeared on television in Rich Man, Poor Man, Fantasy Island, the pilot of Family Ties, Columbo (playing himself) and Down to Earth, a series that saw him starring with an angel as his maid. His films included Hardcore (1979) and Teen Witch (1989).

Sargent, who revealed on the United States' National Coming Out Day in 1991 that he was homosexual, was a tireless worker for charities such as the Special Olympics, World Hunger, Aids Project Los Angeles and the American Foundation for Aids Research.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

COO / Chief Operating Officer

£80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments