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Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery Hardcover – November 5, 2012

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  • Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery
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Editorial Reviews


Elizabeth Montgomery's life is beautifully portrayed by author Herbie Pilato in [this] loving new biography. (FrontiersLA)

[A] comprehensive and touching biography of Montgomery's life. . . . Fans of classic television or of well-written biographies should seek this out . . . an insightful read about an amazing woman! (Journeys in Classic Film)

. . . [T]ells you all about Bewitched, the magical 1960s-and-'70s sitcom, and other triumphs enjoyed by the talented and beautiful Montgomery. (Village Voice)

Twitch Upon a Star is an engrossing look at a strong-willed actress whose career spanned five decades. It will satisfy Elizabeth Montgomery's fans, as well as Bewitched buffs interested in learning more about that series' leading lady—and even how the famous twitch was ‘invented.’ (Classic Film and TV Café)

[A] blockbuster new book. (The National Enquirer)

Life's journey is never simple. Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery is a biography from Herbie J. Pilato [in which] he tells the Bewitched star's story . . . forming friendships, romances, enemies, and everything in between. An advocate with her own problems, [Montgomery’s] story is one of [an individual] who tried to make a difference with her stardom. Twitch Upon a Star is a strongly recommended addition to Hollywood and television history biography collections; highly recommended. (Midwest Book Review)

. . . [A] love letter . . . No matter how big your twitch itch, this book will scratch it. (Ventura County Star)

. . . [I]t's like meeting [Elizabeth Montgomery] all over again for the very first time. . . . If you've ever enjoyed an episode of Bewitched, come meet her for yourself. (BookSteve's Library Blog)

This biography covers it all. . . . Fans will love the three sections of photos and Pilato's respectful, yet truthful, portrait of the woman who will forever be remembered for as the beautiful witch Samantha Stephens. (SheKnows Book Lounge)

Twitch Upon a Star is based on Pilato's exclusive interviews prior to Montgomery's 1995 death. . . . The book follows her career before, during, and after Bewitched, and goes behind the scenes chronicling her political activism [and] reveals behind-the-scenes anecdotes about the show and Montgomery's life. (Long Beach Press-Telegram)

Pilato expertly captures the life of [this] wonderful actress. (Daytona News-Journal)

[Pilato is] the master of all things Bewitched. . . . [Twitch Upon a Star is an] amazing new book. (NewNowNext on Logo Online)

Fans of Elizabeth Montgomery and Bewitched will love this book. (Living in the Kitchen with Puppies)

For anyone who only recalls Elizabeth Montgomery from her most memorable role, on the 1960s sitcom Bewitched, this thoroughly researched, extensively detailed, and wholly fascinating biography will load you up with everything you’ve been missing. It’s a delicious, detailed look at her life and remarkable career before, during and after that magical, life-changing show; her crusading and often controversial activism for the causes close to her heart; her often turbulent relationship with her father, actor Robert Montgomery; her rocky marital history; and the many other facets of the woman who played Samantha Stephens, TV’s ‘witch with the twitch’ at the end of her nose. (American Profile)

Herbie J Pilato, a long-time fan and later friend of the actress uses his extensive interviews with the actress, plus meticulous research to get to the bottom of what the real Elizabeth Montgomery was like. (Soap World Magazine)

Herbie J Pilato reveals the real Elizabeth Montgomery in Twitch Upon a Star. Her loves, her demons and even her politics are explored in this new biography of one of television’s favorite stars. (

The research that went into this book is amazing. . . . We get the essence and life of Elizabeth Montgomery by embarking on a journey ‘into the loves, politics, and performances of this multi-talented actor—a very magical journey, yet based in the real emotion of love.' (Reviews by Amos Lassen)

Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery is based on the author's exclusive interviews with Montgomery before her death in 1995, and includes new, never-before-published material and commentary from many associated with her life and career before, during and after Bewitched. Any with an interest in the show or Montgomery will find this a definitive exploration that ranges from insights on her career to revelations about her personal life and relationships. The result is a lively read indeed, recommended for film and biography holdings in general and especially for any reader with prior affection for Bewitched. (Midwest Book Review)

Twitch Upon a Star is as perfect a book could be. . . . [It] shines bright at a rating of 5 Stars (out of five). I read it twice. Afterwards I watched re-runs of Bewitched—knowing what I learned from Twitch Upon a Star—and what stirred me most were the questions that came to mind which I feel Twitch Upon a Star answered. Twitch Upon a Star is as no other book. . . . For me, a person who thinks he’s read the best of the best books, [this] put a twinkle in my eyes [from] Herbie J Pilato’s mastery of the craft of writing. (Salvador SeBasco, book critic; host of The Inside View Show)

Heavily researched, expertly executed, and handled with reverence, Twitch Upon A Star is a magical revelation about one of the most popular and endearing performers of all time. It's clear that Herbie J Pilato not only knows what he's talking about, but that he also cares very deeply about his subject, from a personal, yet objective perspective. . . . No two ways about it, this book is a class act about a classic actress. (Danny Gold, film and television producer)

I encourage everyone to read Pilato's astounding, loving, riveting, eye-opening book. (Lydia Cornell, star of classic TV's Too Close for Comfort, comedienne, and women and children's advocate)

The way Herbie J Pilato tells it, Elizabeth Montgomery just didn't have guts, she had balls. She was kind to those she felt deserved it but had no qualms about setting others straight. Who'd'a thunk that sweet little Samantha had such chutzpah? (Larry Brody, veteran TV writer and producer (Baretta, Diagnosis: Murder, The Fall Guy, and more))

Not only has Bewitched’s Samantha Stephens influenced hundreds of female TV characters and the actresses who portrayed them, but Elizabeth Montgomery’s lasting influence on Hollywood and society has been far greater than the TV series that made her a legend. Herbie J Pilato, one of the great students of classic TV, spins a compelling narrative that brings to life a magical TV series and its even more magical star. It’s a true Hollywood story, and more than any book I’ve read Twitch Upon a Star goes behind-the-scenes to capture a fascinating period in history when television was coming of age. (Jack Myers, media ecologist, author, and producer)

Intricately revealing, well written, and hard to put down, Herbie J Pilato’s Twitch Upon a Star captures the essence and life of Elizabeth Montgomery. He leads readers on an intriguing journey into the loves, politics, and performances of this multi-talented actor—a very magical journey, yet based in the real emotion of love. I heartily recommend this well-rounded read for fans, friends and all who value the life of a gifted, complex and bewitching woman. (Kathy Garver, film, TV, and stage star (Cissy on the classic Family Affair TV series); author, The Family Affair Cookbook and Surviving Cissy; and speaker)

Much more than just a celebrity biography Twitch Upon a Star relays a spiritual quest that can speak to anyone. Retelling the story and work of a life can activate an awareness of the beauty and purpose in our own unfoldment. Pilato accomplishes this masterfully and magically, uncovering such depth and absorbing reflection with authenticity and vigorous charm to reveal Elizabeth Montgomery's journey as a true cultural treasure. This book is magnificent! (Thomas Warfield, performing artist and founder of PeaceArt International)

Twitch Upon a Star is ASTOUNDING. Herbie J Pilato does a wonderful job of mixing hard info with his personal relationship with Elizabeth Montgomery. His approach makes the book very unique. This is one of the best biographies I've read in years. It is a real classic . . . a brilliant work! (Rick Lertzman, media historian and author of Codename: Dr. Feelgood)

Wonderful book and terrific author . . . (Shannon Devereaux Sanford, Shannon's Corner, WTBQ radio)

If you love Liz, you’ll adore this book. Pilato’s biography of everyone’s favorite witch is incredibly detailed. He draws from many sources, including Montgomery’s friends and his own interviews with the star. . . .The book also contains wonderful photos that chronicle Montgomery's life. Getting to know this remarkable woman, you’ll love her for far more than just her dramatic and comedic talents. (Pop Culture Classics)

About the Author

Herbie J Pilato is a writer, producer, actor, songwriter, and entertainment executive. The author of several media tie-in books (including Glamour, Gidgets, and the Girl Next Door, NBC & Me, The Bionic Book, and many more), Pilato has also produced for the A&E, Bravo, TLC, Syfy, and TV Guide channels, as well as Sony, Warner Bros., NBC Universal, and other television networks and film studios. He now has several TV shows, books, and films in development and resides in Burbank, California, where he established Television, Ink. (a production company geared toward family entertainment) and The Classic TV Preservation Society (a nonprofit organization that seeks to close the gap between popular culture and education).

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing (November 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589797493
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589797499
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 55 people found the following review helpful By IrishRose on March 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Despite the author's apparent devotion to his subject, the book is awful. Grammatical errors abound. The text is riddled with parentheticals, most of which are irrelevant and/or insultingly insipid. That said, not even a good editor could have saved this book. For all of its good intentions, there is very little of interest. Aside from "revelations" derived from a few interviews between the author and Ms. Montgomery, the bulk of the book is a rehash of interview and fan-magazine snip-its -- and a fair amount of speculation and innuendo. These bits and pieces are told and retold over and over to come up with 400 pages of text.
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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Douglas R. Brown on March 8, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Boy, did I try to like this book, but I finally had to abandon it. With all the gushing adoration Herbie provides, he does not do his wonderful subject justice. At times I wondered if he was paid by the word, as he keep restating information over and over again. Mr. Pilato does a horrible job of helping us understand Ms. Montgomery, rather focusing on puns and thin treads of information to create dramatic connections. He relies very heavily on quotes from magazine interviews that were fluff themselves, to provide deep knowledge into Ms. Montgomery. Though he does an adequate job discussing his subjects work on 'Bewitched', he does not give enough focus to some of Ms. Montgomery's other Emmy-nominated work, such as 'A Case of Rape' and 'The Legend of Lizzie Bordon'. Even the photo he uses for 'Rape' is tame, not at all providing the departure Ms. Montgomery took in character. If you a looking for an excellent in depth exploration of an iconic celebrity, read 'Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter' by Randy L. Schmidt.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Gary Sheehan on April 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The story is very difficult to follow as the writer jumps from childhood to present in the same sentence make continuity an issue throughout the entire book. It is very hard to follow the author's train of thought. A heavier editorial hand should have corrected these issues. It is a shame as Elizabeth Montgomery was a great actress who was highly underrated and she deserves a better biography than this.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By tarponrn on April 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is EXCRUTIATINGLY repetitive and very difficult to follow. Each chapter begins with a certain time-period and bounces back and forth between the 60s, the 90s, the 70s and back again. We get it; she had a difficult relationship with her father. You don't have to repeat that in every paragraph. I understand the author was a "super-fan", but clearly he did not have enough material for an entire book. He was adept at reminding us each time a quoted source was mentioned of their screen achievements, how they met Miss Montgomery and how their friendship went astray. Each time! I have never found a book more frustrating or confusing to get through. Don't waste your money on this "biography". You'll be disappointed.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
There is some interesting material here but I have to agree with previous reviewers: the book is in DIRE need of a good editor. The writing style is atrocious, and there's no structure to the work. The same material is repeated over and over, and there's way too much padding;for example a long passage about Ed Asner's childhood.
Other irritants include a bizarre tendency to hyphenate incorrectly (Agnes Moore-head) and a myriad of small errors that should have been caught and corrected. One example, Pilato refers Montgomery's 1933 birth throughout the book but writes "On April 15, 1989, Lizzie's fifty-ninth birthday..." A minor error but symptomatic of the problems with this work.
The book is so poorly written and edited- if it was edited at all- that it actually gave me a headache.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jungle Red on March 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was excited when I saw this book available for pre-order. I'm a big Elizabeth Montgomery fan and was looking forward to a comprehensive biography about her. Unfortunately, this biography fell short of my expectations. While the author, Herbie J. Pilato, seemingly did his homework about the subject (and interviewed Montgomery at length for his Bewitched book), the information is not presented clearly and there is too much trivial content.

First, like others have said, the prose skips around in chronology. Even if you have a bit of knowledge about the subject going in, it is odd to read content about Montgomery's mother dying followed by pages detailing her short lived acting career and marriage to Montgomery's father. This skipping around becomes confusing when the author begins talking about Montgomery's marriages (of which there were four). I don't know if the author was attempting to be unconventional by not presenting the information in some sort of logical order but this approach made for a terribly uneven and, at times, very confusing read.

There's also loads of trivial bits sprinkled throughout the book. While this is somewhat tolerable in a book about say, a television show where that kind of trivia is typically welcome, it is unneeded and distracting in a biography. For instance, do readers really need to know where one of Montgomery's co-stars was born or the actual birth dates of the twin child actors who portrayed Tabitha and Adam on Bewitched? Do we really need to know how the producers came up with Endora's name or that Pandora Spocks (the name Montgomery used when she played Serena on Bewitched) was a play on words for Pandora's Box which is also explained to us?
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