Famous Replacement Child – Elizabeth Montgomery

Born on April 15, 1933, the actress Elizabeth Montgomery was the second child of actor Robert Montgomery and Elizabeth Allen. Their first daughter, Martha Bryan, named for her aunt, was born on October 13, 1930 and died at fourteen months as a result of spinal meningitis.

Elizabeth Montgomery

Elizabeth became a successful actress in her own right and is perhaps best known for her TV show, Bewitched. A 1965 magazine article, “Witches are People Too” written by Jackie Thomas, explains how Robert Montgomery was totally devastated by the loss of his first child, suffering from severe depression that crippled him for months. In fact, he never really fully recovered.

Elizabeth had a complex, often difficult relationship with her father, especially in relation to how strict he was in her younger years. Perhaps in part, this was her father’s way of controlling Elizabeth’s life when clearly, he had had no control over what had happened to her sister. His critical attitude toward his daughter continued through the years and eventually gnawed away at Elizabeth’s self-esteem. Perhaps too, Elizabeth believed that she was never able to match Martha in their father’s eyes.

In a recent book about her personal life, Twitch upon a Star, author Herbie J. Pilato reveals that Elizabeth had a “dark side,” looking for the “bad boy,” choosing to be involved with troubled men, some of whom abused her. The conflict with her father is evident—while trying to please him, she also rebelled against him. Elizabeth seemed to have what the author calls a “father complex,” falling in love with older men, some deeply disturbed. Married four times, Elizabeth never seemed to find real happiness. She died of cancer in 1995.

This month’s profile is excerpted with permission from Replacement Children: The Unconscious Script, by Rita Battat and Dr. Abigail Brenner.

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