Dick York: Still Magic

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In a critically acclaimed book, Dick York, the original Darrin of Bewitched, reveals intimate details about his hardscrabble childhood, his rise to fame, and his shocking fall from sitcom stardom.

Bewitched is back -- and so is the brilliant, original Darrin.

The first season of the 60s sitcom has just been released on DVD, and a Bewitched movie starring Will Ferrell as Darrin just opened nationwide. Meanwhile, the original Darrin, Dick York, who died in 1992, is earning raves for his posthumously published memoir, The Seesaw Girl and Me.

A little TV history here: In the 1968-69 season, York vanished from Bewitched. The next season, without any explanation, a new Darrin was kissing Samantha. "They replaced Darrin in the original Bewitched," Ferrell says in the movie, "and no one noticed!" In fact, so many people noticed that the Darrin switch has become a pop-culture milestone.

But what really happened to York?

According to his memoir, the Bewitched star was dealing with some very human problems. In the years following Bewitched York battled physical injury and overcame an addiction to prescription pain pills. He spiraled into poverty, gained and lost 150 pounds, and hung on to hopes for a showbiz comeback.

Through all these struggles York kept his youthful spirit, his compassion for others, and the love of his life, Joan "Joey" York, the seesaw girl of the title.

"We had many tough times in our life - a lot of ups, a lot of downs," Mrs. York writes in the book's foreword. "But Dick and I managed to be together and smile through all of them."

The book includes colorful details about York's hardscrabble childhood in Depression-era Chicago, his rise to radio, Broadway, movie and television fame alongside actors such as Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly, Gary Cooper and Elizabeth Montgomery, and his post-Bewitched efforts to regain his health and restart his career.

Stricken with emphysema in 1986, York devoted his final years to a campaign to help the homeless. He died in 1992 at the age of 63.

Written in the late 80s, York's long-awaited book is now available from New Path Press. Reviewers have termed it "funny and lyrical," "unusual and inspiring" and "bittersweet."

"Dick's book is fresh and full of surprising twists, and it rewards readers with laughs and hope," said publisher Claudia Kuehl. "Anybody who has experienced misfortune or disappointment - and who hasn't? - can tap into Dick's energy and optimism."

Publication of the book coincides with Bewitched's fortieth anniversary year and the rise of interest in all things Bewitched.

The 256-page hardcover retails for $25.95 and includes 41 black and white photos. It is available from the online booksellers Amazon.com and Alibris.com and directly from the publisher.

In honor of York, a portion of any profits will be donated to several charities, Kuehl said.

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Claudia Kuehl
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