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Dick York Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (28) | Personal Quotes (8)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 4 September 1928Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA
Date of Death 20 February 1992Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA  (emphysema)
Birth NameRichard Allen York
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (1)

The gangly York is best remembered as the first and most frustrated "Darrin Stephens" on the long-running TV series Bewitched (1964). He left the series in 1969 due to a chronic back ailment. He later founded Acting for Life, a private fund-raising effort for the homeless, which he managed from his home where he was bedridden with a degenerative spine injury.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ray Hamel

Spouse (1)

Joan Alt (17 November 1951 - 20 February 1992) (his death) (5 children)

Trade Mark (2)

The role of Darrin Stephens #1 on Bewitched (1964).
High-pitched, exasperated voice.

Trivia (28)

York first injured his back while working on the 1959 film They Came to Cordura (1959).
At the age of 15, York was the star of the network radio program "That Brewster Boy"
Buried at Plainfield Cemetery, Rockford, Kent County, Michigan.
Moved to Michigan in the mid-80s to care for his wife's ill mother, and was diagnosed with emphysema shortly after.
Was left impoverished in 1976 after a real estate investment failed, and was on welfare for a time.
Started a charity called "Acting for Life". He spent most of his time on the telephone raising money for the homeless and getting people to donate food and clothing.
He and his family suffered during the depression from starvation and loss of money. York said that what had inspired him to start his charity Acting for Life which helped the homeless.
Special furniture was used on the set of Bewitched (1964) for him due to his back problems. Other cast and crew members also helped him get around on the set. He had to leave the show when he suddenly collapsed one day on the set in 1969.
Best remembered by the public for his co-starring role as Darrin Stephens in Bewitched (1964).
Appeared six times on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955) TV series, but never met the famed director in person.
Director Stanley Kramer allowed Dick to write his first scene in the movie Inherit the Wind (1960), in which his character, educator Bertram Cates, goes on trial for teaching his students Darwin's theory of evolution. This was his last film role. He subsequently concentrated on TV.
During the filming of They Came to Cordura (1959), Dick was seriously injured during a railroad hand car scene. He and Gary Cooper were propelling a hand car down a railroad track with other men when he accidentally lifted the mechanism without his comrades help and wrenched his back, tearing the muscles along the right side of his back. For him it was the beginning of the end. He grew addicted to painkillers and struggled valiantly another decade before retiring in 1969.
Appeared in three films with Jack Lemmon: My Sister Eileen (1955), Operation Mad Ball (1957) and Cowboy (1958).
First work on Broadway was a supporting role in "Tea and Sympathy" starring John Kerr and Deborah Kerr. The play opened on September 30, 1953. His success in this play led to a contract with Columbia Pictures.
Moved to New York in 1951 and took a room at a YMCA. He eventually became a working NY radio actor on a number of series.
Met future wife Joan Alt while doing radio's "Jack Armstrong, All-American Boy". Joan came in to do a commercial on the show.
Was enrolled in The Jack and Jill Players, a children's acting school, in Chicago. This training led to his first professional break with a two-year stretch as "That Brewster Boy" on radio during WWII while a teenager. "That Brewster Boy" was inspired by the success of "The Aldrich Family". He then went on to join the radio series "Jack Armstrong, All-American Boy" playing Billy Fairchild, Jack's friend, for six years (until 1951).
Was first influenced to become an actor when he saw the Cecil B. DeMille film The Crusades (1935).
His father Bernard was a salesman. His mother worked as a seamstress and later operated a beauty shop. The family moved from Indiana to Chicago when he was ten.
His very revealing autobiography is entitled "The Seesaw Girl and Me".
Developed emphysema after years of smoking three packs of cigarettes a day, and became dependent on oxygen tanks in his last years. Died of complications from emphysema at a Grand Rapids, Michigan hospital.
He and his family moved to Rockford, Michigan in the 1980s to care for his wife's ailing mother. When she died they stayed on in her house.
Made a brief comeback on TV in the 1970s in episodes of "Fantasy Island" and "Simon and Simon".
Was nominated for Best Actor in a Comedy Series during the fourth season of Bewitched (1964). Lost to "Get Smart's Don Adams.
Dick's five children: Kim, Mandy, Stacy, Christopher and Matthew.
Despite their antagonistic roles on the Bewitched (1964) as Darrin and Endora, York grew quite close to actress Agnes Moorehead off camera.
The Bewitched (1964) TV comedy series was originally a vehicle for Broadway star Tammy Grimes as the lovely witch Samantha. She had recently scored in the Broadway musical comedy "High Spirits," based on the Noël Coward play "Blithe Spirit," in which she played the deceased Elvira who comes back to haunt her former husband. Dick Sargent was chosen to play her mortal mate Darrin Stephens. When Grimes passed on the series, Elizabeth Montgomery was cast in the role. By that time, Sargent had other acting commitments and was forced to bow out of the pilot. York came into the picture after Richard Crenna of "The Real McCoys" fame turned the role down. Of course, Sargent wound up replacing York as Darrin in 1969 after York suffered a seizure on the set and was rushed to the hospital. He never returned to the show and the "second Darrin Stephens" never explained.
When Dick Sargent took over the role of Darrin Stephens for Bewitched (1964), York, who left the show, at the end of the fifth season, didn't mind him playing the role.

Personal Quotes (8)

You know, three whales get in trouble and people from all over volunteer to help. Wouldn't it be wonderful if one old has-been actor with a hose up his nose could help millions?
I have done more in this chair here than I could have ever done in Hollywood.
I don't work because I love it. In our household, work is something Daddy does to provide us with things we need for our physical comforts . . . I love other things more than my work.
[Of his seizure that caused him to end his best-known role on Bewitched (1964)]: I was too sick to go on. I had a temperature of 105, full of strong antibiotics, for almost 10 days. I went to work that day but I was sick. I lay in my dressing room after being in make-up, waiting to be called on the set. They knew I was feeling pretty rotten, and they tried to give me time to rest. I kept having chills. This was the middle of the summer and I was wearing a sheepskin jacket and I was chilling. I was shaking all over. Then, while sitting on a scaffolding with Maurice Evans, being lit for a special effects scene: They were setting an inky - that's a little tiny spot[light] that was supposed to be just flickering over my eyes. That flickering, flickering flickering made me feel weird. And I'm sitting on this platform up in the air...and I turned to Gibby, who was just down below, and I said, 'Gibby, I think I have to get down.' He started to help me down and that's the last thing I remember until I woke up on the floor. That's about all I remember of the incident...and I'd managed to bite a very large hole in the side of my tongue before they could pry my teeth apart.
[Just before his death]: I am happy, complete. I know that you've known me a very longtime, I've been on television, I've been in your living rooms and now I'm in your heart!
I've been blessed. I have no complaints. I've been surrounded by people in radio, on stage and in motion pictures and television who love me. The things that have gone wrong have been simply physical things.
There are no rewards for what you do -- you do it because you have to. It's your nature as a human being. You have to... That's how I feel about it.
[About the hard part of returning to acting] I did not want to go back into acting so much that I let myself get fat. I gained 126 pounds -- a whole other person. I grew a beard -- I was disguising myself. Things got totally out of hand, and all the ego trips and insecurities there are to deal with. In my whole career, there had been only four things that gave me complete artistic satisfaction: Inherit The Wind with Stanley Kramer directing; working with Elia Kazan in Bus Stop on Broadway; a play I did on Playhouse 90 with Paul Muni; and an episode of Route 66.

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