Dick York

Active - 1955 - 1969  |   Born - Sep 4, 1928 in Fort Wayne, IN  |   Died - Feb 20, 1992 in Grand Rapids, MI  |   Genres - Comedy

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Actor Dick York started out as a child performer on radio, playing important roles in such airwaves favorites as Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy. In the early '50s, York began showing up in New York-based instructional films, including a now-infamous reel about proper dating etiquette. Establishing himself as one of Broadway's most versatile young character actors, he was seen in such major productions as Tea and Sympathy, Bus Stop, and Night of the Auk. In films from 1955, York's most famous movie role was schoolteacher Bertram Cates in Inherit the Wind, the 1960 dramatization of the Scopes Monkey Trial. Though a prolific TV guest star, he didn't settle down on a weekly series until 1962, when he co-starred with Gene Kelly and Leo G. Carroll in a short-lived video adaptation of Going My Way. Two years later, he landed his signature role: Darren Stephens, the eternally flustered husband of glamorous witch Samantha Stephens (Elizabeth Montgomery), in Bewitched. He remained with the series until 1969, when a recurring back ailment (the legacy of an on-set injury suffered while filming the 1959 feature They Came to Cordura) forced York to relinquish the role of Darren to Dick Sargent. Though he was for all intents and purposes retired from acting, York remained active on behalf of several pro-social causes. He was the founder of Acting for Life, an organization designed to help the homeless help themselves. Living a spartan existence in Grand Rapids, MI, an increasingly infirm Dick York tirelessly continued giving of himself for the benefit of others until his death from emphysema in 1992.

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Factsheet

  • Professional career began on radio shows in Chicago as a teen (when he met his future wife, Joan), including The Brewster Boy and Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy; and in educational short films for adolescents that covered subjects such as dating etiquette and safe driving.
  • In 1950, moved to New York, where he got a break with a part in the 1953 Broadway premiere of Robert Anderson's Tea and Sympathy, directed by Elia Kazan. 
  • Known for playing Darrin Stephens, wife of Samantha, on the series Bewitched from 1964 to '69; was forced to leave the show due to a debilitating back injury he suffered while filming the 1959 western They Came to Cordura; was replaced on the sitcom by Dick Sargent.
  • Although bedridden and broke late in life due to emphysema and back problems, he was a fund-raiser for Acting for Life, a charity he founded in the late 1980s to help the homeless.
  • Author of a posthumously published autobiography, The Seesaw Girl and Me: A Memoir; the "Seesaw Girl" of the book's title referred to his wife, whom he called "Joey."