His father was a World War I flying ace, and his mother was a silent film actress. His name was Richard Cox until he changed it to Dick Sargent, fearing that casting directors of the 1950s would assume he was trying to capitalize on the success of then-hot TV star Wally Cox. In films since 1957's Bernardine, Sargent was also a regular on several one-season-wonder TV series of the '60s; his oddest gig was on the very short-lived The Tammy Grimes Show (1966), playing the star's twin brother. Sargent's latter-day fame rests with his five-season (1969-73) tenure as the "second Darrin Stevens" on the weekly sitcom Bewitched. "I don't know why (Dick York) quit the show" commented Sargent at the time he succeeded York as Darrin. "I just thank God that he did." At the peak of his popularity, Sargent listed a failed first marriage on his studio biography. This, however, was a subterfuge, calculated to keep the actor's homosexuality a secret. Many years after the cancellation of Bewitched, Sargent became incensed at California governor Pete Wilson's veto of a gay-rights bill. At this point, the actor deliberately put his career on the line by making public his own sexual orientation. Thus, Sargent was one of the first major Hollywood actors to voluntarily come out of the closet without the spectre of AIDS hanging over him. Dick Sargent died of prostate cancer at the reported age of 61.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- His mother was a silent film actor, and his father was a World War I veteran and Hollywood business manager (whose clients included Douglas Fairbanks).
- While struggling to begin a career as an actor, he held a number of odd jobs, including digging ditches and doing a stint with an import-export company in Mexico.
- The original choice to play Darrin Stephens on Bewitched, he ultimately took over the role in 1969 when Dick York was forced to leave the sitcom for health reasons.
- To explain his unmarried status early in his career, he claimed to be a divorcé in studio biographies, but eventually went public as a gay man on National Coming Out Day in 1991.
- In 1992, he shared Grand Marshal duties with friend and former Bewitched costar Elizabeth Montgomery for a gay-pride parade in Los Angeles.
- Charitable pursuits included the Special Olympics and the American Foundation for AIDS Research.
- Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1989, to which he succumbed on July 8, 1994.