Skip to comments.How 'Bewitched' Helped Salem Embrace Its Grim Past
Posted on 03/31/2016 6:11:46 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
How did Salem, Massachusetts become a Halloween destination? For centuries, the New England town avoided any association with its infamous Puritan ancestors, who executed 19 people under suspicion of practicing witchcraft. The surprising answer, author Stacy Schiff writes for The New York Times, has a lot to do with the sitcom "Bewitched."
These days, Salem is rife with kitschy witches and Halloween attractions. But before the late 20th century, town citizens rarely acknowledged the Puritan trials. When playwright Arthur Miller visited Salem to research "The Crucible" in 1952, locals refused to help him. "You couldn't get anyone to say anything about it," he complained, according to "Salem: Place, Myth, and Memory."
Until "Bewitched," that is. In 1970, the popular sitcom filmed episodes on location in Salem, including one where Samantha Stephens, the titular sorceress, travels back in time and is put on trial. Schiff writes:
Accused of witchcraft in old Salem, she winds up manacled, on trial for her life. She admits to the charge. But she announces to the courtroom that she will also prove that no 17th-century suspect was a witch [...] "How can you imprison someone who can vanish before your very eyes?" she demands. Firmly she sets our Puritan forebears straight: "The people that you persecuted were guiltless. They were mortals, just like yourselves. You are the guilty," she informs the old Salemites, before she vanishes, at long last clearing the air.
After "Bewitched," Salem began to embrace a tourist-friendly version of its grim past. The town began hosting an annual Haunted Happenings festival in 1982, which quickly exploded into a month-long Halloween celebration. In 2005, a statue of Elizabeth Montgomery, the actress who played Samantha, was erected in Salem's town square. Today, even the city's police cars are decorated with witch insignia.
(Excerpt) Read more at smithsonianmag.com ...
A couple was golfing one day on a very exclusive golf course, lined with million dollar homes.
On the third tee, the husband said, “Honey be very careful when you drive the ball. Don’t knock out any windows, it will cost a fortune to fix.”
The wife teed off and shanked it right through the window off the biggest house on the course.
The husband cringed and said, “I told you to watch out for the houses. Lets go apologize, and see how much this is going to cost.”
They walked up, knocked on the door, and heard a voice say, “Come in.”
They opened the door and saw glass all over the floor and broken bottle lying on its side in the foyer. A man sitting on the couch and rubbing a lump on his head said, “Are you the people that broke that window?”
“Yes, sorry about that,” the husband replied.
“No actually I want to thank you. I’m a genie that was trapped for a thousand years in that bottle. You released me. I’m allowed to grant three wishes. I’ll give you each one wish and keep one for myself.”
“OK, great!” the husband said. “I want a million dollars a year for life.”
“No problem, its the least I could do. And you, what do you want?” the genie said, looking at the wife.
“I want a house in every country in the world,” said the wife.
“Consider it done,” the genie replied.
“And what is your wish, genie?” the husband asked.
“Well since I have been trapped in that bottle, I haven’t had sex with a woman in a thousand years. My wish is to sleep with your wife.”
The husband looked at the wife and said, “Well we did get a lot of money, and all those houses, honey. I guess I don’t care.” It was OK with the wife too.
The genie took the wife upstairs and ravished her for two hours. After it was over the, the genie rolled over, looked at the wife and asked, “How old are you and your husband?”
“He’s 35 and I’m 33,” she replied.
“And you both believe in genies? That’s amazing....”
Yes, as some of you suspected, more than one of my relatives was executed, even though only one of them was probably guilty. ;')
a search turned up no hits on the Samantha story (which also included this link), even though it was from October.
Unraveling the Many Mysteries of Tituba, the Star Witness of the Salem Witch Trials
hmmm.....I can remember going to Salem on an overnight class trip in the mid to late 1960’s. They seemed open to tourism then since they had tours through the town and gift shops, etc..
I visited during Halloween month a few years back to see my son who was participating in a recreation of the trials. Although fascinating history, certain store owners and visitors gave me the creeps so much I wanted to leave as fast as I could. I felt a deep repulsion in my soul. I know that sounds strange and I have rarely felt that way in other places.
They probably didn't like Arthur Miller, or were big Marilyn Monroe fans, or maybe they didn't want themselves dragged through the mud via guilt-by-association. A generation after the infamous trials, the town repudiated the verdicts and posthumously exonerated all of the victims.
I was there a couple of times in the 60s and remember “Spell” shops and witch themed attractions.
Of course, Salem Massachusetts was the home of Parker Brothers, the Ouija board manufacturer.
Elizabeth Montgomery (Find-a-Grave)
Dick York (buried about 15 miles from here)
I saw the episode when it originally aired. I was a squirt and it was a two parter. All I remember was she lost her powers and pulled out a ball point pen. But the episode was a big deal at the time, after three seasons of Darrin getting embarrassed by his mother in law’s spell at the big Larry Tate presentation.
I know what you mean. Certain places leave that kind of impression. I had it once in Portland, LOL.
“maybe they didn’t want themselves dragged through the mud via guilt-by-association.”
That’s certainly understandable. But it doesn’t explain the article making it sound as though they didn’t open to tourism until the 1970’s. I’m sure it became an even bigger attraction after Bewitched, but to say “After “Bewitched,” Salem began to embrace a tourist-friendly version of its grim past.” just doesn’t seem accurate to me, especially coming from Smithsonian.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they get letters from readers who also visited there before the 1970’s
Maybe they ramped it up in the 70s but it was definitely a money making proposition of sorts in the 60s.
“Maybe they ramped it up in the 70s but it was definitely a money making proposition of sorts in the 60s.”
Probably due to the Crucible
Got ramped up when they found there was big money to be made, not just from a few cutesy T shirts and such.
The whole month of Oct. is a madhouse with busloads of tourists coming in, some of the family variety as well as booze swilling college students etc Plays, historical tours, museums, souvenir shops, and those who embrace “Wicca”.
“Stop by for a spell”
Laurie Cabot was proclaimed official witch of Salem
by then governor Michael Dukakis
If I recall that episode of Bewitched correctly, there’s a scene in which you can see a police car sporting the witch on a broomstick insignia on its door.
:’) Liz M loved political soapboxing in later roles, it’s easy to forget that she did a lot of that on Bewitched. My favorite of her time-travel episodes (in fact, the only one I remember at all) was the one where she almost wound up one of Henry VIII’s brides.
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