kids encyclopedia robot

Dick York facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Dick York
Dick York 1965.JPG
Dick York in 1965
Richard Allen York

(1928-09-04)September 4, 1928
Died February 20, 1992(1992-02-20) (aged 63)
Resting place Plainfield Cemetery in Rockford, Michigan, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1943–1970, 1972–1984
Joan Alt
(m. 1951)
Children 5

Richard Allen York (September 4, 1928 – February 20, 1992) was an American radio, stage, film, and television actor. He was the first actor to play Darrin Stephens on the ABC fantasy sitcom Bewitched. He played teacher Bertram Cates in the film Inherit the Wind (1960).

York's career was hampered by a serious back injury he sustained while working on the film They Came to Cordura in 1959; although his role in Bewitched was a success, he left the series in 1969 after a further decline in his physical health, and rarely acted thereafter.

Early life

York was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana to Bernard York, a salesman, and Betty, a seamstress. He grew up in Chicago, where a Catholic nun first recognized his vocal promise. He began his career at the age of 15 as the star of the CBS radio program That Brewster Boy. He also appeared in hundreds of other radio shows and instructional films before heading to New York City, where he acted on Broadway in Tea and Sympathy and Bus Stop. He performed with stars including Paul Muni and Joanne Woodward in live television broadcasts and with Janet Leigh, Jack Lemmon, and Glenn Ford in movies, including My Sister Eileen and Cowboy.

While filming the movie They Came to Cordura (1959) with Gary Cooper and Rita Hayworth, he suffered a permanent, disabling back injury. In York's own words, "Gary Cooper and I were propelling a handcar carrying several 'wounded' men down [the] railroad track. I was on the bottom stroke of this sort of teeter-totter mechanism that made the handcar run. I was just lifting the handle up as the director yelled 'cut!' and one of the 'wounded' cast members reached up and grabbed the handle. Now, instead of lifting the expected weight, I was suddenly, jarringly, lifting his entire weight off the flatbed – 180 pounds or so. The muscles along the right side of my back tore. They just snapped and let loose. And that was the start of it all: the pain, the painkillers, the addiction, the lost career."

York's injury did not immediately end his career. In 1960, a year after York's injury, he played Bertram Cates (modeled on John Thomas Scopes, of "Monkey Trial" fame) in the film version of Inherit the Wind.

York went on to star with Gene Kelly and Leo G. Carroll in the ABC comedy-drama Going My Way (1962). York was cast in the series, which lasted one season, as Tom Colwell, who operates a secular youth center.

York appeared in dozens of episodes of now-classic television series, including Justice, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Untouchables, Rawhide, The Americans, Wagon Train, Father Knows Best, and CBS's The Twilight Zone and Route 66.


Agnes Moorehead Dick York Elizabeth Montgomery Bewitched 1964
York with Bewitched co-stars Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens (front) and Agnes Moorehead as Endora (back)

York was cast as Darrin Stephens in the 1960s sitcom Bewitched as Samantha's (Elizabeth Montgomery) mortal husband. The show was a huge success and York was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1968.

The crew built York a slanted wall on which he could lean between scenes; during the first two seasons, this allowed York to manage his back injury with little difficulty. Halfway through the third season, York's back injury was aggravated into a painful degenerative spine condition, frequently causing shooting delays while he required assistance to walk. Because York would sometimes be seized with debilitating pain, the scripts for some of his later Bewitched episodes were written and staged such that his character would be in bed or on the couch for the entire episode. York did not appear in several third- and fourth-season episodes, and his eventual departure from the show well into the filming of the fifth season necessitated more episodes focusing on Samantha and other members of her family, with mentions that Darrin was away on business.

While filming the fifth-season episode "Daddy Does His Thing," York fell ill: "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 [spotlight] 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."

From York's hospital bed, he and director William Asher discussed York's future. "Do you want to quit?" Asher asked. "If it's all right with you, Billy," York replied. With that, York left the sitcom to devote himself to recovery, never to return. Dick Sargent replaced York in the role of Darrin Stephens, taking over the role at the start of the series' sixth season (1969–1970) and continuing in the part until the series ended after its eighth season (1971–1972). Sargent was originally offered the role of Darrin in 1964, but declined in favor of a part in the short-lived sitcom Broadside.

Later years

For the next 18 months, York was largely bed-ridden in a haze of prescription painkillers. In his memoir, The Seesaw Girl and Me, published posthumously, he describes the struggle to break his addiction and come to grips with the loss of his career. The book is in large part a love letter to his wife, Joan (née Alt), the seesaw girl of the title, who stuck with him through the hard times.

York eventually beat his addiction, and in the early 1980s tried to revive his career. His last two credits were on two primetime television series, Simon & Simon and Fantasy Island.


York was a three-pack-a-day smoker for much of his life and often smoked cigarettes on the set of Bewitched; he spent his final years battling emphysema. By 1989, he was using an oxygen tank to help him breathe. While bedridden in his Rockford, Michigan, home, he founded Acting for Life, a private charity to help the homeless and others in need. Using his telephone as his pulpit, York motivated politicians, business people, and the general public to contribute supplies and money.

Despite his suffering, York said, "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."

York died of complications from emphysema at Blodgett Hospital in East Grand Rapids, Michigan, on February 20, 1992, at age 63. He is buried at Plainfield Cemetery in Rockford, Michigan.


Year Title Role Notes
1945 Insomnia
(Combat Fatigue: Insomnia)
Lucky Uncredited, Short film for U.S. Navy
1947 Shy Guy Philip Norton Short
1949 Rest and Health George Short
1950 Last Date Nick Short, driver's education film. Credited as Richard York
1951 How Friendly Are You? Phil Short
1954 Them! Teen in police station Uncredited
1955 My Sister Eileen Ted 'Wreck' Loomis
1955 Three Stripes in the Sun Corporal Neeby Muhlendorf
1957 Operation Mad Ball Corporal Bohun
1958 Cowboy Charlie, Trailhand
1959 The Last Blitzkrieg Sgt. Ludwig
1959 They Came to Cordura Private Renziehausen
1960 Inherit the Wind Bertram T. Cates
Year Title Role Notes
1955 Goodyear Television Playhouse John Randolph Episode: "Visit to a Small Planet"
1955 The Philco Television Playhouse Andy Episode: "Incident in July"
1955 Justice Episode: "Fatal Payment"
1955–1957 Kraft Television Theatre Episode: "Million Dollar Rookie
Episode: "Mock Trial"
Episode: "Ride into Danger"
1956 Playwrights '56 Grayson Episode: "Honor"
1956 Eye on New York Lt. Mac Hartman Episode: "Night of the Auk"
1956–1958 Studio One George Fox
George Weston
Captain Jay Hellman
Episode: "A Man's World"
Episode: "The Weston Strain"
Episode: "The Enemy Within"
1958 Father Knows Best Tom Wentworth Episode: "Betty, The Pioneer Woman"
1957 The Kaiser Aluminum Hour Edward Gillis Episode: "A Real Fine Cutting Edge"
1957–1963 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Manny Coe
Norman Logan
J.J. Bunce
Ralph Jones
Tom Barton
Herbert J. Wiggam
Episode: "Vicious Circle"
Episode: "The Dusty Drawer"
Episode: "The Blessington Method"
Episode: "The Doubtful Doctor"
Episode: "You Can't Be a Little Girl All Your Life"
Episode: "The Twelve Hour Caper"
1958 The United States Steel Hour Gordon Bates Episode: "Beaver Patrol"
Climax! Gordon Bates Episode: "Shooting for the Moon"
1958–1959 Playhouse 90 Scott Arlen
Matthew Sherwood
Episode: "The Last Clear Chance"
Episode: "The Time of Your Life"
Episode: "Made in Japan"
Episode: "Out of Dust"
1958, 1960 The Millionaire Ken Leighton
Sandy Newell
Episode: "The Ken Leighton Story"
Episode: "Millionaire Sandy Newell"
1960 The Untouchables Ernie Torrance Episode: "The White Slavers"
Alcoa Theatre Corporal James Sloan Episode: "The Glorious Fourth"
Stagecoach West Webb Crawford Episode: "Three Wise Men"
1960–1961 The Twilight Zone Captain Phil Riker
Hector Poole
Episode: "The Purple Testament"
Episode: "A Penny for Your Thoughts"
1961 Naked City Charles Colano Episode: "Bullets Cost Too Much"
The DuPont Show with June Allyson Lt. James Whitney Episode: "School of the Soldier"
The Americans Bolick Episode: "The War Between the States"
General Electric Theater Ashael Miller Episode: "A Musket for Jessica"
Adventures in Paradise Markham Jones Episode: "The Reluctant Hero"
The Outlaws Sam Nichols Episode: "Night Riders"
Dr. Kildare Harry Benton Episode: "The Lonely Ones"
Frontier Circus Jeb Randall Episode: "The Shaggy Kings"
1961, 1963 Rawhide Frank Price
Elwood P. Gilroy
Episode: "Incident of the Broken Word"
Episode: "Incident at Confidence Creek"
1961–1964 Wagon Train Willie Pettigrew
Charley Shutup
Ben Mitchell
Episode: "The Clementine Jones Story"
Episode: "The Charley Shutup Story"
Episode: "The Michael Malone Story"
1962 Thriller Fred Bancroft Episode: "The Incredible Doktor Markesan"
1962–1963 Going My Way Tom Colwell
1963 Insight Episode: "Breakthrough"
Route 66 Lieutenant School Episode: "What a Shining Young Man Was Our Gallant Lieutenant"
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Sheriff Will Pearce Episode: "Terror at Northfield"
The Virginian Jeff Tolliver Episode: "Stopover in a Western Town"
1964–1969 Bewitched Darrin Stephens Main role; 5 seasons
1965 The Flintstones Darrin Stephens Episode: "Samantha"
1983 Simon & Simon Martin Donlevy Episode: "Too Much of a Good Thing"
1984 Fantasy Island Mr. Sutton Episode: "Sweet Life/Games People Play"
2005 Bewitched Darrin Stephens Uncredited, Archive footage

Awards and nominations

Emmy Awards
  • 1968: Nominated, "Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series"- Bewitched

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Dick York para niños

kids search engine
Dick York Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.