Former "Bewitched' star Dick Sargent dies

Published July 9, 1994|Updated Oct. 7, 2005

Dick Sargent, who played the beleaguered husband on the television series Bewitched and who later declared his homosexuality, died Friday. He was 64.

Sargent died of prostate cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was admitted on Wednesday, hospital spokesman Ron Wise said.

The actor was diagnosed with prostate cancer 4{ years ago and doctors were initially optimistic he could be treated successfully because it was found early.

But in a television interview in March, a frail-looking Sargent said the disease had spread.

"I don't know how much longer I have and nobody can seem to predict it, he told Entertainment Tonight.

In 1991, on National Coming Out Day, Sargent announced he was gay. The high rate of suicide among young homosexuals was the main reason, he said, jokingly referring to himself as a "retroactive role model."

Sargent recognized that his ill health may have led people to assume he had AIDS.

"I don't have AIDS," he said. "I am HIV-negative. But if I did I would wear that badge as proudly as everybody else who has it."

Sargent was best known for his 1969-72 Bewitched role of advertising executive Darrin Stephens, a mortal coping with marriage to a charming witch, Samantha, played by Elizabeth Montgomery.

His predecessor as Darrin, from 1964-69, was Dick York, who died in February 1992 at age 63 of emphysema and a degenerative spinal condition.

Sargent was born Richard Cox in Carmel, Calif., on April 19, 1930, the child of parents with show business ties. His mother, Ruth McNaughton, was a supporting actress in Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and other movies. His father, Elmer Cox, was a business manager for clients including Douglas Fairbanks.

As a Stanford University student, Sargent appeared in more than two dozen plays with the Stanford Players Theater.

After graduating, he won a bit part in the 1954 film Prisoner of War with Ronald Reagan, and appeared in the films Bernardine and A Touch of Mink, starring Cary Grant.

On television, Sargent had roles in Gunsmoke, Playhouse 90 and Family Ties. He appeared in four made-for-television movies and was a regular in five series, including the 1961 sitcom One Happy Family.

Sargent did charitable work for the Special Olympics, World Hunger, AIDS Project Los Angeles and the American Foundation for AIDS Research.