Birthday: September 4, 1928
Died At Age: 63
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Richard Allen York
Born in: Fort Wayne, Indiana, United States
Famous as: Actor
Height: 6'1" (185 cm), 6'1" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Joan Alt
father: Bernard York
children: Christopher York, Kim York, Mandy York, Matthew York, Stacy York
Died on: February 20, 1992
City: Fort Wayne, Indiana
U.S. State: Indiana
Who was Dick York?
Richard Allen "Dick" York was an American actor known for being the first Darrin Stephens in the ABC fantasy sitcom ‘Bewitched’. He also garnered widespread popularity for portraying teacher Bertram Cates in the film ‘Inherit the Wind’. An Indiana native, York was raised in Chicago and started performing on the CBS radio program ‘That Brewster Boy’ when he was 15 years old. He later relocated to New York City and began appearing in Broadway plays. York made his screen debut in 1945 in the short film ‘Insomnia’. He subsequently appeared in a series of other short films before debuting on television with ‘Omnibus’ in 1953. A year later, his first cinematic appearance occurred in the horror science fiction ‘Them!’. Between 1955 and 1957, he played the recurring role of Deputy Sheriff in ‘Kraft Theatre’. Dick York also garnered some recognition for his multiple appearances on TV seies ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’. He essayed the role of Darrin Stephens in ‘Bewitched’ from 1964 and 1969 and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for the Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series in 1968.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on September 4, 1928, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA, Dick York was the son of Betty and Bernard York. His mother was a seamstress, while his father worked as a salesman.
At some point after his birth, his family moved to Chicago, Illinois, where York grew up. It was a Catholic nun in Chicago who first recognized York’s vocal talent.
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When he was 15 years old, Dick York began performing on CBS radio program ‘That Brewster Boy’. He was also featured in over hundreds of other radio programs and instructional films before moving to New York City. Two of his earliest Broadway plays were ‘Tea and Sympathy’ and ‘Bus Stop’.
In 1945, Dick York debuted on the small screen in the short film ‘Insomnia’. In the next few years, he appeared in several other short films before making a guest appearance in a 1953 episode of ‘Omnibus’.
In 1954, he made his big-screen debut in ‘Them!’. York also played various roles in films like ‘My Sister Eileen’ (1955), ‘Three Stripes in the Sun’ (1955), and ‘Operation Mad Ball’ (1957).
During the filming of his 1959 movie ‘They Came to Cordura’, Dick York sustained a permanently disabling back injury. It did not initially put an end to his career. He continued to act as the pain was manageable. In 1960, a year after he suffered the injury, he portrayed Bertram Cates in the cinematic rendition of ‘Inherit the Wind’.
Between 1957 and 1962, he portrayed six different characters in that many episodes of ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’. The ABC fantasy sitcom ‘Bewitched’ was the most successful outing of his career. In the first two seasons of the show, the pain was tolerable. However, by the third season, it had become excruciating. Dick York was forced to quit the show after the fifth season, and he was replaced by Dick Sargent from season six onwards.
After leaving ‘Bewitched’, Dick York spent the next 18 months bed-ridden. He developed an addiction to prescription painkillers. In his memoir, ‘The Seesaw Girl and Me’, published in 2004 through New Path Press, York wrote about his struggles with pain and addiction and described how he finally accepted the loss of his career. “The Seesaw Girl” of the title was his wife, Joan, who stayed with him through the tough times.
From 1962 to 1963, York portrayed Tom Colwell, who runs the secular youth centre in the neighbourhood, in the ABC comedy-drama series ‘Going My Way’.
Dick York was cast as Darrin Stephens, the mortal husband of Elizabeth Montgomery's Samantha Stephens in ‘Bewitched’. His performance in the show earned him an Emmy nomination in 1968. He was part of the cast from 1964 to 1969 before leaving the show due to his back pain.
Family & Personal Life
Dick York met fellow radio performer Joan Alt while he was acting in the radio program ‘Jack Armstrong, All-American Boy’. She had arrived to perform in a radio commercial. The couple exchanged wedding vows on November 17, 1951, and had five children together: daughters Kim, Mandy, and Stacy, and sons Matthew and Christopher.
Death & Legacy
A chain smoker, Dick York was forced to combat emphysema in the later part of his life. By 1989, he had been making use of an oxygen tank to breath. On February 20, 1992, York passed away due to complications related to emphysema at Blodgett Hospital in East Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was 63 years old at the time. He is interred in Plainfield Cemetery in Rockford, Michigan.
Despite being bedridden in his Rockford, Michigan home, York set up Acting for Life, a charity initiative that supports the homeless and others in need. Reaching out to politicians, business people, and the general public through his phone, he convinced them to donate money and food to the cause.