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That Time Bewitched's Elizabeth Montgomery Played An Axe Murderer

Entertainment | December 18, 2017

Elizabeth Montgomery as Lizzie Borden. Source: IMDB

In 1975, Elizabeth Montgomery of Bewitched fame starred in The Legend of Lizzie Borden, a historical mystery made-for-TV movie on ABC. The program chronicled the Borden murders of 1892, with the star of Bewitched playing Lizzie Borden. Ironically, it has been reported that the real Lizzie Borden and Elizabeth Montgomery were actually distant relatives. The research was compliments of genealogist, Rhonda McClure, who had done extensive research on the family connection. Katherine Helmond, later famous for Soap and Who's the Boss?, played Emma Borden.

The film included scenes of Lizzie being in prison as the only suspect for the crime. During the trial, the scandalous -- and unverified -- story emerged that she committed the murders in the nude and meticulously bathed after each murder. This story explained why she never had any blood found on her.

Lizzie Borden was a real person, born in 1860 in Fall River, Massachusetts. Soon after her mother died, her father, a wealthy and successful businessman remarried. Lizzie and her sister, Emma, reportedly weren’t huge fans of their new mother and would only address her as, "Mrs. Borden." When Lizzie was in her early 30’s, her father and step-mother were found brutally murdered, with an axe, in their home.

Even now, although it is not impossible, it is not very often that you hear of a woman committing a brutal murder. For some reason, those crimes are mostly committed by men. Well back in Lizzie Borden’s day, it was no different.

FALL RIVER, MA - MAY 19: A portrait of Lizzie Borden hangs on a wall at the Lizzie Borden house in Fall River, which is now a bed and breakfast. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The Borden Family consisted of father, stepmother and two daughters. There was also a maid who was frequently in the house.

Lizzie and the maid were the only ones reportedly on the property -- other than the victims -- when the murders occurred. Ultimately, Lizzie was accused of murdering her parents. Curiously, she was the only one ever suspected. She was later found not guilty after a trial, but carried the stigma of the brutality for the rest of her life.

When asked, point-blank, by her sister Emma, if she killed their parents, Lizzie never answered, nor did she ever publicly express any emotion in connection with their deaths.

The Legend of Lizzie Borden shook up audiences and stirred something from within. In the end, the mysterious truth about the brutal killings remained a mystery.

As with many people accused of wrong doing, Lizzie Borden became a topic of discussion. Anyone who knew who she was or knew of her, gossiped, whispered and speculated for years following her acquittal. A child-like rhyming song emerged that went as follows:

Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother 40 whacks.
When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41.

Tags: 1975 | Elizabeth Montgomery | Lizzie Borden | Movies In The 1970s | The 1970s | TV In The 1970s

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Rebeka Knott


Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.