Arguably the most popular Pop-Culture Witch of the twentieth century (at least among Gay men, at least until Elphaba came along), Endora of the TV show Bewitched is famous as one of the more exotic and flamboyant of Witches. Objecting strenuously to her daughter Samantha’s marrying a Mortal, Endora provided the show’s on-going conflict, and represented the glamorous, globe-trotting world of Witchcraft from which Samantha has exiled herself. Unlike other Witches such as Glinda the Good, Elphaba, the Scarlet Witch, or even Samantha herself, Endora does not live governed by a code of Good Witchcraft; Endora is actually a bit of a devious Witch, and (as many Bewitched episodes attest) is not averse to placing a spell upon some Mortal (often Darrin, otherwise known as “Durwood”), if she feels that they deserve to learn a lesson, Witch-wise, or have gotten too uppity as a Mortal, and need to be brought to earth a bit; Endora is the type of Witch whose conscience can remain untroubled by quite a bit of Witch-mischief and Mortal-befuddlement and humiliation. (I saw a cartoon once- I don’t remember where- but the set-up was that it was a meeting of the Bewitched script-writers, and one guy is going, “I’ve got it! Endora puts a spell on Darrin, who starts to act really weird, and no one knows what is going on, until Samantha figures it out!” Everyone else is going, “I like it! I like it,” and it was really funny, because of course, almost every Bewitched episode was like that.)
The saving grace to Endora’s feisty Witch-temperament was her Witch-Mother’s devotion to Samantha (and later, to her granddaughter Tabitha as well). Somewhat like Demeter determined to rescue her daughter from the insufferable Hades of Mortal-Life to which she has inexplicably tethered herself, Endora constantly tempts Sam with the delights of Witch-Life, and indeed warns “Durwood” early in the series, to “Be careful, Young Man! MOTHER is WATCHING,” before vanishing in an explosion of smoke. As with Charmed and Practical Magic, Witch-Sisters can be found in Pop-Culture’s Witch-World, as can Witch-Aunts and Witch-Nieces (as in Practical Magic again, or in Sabrina). However, the Witch-Mother/ Daughter relationship (loving, protective, exasperated) has seldom been explored as fully as in Bewitched.
Seldom too has the World of Witchcraft seemed as colorful and alluring as presented on this show. One could start to see Endora’s point, and have to wonder what exactly it was about placid suburbia that made it so attractive to Samantha. Endora otherwise conducted a very jet-set Witchcraft-lifestyle, often “popping” in on Samantha after having had lunch in Paris, or visiting a Maharajah, or climbing the Matterhorn. Endora best represented the free-spirited bohemianism of Bewitched’s Witches, a sophisticated, pleasure-seeking, worldly group whose liberated lifestyle proved very enticing fulfillment -fantasy to repressed Gay audiences of the ’60s and ’70s. Endora’s personal flamboyance and heightened style (exemplified by her flaming-red bouffant hair, her dramatic eye-makeup, and her cats-eye-tilted eyeliner) further endeared her to Gay fans. Indeed, something about Endora’s Pop-Culture prominence can be discerned from her name alone, derived as it is from the famous Witch of Endor, who raises the prophet Samuel to reveal the future for the Israelite King Saul. As “Durwood” learns to his discomfort again and again, one does not wish to offend a Witch of the Old Testament.