Richard Cox was born in 1930, on this day- April 19th. His mother was silent film actress Ruth Powell, his father was Elmer Cox, business manager to Douglas Fairbanks & director Erich Von Stroheim.
Cox studied theatre at Stanford University. He received a small role in 1954's Prisoner of War, starring Ronald Reagan. I suppose it was just too much of a burden to be billed as Dick Cox, & he changed his last name to Sargent.
Dick Sargent made the successful transition from live theater to TV & Film. He found work in TV series: Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, I Dream of Jeannie, & Adam-12. He played a lead role in One Happy Family & Broadside. Sargent was featured in the films: Operation Petticoat (1959), That Touch of Mink (1962) & the Elvis Presley project- Live a Little, Love a Little (1968).
I have read that Dick Sargent & Tammy Grimes auditioned for the original roles of Darrin & Samantha Stephens during the casting of the pilot of Bewitched. Sargent became unavailable because he was under contract for Broadside. He did go on to play Tammy Grimes's brother on the short lived series- The Tammy Grimes Show, where the lead character's name was Tamantha.
Bewitched, as we all know, went into production with Elizabeth Montgomery & Dick York as the Stephens. After season 5, York left Bewitched because of his back problems & a dependency on painkillers. To prepare viewers for the switch to a new Darrin in Season 6, ABC ran all of the shows in which Dick York did not appear during the summer 1969.
Sargent did not have an easy time stepping in to this top rated show with a popular leading man. He often appeared nervous & uncomfortable in his first season.
The role of Darrin was never written differently & that the 2 actors simply had a different interpretation of the character. Both Sargent & York have said that there was little room for improvisation & that the characters on Bewitched always stuck with the script. Sargent’s Darrin was more laid back & more sly.
Elizabeth Montgomery: “By the time Dick Sargent came on the show, Darrin & Samantha's relationship was 5 years old... Darrin's objections to witchcraft would have mellowed anyway, whether it was Dick Sargent or Dick York."
Dick York had praise for the continuation of the show & for Sargent's portrayal of Darrin. York: "Dick's a marvelous actor. He had a job to do & he did it well."
Sargent: "Occasionally, I wonder about Bewitched. But I guess we all wonder about something or other. Most working actors don't get a role where they become household faces. They may not know my name, I may be Darrin to people out there, but if people see you & smile at you & act like you're an old friend, I think that's a pretty swell accomplishment."
Sargent went on to guest star in many popular TV series: Taxi, Alice, Charlie's Angels, Diff'rent Strokes, Fantasy Island, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Waltons, The Love Boat, Three's Company, Family Ties, The Six Million Dollar Man, Murder, She Wrote, & L.A. Law. He appeared in TV movies: Rich Man, Poor Man, The Gossip Columnist, The Power Within, & Columbo: Uneasy Lies the Crown.
Sargent did voice work & returned to performing live theater when he had the chance.
In 1989, Sargent was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After a long & successful acting career, Sargent came out in 1990. He asked his old friend Elizabeth Montgomery to join him as Grand Marshall of the LA gay pride parade in 1992. Montgomery:"In or out of the closet, I love him. He's a super guy & a good friend. I'm happy for him & proud of him."
During the Bewitched years, Sargent's bio made mention of an ex-wife to avoid speculation about his sexuality, even appearing with gay actress Fannie Flagg on the gameshow- Tattletales as a couple. Sargent shared his life & his homw with his partner of 20+ years, Albert Williams, until Williams' death.
Sargent supported gay rights issues & was a life-long advocate of the Special Olympics. Sargent passed away from prostate cancer in 1994, less than a year before Elizabeth Montgomery's passing from colon cancer.