Bewitched Statue Fans Not Vexed By Salem's Witch History
TV Land executives finally revealed their controversial Bewitched statue, an 8-foot bronze dedicated in Lappin Park in Salem, Massachusetts on June 15th. About 1,500 Bewitched fans cheered as the statue was unveiled -- depicting a grinning Samantha Stevens (as played by the late Elizabeth Montgomery) in witch garb on a broom set against a moon sliver. A small number of grumblers declared the statue insensitive and inappropriate to stand in a town where 19 people were put to death as witches in 1692. To the cable network PR machine's credit, the statue generated just enough controversy to pop up in odd news for a month, but not so much fire that anyone was sued or killed. Except for the original Salem witches, of course.
TV Land has bankrolled and installed a series of statues celebrating the programs they continue to re-run, starting in 2000 in New York City with an 8-ft. likeness of The Honeymooners Ralph Kramden in front of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. That was followed by Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) tossing her hat in Minneapolis; Andy and Opie Griffith fishing in Raleigh, NC (an identical statue was later added in Mt. Airy, NC); and Dr. Robert Hartley (Bob Newhart), in Chicago.
The TV Land Landmark Project -- or whatever it's called -- may seem silly, but it is slyly infiltrating icons into American cities to perpetuate fictional characters, who are more easily loved by the public than the flawed, real world subjects of traditional monuments. With any luck, these gods of the small screen will endure -- though in a few decades no one may recall the TV Land connection. Remember those controversial Ten Commandments tablet monuments all over the country, subject of tense church vs. state legal fights a few years back? Most were installed in 1956 to help promote an epic Biblical film starring Charlton Heston -- Cecil B. DeMille's Ten Commandments.[06/18/2005]