Actor Dick Sargent, Long-Suffering Husband On Television's `Bewitched'

LOS ANGELES - Dick Sargent, who played a beleaguered husband on the television series "Bewitched" and later declared his homosexuality with pride, died yesterday. He was 64.

Mr. Sargent died of prostate cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was admitted Wednesday, hospital spokesman Ron Wise said.

"He was a great friend, and I will miss his love, his sense of humor and his remarkable courage," said Elizabeth Montgomery, Mr. Sargent's co-star on "Bewitched."

Mr. Sargent was diagnosed with prostate cancer 4 1/2 years ago, and doctors were initially optimistic he could be treated successfully because it was found early.

But in a television interview in March, a frail-looking Mr. Sargent said the disease had spread.

In 1991, on National Coming Out Day, he announced he was gay. The high rate of suicide among young homosexuals was the main reason, he said, jokingly referring to himself as a "retroactive role model."

Mr. Sargent recognized his ill health may have led people to assume he suffered from acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

"I don't have AIDS," he said. "I am HIV-negative. But if I did I would wear that badge as proudly as everybody else who has it."

Mr. Sargent was best known for his 1969-72 "Bewitched" role of advertising executive Darrin Stephens, a mortal coping with marriage to a charming witch, Samantha, played by Montgomery.

His predecessor as Darrin, from 1964-69, was Dick York, who died

in February 1992.

Mr. Sargent was born Richard Cox in Carmel, Calif., on April 19, 1930, the child of parents with show-business ties. His mother, Ruth McNaughton, was a supporting actress in "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" and other movies. His father, Elmer Cox, was a business manager for clients including Douglas Fairbanks.

As a Stanford University student, Mr. Sargent appeared in more than two dozen plays with the Stanford Players Theater.

After graduating, he won a bit part in the 1954 film "Prisoner of War" with Ronald Reagan, and he appeared in the films "Bernardine" and "A Touch of Mink," starring Cary Grant.

On television, Mr. Sargent was a regular in five series, including the 1961 situation comedy "One Happy Family."