Gladys Kravitz

Gladys Kravitz was a fictional character on the American situation comedy Bewitched (1964-1972). Portrayed by Alice Pearce from the show's premiere in 1964 until Pearce's death in 1966 and then by Sandra Gould from 1966 until her last appearance in 1971, Gladys Kravitz was an across-the-street neighbor of the program's protagonists, Darrin Stephens (played by Dick York from 1964 to 1969 and Dick Sargent from 1969 until 1972) and his wife, witch Samantha Stephens (Elizabeth Montgomery).

Kravitz was extremely nosy, frequently peeking through her curtains at the Stephens' home. Kravitz was convinced that there was something strange going on in their household (and indeed there was, as Samantha Stephens often used witchcraft that created unusual events and as Stephens's witch-and-warlock relatives came and went from the house), although she could never adequately prove her assertions to her husband Abner (George Tobias).

Kravitz's nosiness, her frustration at never being able to convince her husband or other neighbors of the odd behavior across the street, and the difficulties she caused the Stephens were all recurring themes on Bewitched. Samantha Stephens could always come up with a fabricated reason why Gladys Kravitz had seen what she had seen, and Kravitz could never prove to others that there was anything beyond the ordinary happening at the Stephens', which caused her no end of annoyance and caused her to question her own impressions and even sanity.

Gladys was one of the few, if not only, mortal characters to see through Samantha and Darrin's ruse. She clearly knew that there was something strange going on, even if she wasn't entirely sure of the source of the oddities. In contrast, Darrin's boss Larry Tate had frequent contact with Samantha and Darrin and never suspected a thing. Gladys was the one mortal who was observant (or nosy) enough to notice the effects of witchcraft at the Stephens' home, even though no one in the Stephens family ever admitted to Gladys that Samantha was a witch.

Alice Pearce, the first Gladys Kravitz, won a posthumous Emmy award in 1966 for her work on Bewitched.

In the 2005 film Bewitched, based on the television series, the role of Gladys Kravitz was played by Amy Sedaris.

In popular culture

Although a relatively minor character on Bewitched, the role was memorable enough that the term "Gladys Kravitz" entered the American lexicon, and is even today used as a synonym for a nosy neighbor or colleague.

  • In the episode "Dammit Janet!" of the animated television series Family Guy, Lois finds her son taking down the Christmas decorations on the roof by throwing rocks at them. "Chris, stop it. What will the neighbors think?" The scene cuts to an animated version of Gladys looking through her window, yelling, "Abner! Abner! The Griffin boy just killed a plastic reindeer!"
  • In an episode of The Hogan Family, Jason is trying to convince Sandra he saw something. When she warns him he's "beginning to sound like Gladys Kravitz", he notes "Yeah, but she was always right!"
  • On Roseanne, in the episode "Trouble with the Rubbles", new neighbors move in and Jackie finds Roseanne staring attentively through the window. Roseanne sarcastically says: "Well, okay, the husband Darrin, he's in advertising, and they have this cute little daughter named Tabitha. But the wife, I don't know, something's wrong with her. I think she's a witch," comparing herself to Gladys Kravitz.
  • In the animated tv series The Simpsons, episode Milhouse Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Gladys Kravitz has a statue in the TV Museum inside the "Hall of Nosy Neighbors".

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