The Real-Life Candy Montgomery Story That Inspired HBO’s ‘Love & Death’

Expect extramarital affairs and murder...
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There’s nothing like a true crime series to add a little excitement to your evenings, and if you haven’t seen it already Love & Death is one to add to your list.

Produced by Big Little Lies creator David E. Kelley, the HBO Max miniseries Love & Death is based on a murder that rocked the small Texas town of Wylie in the 1980s.

The series, which is available on streaming services including Foxtel Now and BINGE, sees Elizabeth Olsen take on the role of Candy Montgomery, the notorious suburban housewife who was accused (and later acquitted) of brutally murdering her best friend, Betty Gore. 

Candy’s husband Pat Montgomery is played by Patrick Fugit, while Jesse Plemons and Lily Rabe take on the characters of Allan and Betty Gore. 

Elizabeth Olsen in 'Love and Death.'
Elizabeth Olsen in ‘Love and Death.’ (Credit: HBO Max)

If the names sound a little familiar then that might because Candy’s real-life story was first explored in the Hulu limited series Candy, which starred Jessica Biel.

But even in the HBO Max trailer, it’s clear Olsen took an entirely different approach to the character. 

“I have done all the things a wife is supposed to do. The house. The meals. Where is the payback?” Olsen’s Candy asks in the trailer’s voiceover, before asking Plemons’ Allan: “Would you be interested in having an affair?”

Olsen’s version of the murderous housewife seems to take a more Stepford wife gone mad approach, which Olsen explained to Vanity Fair as the series trying to “understand the type of pressure and perfectionism that could lead her to [the killing].” 

Plemons also told the outlet that the series has “a slight Coen brothers” vibe to it and “a weird, Middle America sort of tone”—which sounds perfectly creepy to us. 

With the series drawing from the original Texas Monthly account of the murder and the original court documents, there appears to be a balance between fact and fiction in this true crime series.

Following its release, Love & Death  has also received mostly positive reviews, including Olsen being nominated for a 2024 Golden Globe Award for her performance and Jesse Plemons getting an Emmy nomination and Critics’ Choice Television Awards nomination. In June 2023, HBO’s Max also said it was the streaming service’s most-watched original limited series, according to Deadline.

Elizabeth Olsen in 'Love and Death'
Elizabeth Olsen in ‘Love and Death.’ (Credit: HBO Max)

What is Love And Death Based On? 

Candy Montgomery was a bored, Texas housewife looking to have an affair. She decides to strike up an extramarital romance with her close friend’s husband, Allan Gore. 

After expressing her attraction, Candy and Allan danced back and forth between the idea, unable to decide if they should have an affair or not. Candy was persistent, while Allan was hesitant. He claimed to love his wife Betty, and she was pregnant with their second child, it seemed like the wrong time to cheat. But, against his better judgement, he gave into his baser instincts. 

Finally on December 12, 1978, the pair met at the Continental Inn and had sex. For the next few months, they would meet at a motel and sleep together, and after the birth of Allan and Betty’s child, he grew more distant and determined to work on his marriage. Candy, who had developed genuine feelings for Allan by this point, was devastated. 

On June 13, 1980, Allan was travelling for work and decided to call home to check on his family. He called multiple times and received no response. He called his neighbours and asked them to check, who find Betty’s body battered and bloody in the utility room. 

It wasn’t long before Candy became the prime suspect, especially once Allan confessed the truth about their affair to detectives. Candy confessed to killing Betty, but said she only did so in self-defence, after Betty confronted her about the affair and struck her first with an axe.

At some point, the altercation escalated and Candy struck Betty 41 times with the same axe until she was undoubtedly dead. 

“I hit her, and I hit her, and I hit her, and I hit her,” Candy testified in court.

Afterwards, Candy showered in Betty’s home before having lunch with friends that afternoon. She left Betty’s newborn alone upstairs. 

What happened to the real Candy Montgomery?

The real Candy Montgomery

According to the Dallas Morning News, Candy’s lawyer brought in psychiatrist, Dr. Fred Fason, who testified that Montgomery had a “dissociative reaction” and wasn’t aware of how many times she struck Betty.

The jury accepted her self-defence story, and shockingly, she served no jail time.

The court of public opinion however, did not agree with this verdict. According to UPI, crowds gathered outside the courthouse, chanting “Murderer! Murderer!” as she exited. 

After the trial, Candy and Pat stayed together and relocated to Georgia, but divorced four years later. She is said to still be living in the southern state under her maiden name, Wheeler. 

Ironically, the 72-year-old now works as a mental health worker, but has lived her life out of the public eye. 

Love and Death is available on  Foxtel Now and BINGE. Stream it live and on demand with a 10-day free trial. Start your free trial here.

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