The true story of Bewitched told by Erin Murphy (Tabitha)

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If you haven’t ever seen the TV show Bewitched, then you seriously missed out growing up! Never fear, however, as there are plenty of reruns on cable if you ever want to see what you missed out on. This extremely popular TV series started in 1964 and was broadcast for a whole 8 seasons until 1972. During its debut season, Bewitched was the second most popular TV show in the whole of America! Its popularity continued to rise over the years and is often featured in ‘Top TV Shows of All Time’ lists.


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Bewitched followed the life of a witch named Samantha (played by Elizabeth Montgomery) who marries a mortal man by the name of Darrin Stephens (initially played by Dick York). Darrin asks that Samantha tries to become a typical housewife and not use her magical powers, much to the disappointment of Samantha’s family. Her family are often interfering with her life, particularly her mother Endora (played by Agnes Moorehead). Typically, each episode would involve Darrin being put under some kind of spell, which would then cause havoc with the other mortals in his life, such as his boss and neighbors. As you can imagine, plenty of comedy ensues, but it was also about the loving relationship that Darrin and Samantha had; overcoming all odds to try and live a fairly ‘normal’ life.

As with most married couples, Darrin and Samantha decide to welcome a child into their lives. Enter Tabitha Stephens! Their little girl would become a big part of the show, gaining her own mini following as most child stars would do in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Erin Murphy would be the lucky little girl who would see her life totally changed by starring in one of the biggest TV shows of the generation. However, when the show ended and the dust settled, would people still recognize the former Tabitha Stephens?

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A born star

Erin Margaret Murphy was born on June 17, 1964, in Encino, California, as a twin to Diane Murphy. The pair were fraternal twins, which means that they weren’t identical, however, when they were younger they could certainly pass for one another. Not much is known about Erin when she was a baby, as she’s always played her cards close to her chest, but we do know that she would soon be catapulted to child stardom.

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A Bewitching debut

On January 13, 1966, the episode of Bewitched entitled “And Then There Were Three” was first aired. It would be the world’s introduction to the character Tabitha Stephens, the daughter of Darrin and Samantha Stephens (the main characters in the show). Darrin and Samantha are a bi-species married couple, meaning that Tabitha – played by Erin Murphy – is a half-witch in the show. Erin would have been just 18 months old when she first played the role of Tabitha, but it wasn’t just her that got involved…

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A twin thing

For the first season of Bewitched, and due to child labor laws, Erin shared the role of Tabitha with her twin sister, Diane. The pair looked very similar and had a similar stature, so it made sense for them to both play the part; this often happens on TV, such as the Olsen twins in Full House. However, as they started to get older, the fraternal twins started to look quite different from each other. After the first season, Erin Murphy played the role of Tabitha on her own.

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A shared birthday

Interestingly, Erin Murphy (and her twin, of course) share the same birthday of June 17 with the daughter of Elizabeth Montgomery; who played Erin’s on-screen mom. The only difference is that Elizabeth’s real daughter, Rebecca Asher, was born in 1969. She was, therefore, five years younger than Erin Murphy and born three years after the little star’s debut on Bewitched. Perhaps Erin and Elizabeth’s witch-like bond was stronger than people thought!

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A nose twitch secret

Erin Murphy once let the world on in a little secret about Bewitched, in an interview with Parade. The producer of Bewitched didn’t think that baby witches should be able to wiggle their nose, so Erin admitted that she herself had never tried. She did, however, say that Elizabeth Montgomery’s famous nose twitch “was a camera trick.” If you look very closely, you’ll notice that it is her mouth that is moving, not her nose!

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A fun place to grow up

In an interview with Fox News, back in 2014, Erin Murphy recalled her time on the Bewitched set with nothing but fondness. She remembers how there were always animals like elephants and monkeys on the set, meaning it was “a really fun place to grow up.” She also said that her fondest memories were the relationships she built with the other cast and crew members, during filming. Her childhood may have been different from the norm, but she certainly enjoyed herself.

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Swapping dads

Bewitched fans will know that the character of Darrin Stephens was played by two different actors over its 254 episodes. Dick York was the original Darrin, but he was changed to Dick Sargent in 1969 when Dick York became too ill to carry on. It was lucky that they both had the same name really, as this could have been quite confusing for a child actress like Erin! However, she said that she knew York “wasn’t doing well the last season he was on air, ” and she understood why they had to change her on-screen father.

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More child star friends

However, it wasn’t just the adult cast and crew members that Erin Murphy became friends with. She was close to all of the children on the set and says that her favorite episodes were the ones where she attended school so she could meet other child actors. It’s thought that she had a close friendship Erin Moran who played Joanie Cunningham in Happy Days. Little did Murphy know that her friendships with other child stars would set her up for something interesting in the future…

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A long run

Erin Murphy continued to play the role of Tabitha Stephens in Bewitched up until 1972 when the show finally came to an end. She had spent pretty much her entire childhood acting in a TV show, with a ‘fake mom and dad,’ so it must have been strange for her when it finished. Erin Murphy is credited in 119 episodes of Bewitched, with her last one, entitled “A Good Turn Never Goes Unpunished” airing on March 11, 1972.

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Lassie

Once Bewitched is over, Erin considered hanging up her acting hat for good. However, she guest-starred on an episode of the popular family show, Lassie, back in 1973. She played the character Molly Craig, in the episode entitled “The Visitor” which sees Lassie and Willy rescuing a stray dog that’s seen floating down a stream. Would this be the last TV appearance that we would see Erin Murphy in?

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Commercial star

After her brief stint in TV shows, Erin Murphy became a commercial star. In fact, over the next few years, she would appear in over 100 TV commercials! One of the most famous of these commercials was an ad for a detergent brand, where she starred alongside none other than Ronald Reagan, who would later become the 40th President of the United States in 1981. Everyone who grew up in the ‘70s would have seen Erin’s face dominating their TV screens; she was quite literally everywhere!

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Deadly Fighters

In 1979, Erin Murphy appeared in a low-budget movie called Deadly Fighters. It certainly isn’t very well-known, and she was the only famous face in the flick. This would be the last TV or movie appearance that we would see from Erin for a very long time. After all, she had spent her childhood in the limelight, and it was time for her to live her life a little. At 15-years-old, Erin retired from acting. For now.

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Going back to normal life

After being in the small-budget movie, Deadly Fighters, Erin Murphy went back to living a normal life. She once told Fox News that transitioning from being on a top-rated TV show to a “normal life” was really easy for her. She said, “Once the show was over, I was excited to go camp, hang out with other kids my age in the neighborhood… It was easy for me.” It must have been nice for Erin to be able to go back to normality so quickly.

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Stress-free teenage years

As Erin Murphy grew up, her teenage years were pretty dreamy. She attended El Toro High School in California, where she became a cheerleader and Homecoming Queen… naturally! The starlet continued to live a fairly normal life through her teens, occasionally meeting up with other child stars when she could. Erin attended San Diego State University for two years, before working as a karaoke club hostess and make-up artist in the mid-80s. It was around this time that she would fall in love for the first time…

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The first marriage

On November 4, 1984, Erin Murphy was to marry her first husband, Terry Rogers. The pair had two children together, Jason who was born in 1985 and Grant who was born in 1988. Unfortunately, Erin and Terry weren’t a match made in heaven. The pair divorced in 1989 and went their separate ways, leaving Erin to bring up her two boys by herself for a little while. It wouldn’t be long, before she was to fall in love for a second time, however.

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The second marriage

Four years after divorcing Terry Rogers, Erin Murphy met and fell in love with her second husband, Eric Eden. The pair were married in 1993 and had a son together, called Clark. This would be Erin’s third son, but it certainly wasn’t to be her last… Yet again, things didn’t work out for the star, however, as Erin and Eric got a divorce in 1998. This time, she didn’t have to wait quite so long before finding love once again.

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Third time lucky

In May 1998, Erin Murphy married Darren Dunckel – and yep, he does have the same first name as her on-screen father in Bewitched! This time, it was a match made in heaven as Darren and Erin have been together for nearly ten years now; they have also had three boys together, giving Erin a total of six sons! Around 1999, Erin Murphy commented that she would consider returning to acting, but not until her children were much older.

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A big family

Erin Murphy has a rather large family, with six sons in total (from three marriages). When asked what spurred her to have so many children she jokingly told Fox News, “People always ask me if I’m Mormon…” She went on to say that growing up with just one sister and thinking “The Brady Bunch” was the greatest show on earth, she always did want a big family. She admitted, however, that she had always wanted a girl, so perhaps would have stopped earlier if she’d had a daughter!

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Back to TV

As her children started getting older, Erin Murphy made her move back into television. She has worked as a host and correspondent for the Fox Reality Channel, E!, TVLand, and Disney Family’s Parentpedia. Over the next few years, Erin Murphy would also feature as small parts in various TV shows, including as a realtor in Youthful Daze. However, she wasn’t just going to dabble in the TV world again, Erin was coming back with full force!

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Identity

On December 20, 2006, Erin Murphy appeared on the NBC Game Show, Identity. This show introduces a contestant to a group of strangers, with a group of “identities” that include facts about their hobbies, occupation, and so on. The contestant then has to guess which identity belongs to which stranger. Turns out that Erin Murphy has changed a lot since her Bewitched days, as the contestant incorrectly guessed that she was an Army Ranger and not Tabitha from the hit TV show!

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More reality TV shows

A couple of years later, in 2008, Erin Murphy threw herself back into work, appearing in several reality TV shows. First, she was a celebrity judge on “I Know My Kid’s a Star,” before appearing with Bob Saget on 1 vs. 100. After these big names, she took part in a couple of smaller reality shows such as Groomer Has It with her Leonberger dog, Craft Lab, Over Your Head, and RuPaul’s Drag U.

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Mistress of Mayhem

At the end of 2008, Erin Murphy also took part in Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling reality TV show. Plenty of other child actors featured on the show, including Todd Bridges from Diff’rent Strokes, and Dustin Diamond from Saved by the Bell. Erin Murphy’s wrestling persona was dubbed Mistress of Mayhem (or M.O.M. for short), but unfortunately, she was eliminated in the third week.

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The Comeback Kids

In 2014 and 2015, Erin Murphy would have her chance at another successful TV role. The Comeback Kids was a comedy series based on child stars in the ‘80s who had hit their 40s and wanted to try and make a name for themselves again. Erin Murphy played herself in four episodes of the show, which was nominated for two awards before being canceled in 2015. Turns out, this wasn’t going to be her second big break after all.

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Writing and speaking

It seemed as though Erin Murphy was ready to throw in the towel with acting, once and for all. Instead, she focused her efforts on her writing work. The former child star became a beauty, fashion and lifestyle writer, working with magazines all around the world. Alongside this, Erin became a motivational speaker and would travel the country encouraging people to follow their dreams. She also had one important cause she wanted to spread the word about… Autism.

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Raising autism awareness

Erin Murphy had always been involved with autism charities but became even more involved when her son Parker was diagnosed with the condition. The star has been extremely proactive in raising money for various autism charities, along with speaking out about the condition and her experiences with it. She told Fox News, “I think it’s important for other parents who have questions. It’s one of those disorders that has become so prevalent.”

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Erin Murphy knits

Did you know that Erin Murphy has alpacas? In January 2012, the former child star was featured in a photo spread for OK! Magazine, alongside two of her alpacas. The photo was taken on her own ranch in Bell Canyon, California, and was to advertise her fashion business – Erin Murphy Knits. Her company made eco-friendly, hand-knit clothing from her own alpacas. She raised over $5,000 on Kickstarter to help boost business, but it’s been very quiet since 2014.

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Bumping into child stars

Every few months, Erin Murphy would find herself hanging out with other child stars – usually at a potluck or barbecue. It was during one of these encounters that things would start to change for Erin Murphy. She told Fox News, “We were at a party, and Alison Arngrim [from ‘Little House on the Prairie’] called me over to the dessert table.” Alison had an idea she wanted to pitch to Erin, about a new TV show that would feature several other child actors. And so, Life Interrupted was born.

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Life Interrupted

The selling point for Erin, according to her, was that she would be playing the wife of Alison Arngrim’s character! However, not everyone was sold on the idea and instead of being a series, Life Interrupted was turned into a one-off TV movie instead. It was released in February 2017 and ended up winning 16 awards, predominantly at independent film award ceremonies. Erin was back in the limelight, at least for a while.

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Back for good?

So, is Erin Murphy back into the whole acting thing for good? On October 2, 2017, she starred in a short entitled I Might Be Famous but doesn’t appear to have anything else in the pipeline. Perhaps the glittering lights of Hollywood don’t appeal to the former child star anymore. After all, she has six children and a whole farm full of alpacas to look after. One thing is for sure, we’ll always remember Erin Murphy as the adorable Tabitha Stephens from Bewitched.

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Close to Elizabeth

Erin Murphy says that she was very close to Elizabeth Montgomery, who played the main character in Bewitched. In fact, she said that the two were very similar, with Erin growing up to have the same dirty sense of humor as her on-screen mother had in real life. She once said in an interview, “She was just one of those people who was so beautiful, but she wasn’t afraid to look silly – kind of like Lucille Ball.” We love how close the on-screen mother and daughter were in real life.

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