Throughout the years, a number of classic television shows have graced the small screen. Whether it be comedy or drama, these programs are able to capture the imagination of the audience due to the quality on display. And back in the mid-1960s, one such show made its TV debut.
Indeed, Bewitched hit the small screen in September 1964 on the ABC network. A fantasy comedy delving into the lives of a witch and her human husband, the program starred the likes of Elizabeth Montgomery and Agnes Moorehead. Over the next few years, the sitcom went on to earn plenty of success.
Indeed, Bewitched became one of the highest-rated shows on television during its early seasons, with audiences loving its creative premise. On that note, the program subsequently ran for close to a decade, before coming to an end in 1972. Prior to that, though, the sitcom went through some big changes.
One of the most significant of those changes came during season three, as young actress Erin Murphy joined the cast. Taking on the role of Tabitha Stephens, she became a mainstay on Bewitched until its conclusion. However, with Murphy now in her 50s, she reflected on her life and career in 2015.
In the last 20 years or so, viewers have been treated to several high-end television shows, with some dubbing this the “golden age” of TV. From Game of Thrones to Mad Men and Breaking Bad, the quality of today’s small screen entertainment only goes up. With that being said, though, previous decades have also boasted a number of iconic programs.
Indeed, the 1960s was a particularly important period for television, introducing shows such as Star Trek and Batman. But they weren’t the only programs to make a long-term impact. Bewitched can be included in that category as well, as it became one of the most popular television comedies of the time.
Part of the show’s success was down to the chemistry between the show’s three leading actors. Montgomery took on the starring role of Samantha Stephens, while Moorehead portrayed her mom, Endora. As for Samantha’s human husband, Darrin Stephens, that part was played by Dick York in the first five seasons.
York was eventually replaced at the start of Bewitched’s sixth season, with Dick Sargent taking over the role. However, the overall dynamic between the cast shifted mid-way through the second season, as Samantha and Darrin had a baby girl named Tabitha. During that period, two different sets of twins played the part.
As season three began in September 1966, though, Tabitha was aged up a touch. The character was now a toddler, meaning that she’d been recast. So on that note, Erin Murphy, who was two years old at that time, and her twin sister, Diane, bagged the role of Samantha and Darrin’s daughter.
Born in June 1964, Murphy and her sister grew up in the care of their parents, Dan and Stephanie. Her dad ran a college in North Hollywood, California, while her mom plied her trade in the education sector. Before joining the cast of Bewitched, the actress’ twin had gained a bit of experience after appearing in a few commercials.
Despite Diane’s previous acting experience, though, her involvement in Bewitched was fairly limited. “They only used [my sister] for wide shots and reverse-angle shots,” Murphy told Life After 50 magazine in October 2015. “And then Diane left the show completely after [our] second season.”
Prior to that, Murphy had delved a bit further into the matter during an interview with ABC News in September 2015. “From the time I was a baby, I loved it,” she revealed. “I liked the lights and loved being on my set. My sister used to cry when they would bring her on set. Even now, she hates it.”
With that in mind, Diane appeared in just under 20 episodes of Bewitched alongside her sister, before the latter took on the part by herself. Over the next six years, Murphy featured in more than 100 episodes of the sitcom. Her final appearance came in “A Good Turn Never Goes Unpunished” at the back-end of season eight.
Reflecting on that particular period of time, Murphy spoke to ABC News about her relationship with Montgomery and Sargent on the set. “I always called her ‘Mantha Mommy, because I couldn’t say Samantha. And I called Dick Sargent, Darrin Daddy,” she said. “That’s what I knew them as. They really were like parents to me.”
On that note, Murphy then touched upon the close bond she shared with her TV mom off-screen. “A lot of people who knew Liz well, and knew me, told me how much I’m like her,” the actress continued. “And I think it’s because we spent 12 hours a day together [when I was] growing up.”
Murphy added, “I looked to [Montgomery] as a parent, and she would tell me what to do like a parent. In a lot of ways, I’m so much [more] like her than I am my own mom, which is hilarious.” However, the California native also had a strong relationship with another member of the Bewitched cast.
Indeed, Murphy enjoyed spending time with Moorehead as well. Much like Montgomery felt like her mom on set, the veteran actress took on the role of a caring grandmother, both on-screen and off. As a result of that, the former child star made a heartwarming revelation about her older colleague.
“[Moorehead] was probably my favorite person on the show in retrospect,” Murphy told ABC News. “I loved her like a grandparent. I had grandparents who lived in other states [that] I didn’t get to see and she didn’t have grandchildren. We had a really great, loving relationship. She’d do things like draw little cartoons for me between scenes.”
Murphy’s strong bond with Moorehead didn’t end there, though, as she then recalled a couple of other details about their friendship. “She’d tell me stories,” the actress added. “I loved going into her dressing room because everything was purple. I just thought she was the most colorful, most beautiful person.”
While Murphy had some fond memories of her co-stars, her overall experience working on Bewitched was just as positive. Despite arriving on the show at a very young age, she was still able to appreciate the work that went into each episode. So with that in mind, the California native made an interesting point.
“Everyone remembers things from when they were eight, but not much from when they were two,” Murphy told Life After 50 magazine. “I do have clear memories of being very young, watching the technicians set up the lights and the special effects. I always loved to see how the magic was done.”
At that point, Murphy then touched upon how some of those memories come back to her now. “If I watch an episode today, I will, many times, have a memory of doing that particular show,” she continued. “I especially liked the episodes when they brought in animals, like elephants and monkeys.”
Murphy, meanwhile, maintained a fairly normal life outside of Bewitched during that time, despite her growing status as a child star. Indeed, the youngster still went to elementary school to continue her education, alongside her on-set studies. As she quickly found out, fame didn’t have an adverse effect on that.
“My classmates never treated me like a celebrity,” Murphy explained. “I was just a normal kid. Well, except for when the studio would have me picked up in a limo and the whole class would come out to see me off.” However, everything changed for the actress when the show finished in 1972.
Around 12 months after Bewitched went off the air, Murphy made her next significant television appearance. She took on the character of Molly Craig in an episode of Lassie, a long-running show detailing the adventures of the titular dog. The child star then followed that up with a role in 1979’s Deadly Fighters.
Murphy earned plenty of other work during that period as well, but her passion began to dwindle as a teenager. “I did over 80 commercials up until I was in junior high,” the California native told Life After 50 magazine. “By then, I’d kind of lost interest, because I was into things like cheerleading and school activities.”
On that note, Murphy didn’t act again for over 30 years, as she took her life and career in a different direction. Despite that, though, she still put her experience to good use in the time that followed, working within the industry. Now in her 50s and the mother of six children, the former Bewitched star looks fantastic.
On the subject of parenting, Murphy opened up about her daily routine while talking to Life After 50 magazine. “I get up around 5.30 a.m., because my youngest has to get ready for school,” she told the magazine in October 2015. “My boys who are still at home are [aged] from 12 to 16, and then I [also] have three adult children.”
“[My adult sons are aged from] 21 to 30,” Murphy continued. “Which is hard to say and even harder to comprehend!” Alongside her work as a mom, the former child star also has an interest in the world of business. Indeed, she helps run an organization named Slim Chillers, which specializes in selling frozen vodka ice pops.
“We started the company two years ago and are in many retailers including BevMo. We also have an online store,” Murphy revealed to the publication. “Our signature products are four frozen pops that are flavored as an Appletini, a Cosmopolitan, a Lemon Drop and a watermelon lemonade Martini. So that also keeps me busy.”
In addition to Murphy’s business ventures, she’s done her fair share of charity work as well, giving back to people in need. However, one effort in particular has taken priority in the last few years. Following the birth of her son Parker, the former child star has participated in numerous autism movements.
“My son Parker has autism,” Murphy told Fox News in March 2016. “I’ve been involved with children’s charities my whole life. I was involved with autism charities before Parker was born and then obviously once he was diagnosed, I put that as my focus. I go to board meetings, I volunteer.”
Murphy’s efforts didn’t end there, though, as she went into a bit more detail regarding her involvement with the autism charities. “I speak at events,” the California native added. “I think it’s important to be there for other parents who have questions. It’s one of those disorders that has become so prevalent.”
As for Murphy’s career in the entertainment industry, she has appeared in various reality shows in the last few years. From RuPaul’s Drag U to Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling, the actor remained a regular feature on the small screen during that period. But away from that, she did harbor ambitions of returning to her first love.
“Being a parent has directed all of my career choices for a long time,” Murphy admitted to Life After 50 magazine. “I worked as a correspondent with the Fox Reality Channel and loved it. With Fox, I could make lunches and take my kids to school, work for a few hours and still be home before school let out.”
Murphy added, “I’ve always felt that if acting is right for me, there will be plenty of time to do that when [my children] are all off on their own. I would love to do a sitcom again. I’m very open minded about the kind of projects I would love to do. But I’m definitely more drawn to doing a television series.”
Following Murphy’s three-decade long hiatus, she finally made her acting comeback in 2012. She briefly featured in the television show Karma’s a B*tch, taking on the role of Vanity. Since then, the former child star has made small appearances in two other programs, while also bagging a role in the 2017 TV movie Life Interrupted.
Meanwhile, Murphy reflected on her advancing years during her lengthy conversation with Life After 50 magazine as well. The actress appears to be enjoying every passing moment of her life. With that in mind, she tries not to focus on the negatives or the future. In her mind, the destination shouldn’t take priority over “the journey.”
“I think so many people get caught up in the future ‒ what they hope for and want, things that may never come to be ‒ that they don’t enjoy the journey,” Murphy explained. “I believe there is joy to be found along the way. I’m one of those people that stops and smells the flowers. I live each day to the fullest.”
Murphy concluded, “I have an interesting life. There isn’t this grand ending that I’m aiming for. I find joy in every step, every day. I think, as we get older, we should all make each day as much fun as possible. I love being around animals and my kids. You just have to make the most of every single day.”