Bewitched was a series that ran in the 1960s and 1970s about a witch who marries a mortal and keeps her powers a secret from him. The arrival of their daughter, Tabitha Stephens, was one of the major plot points of the entire series.
From then on, little Tabitha was one of the main characters in the show, and the audiences loved her! It was Erin Murphy who played Tabitha for most of her appearances on screen (103 of 113 times the character was played). Here’s the story of how she got to play this iconic role, her life after and what she looks like now.
A Bewitching Little Girl
Erin Murphy and her twin Diane were born in Encino, California on the 17th of June 1964. At the tender age of 11 months old, she began her acting career starring in commercials for Folgers coffee and a laundry detergent with Ronald Reagan.
But she was destined for much more than just commercials. When she was 2, she got the role of Tabitha Stephens in Bewitched. Although her sister shared the role with her, it was Erin that was used for the close-up shots. Erin confessed to loving the spotlight while her sister had trouble adapting to it. She told ANC News during an interview, “From the time I was a baby, I love it. 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.”
The girls got older and began displaying difference in features, so it was Erin that was chosen to keep playing the character. She says that she spent so many years on set that the cast and crew became a second family to her. “I always called her ‘Mantha Mommy, because I couldn’t say Samantha, and I called Dick Sargent, Darren Daddy. That’s what I knew them as. They really were like parents to me,” she said.
The final episode of Bewitched aired on March 25, 1972, when Erin Murphy was only 8 years old. At her age, most kids wouldn’t have even had their first job, but Erin was ready to take on more. In 1973, she appeared in an episode in the 19th season of Lassie titled “The Visitor”, but soon after returned to acting in commercials. As a teenager, Murphy began losing interest in acting due to other things in her life, like any typical teenager.
Later on, she would describe this period of her life to the magazine Life After 50, stating, “I did over 80 commercials up until I was in junior high. By then, I kind of lost interest, because I was into things like cheerleading and school activities.”
Just Another Teenager
Erin Murphy went to to El Toro High School in Lake Forest, California. She says her high school life was pretty normal, but also conceded that what she thought to be ordinary might not have been so to others. Her high school days may not have been filled with fame or money, but she was pretty popular. Erin became a cheerleader, and starred in a high school dance production. She was also crowned Homecoming Queen, and later graduated in 1981.
After graduating high school, Erin took on a series of odd jobs, some of which included being a cosmetic sales person at the Mission Viejo Mall, and working as a makeup artist. According to her Facebook page, she was also a casting director, fashion stylist, acting teacher, Karaoke club hostess, and motivational speaker. Erin Murphy was incredibly talented and loved trying different things.
“I’m a big believer that life is short and you’ve got to throw yourself into it,” Murphy told the Tolucan Times. “It’s a good thing to push yourself and maybe do things that are a little scary. It keeps life interesting.”
But it wasn’t long before Erin’s true calling came back to her. Soon she was back in front of the camera again, making herself a common fixture in the living rooms of people everywhere. She worked as a stunt double for Virginia Madsen for sometime before eventually starring as herself once again.
Reality TV Stardom
Reality TV is something that almost everyone in Hollywood seems to do before they can move on to better things, and Erin was no exception, even if she had spent the better part of her childhood already in front of the camera. She landed a role at Fox Reality Channel as a correspondent. Even though her heart lay in the sitcom world of acting, she still enjoyed her days as a reality TV star.
When speaking about it to Life After 50, she said, “I had worked with 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.”
A Short-Lived Stint As A Wrestler
Erin Murphy appeared on Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling in 2008, and ended up being eliminated third. When speaking about it in an interview, she described how it wasn’t something she could see herself doing for a long time, but she was glad she did it.
“I had never even watched wrestling before I did the wrestling show,” she told the Tolucan Times. “It was scary and wonderful and awful and kind of everything you would imagine and I’m really glad I did it.”
She also told CMT that he would never bring her kids to see the wrestling matches live. “Something about Dennis Rodman grabbing mommy around the neck might be a little scary,” she said. Instead, they would watch it together on TV after it was over.
Glamming It With Drag Queens
In 2010, Erin Murphy returned to reality TV to do a stint in RuPaul’s Drag U, which she she says was a choice she made so she could spend more time with her kids.
“I think the biggest influence having a big family has had on my career is that it’s made me rethink my job choices,” she said. “I can’t do a sitcom or an hour-long drama — which is something I would be typically drawn to — but I’m not willing to be away from the family 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. I’ve made different career choices because I’m a mom. I mean, I love the reality genre and I love hosting but I don’t know that I would do as much of it if I didn’t have kids. I think I’d be on a sitcom.”
She also said that the experience gave her pointers on how to carry herself in her personal and professional life. Speaking to Socialite Life, she said, “[You] go in there and it’s all for good fun, but I have to say a lot of the drag tricks translate well to the red carpet, so I kind of got some posing pointers.”
She Is A Business Owner
When her children started schooling, being in a sitcom wasn’t a choice she had at the time, but she also didn’t want to sit at home doing nothing while they were gone. So, she and her business partner started up a company that makes low-calorie vodka popsicles, called Slim Chillers. Given her celebrity status, she is also the spokesperson for the company.
She told Life After 50, “We started the company two years ago and are in many retailers including BevMo, and we also have an online store. Our signature products are four frozen pops that are flavored as an Appletini, a Cosmopolitan, a Lemon Drop, and a watermelon lemonade Martini.”
She Dabbled in Theater
Theater was one thing that Erin said she would never do early on. But, as they say: never say never. In 2016, she spoke to the Windy City Times about dabbling in the open stage. “In the last two years I decided to act again so I started doing local LA theater.” She also said that she started her own play (her 4th) called the “Dead Pilots Society” about TV comedy pilots that never aired in 2016.
Erin Murphy seems like the person that would give anything a go if given the chance, but there are certain times where she has drawn the line. “I say no to many things. I never did horror films or Playboy but was asked many times,” she said.
Charity & Fundraising
Erin Murphy isn’t someone that was solely interested in promoting herself or being on camera, she is also passionate about many issues regarding society and healthcare. AIDS is one of the things she is very passionate about, and has been an advocate for the disease by participating in many volunteering and fundraising benefits.
Among the other social work that she is regularly involved in, some of the most notable are delivering meals through Meals on Wheels, being a Childhelp Celebrity Ambassador, and an anti-bullying activist. She has also been involved in raising funds for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and for cancer patients.
If all celebrities or child stars could take a leaf out of Erin’s book, the world would be a much better place!
Advocate for Autism
Erin Murphy has been an avid advocate for autism, and one of her 6 children has also been diagnosed with the developmental disease. She has been involved in aspects of raising awareness and raising funds, doing walks and PSAs on behalf of Actors for Autism and many other fundraisers and events.
“I was involved with autism charities before Parker was born and then obviously once he was diagnosed, I put that as my focus,” she told Fox News. “I go to board meetings, I volunteer. I speak at events. I think it’s important to be there for other parents who have questions. It’s one of those disorders that have become so prevalent.”
Alpaca ranching is not something most people have done, and Erin Murpy would seem like the perfect person to try her hand in it, given her impressive resume. But it was not for her own pleasure that she took it up. “Our family first got involved with alpacas as a form of pet therapy for our little boy with autism,” she wrote on her blog in 2012. “As parents of a child with special needs, we were also thinking of a long term career option for our son, since animals are his greatest love.”
The website for the Tranquil Veranda Ranch, which was the ranch the Murphys were involved in, doesn’t state if she’s still a part of it. But she’s certainly achieved her goal of helping people.
Launching A Kickstarter
Following her stint as an alpaca rancher, Erin came up with the idea of using the fiber from the animals to produce knitwear clothing. In 2012, she launched a kickstarter for the company, calling it Erin Murphy Knits. Her kickstarter description read, “I was looking for a business that was kid-friendly & eco-friendly, utilized 100% renewable resources and would help support the local economy. This led me to alpacas.”
The campaign targeted the winter collection and ended up getting fully funded. In November of 2012, collections of Erin Murphy Knits were shipped worldwide, but there has been no updates since. Even if the idea had ultimately not worked out, it’s admirable that she constantly tries to give back and better the world around her.
Her Return To The Small Screen
Erin’s children are all grown up, and they no longer need her as much, which is why she decided it was time to return to her number one passion: acting. In 2017, she was part of a short film called “I Might Be Famous”, playing a supporting character. According to IMDB, the premise of the short was that the main character Tabitha Briarwood, “discovers that she’s no longer famous, which begins her outrageous journey to become a celebrity again.”
In the same year, Erin starred as Nina Woodworth in a TV movie called Life Interrupted. The movie might not have seemed like a massive success, but it does signal her return to the avenue of acting. Speaking to ABC News, she said, “I don’t ever want to be complacent.”
We says she excited to see what life has in store for her next, and so are we!