Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Whatever happened to Erin Murphy (Tabitha on Bewitched)?








People still recognize me all the time! Bewitched is one of the few television shows that has never been off the air. We filmed in the 60s and 70s and we’ve been on TV ever since. I think the small amount of fame that I have is definitely a blessing. I’ve had wonderful travel and work opportunities because of being an actress on a popular TV show and people love the show, so they’re always pleasant when they approach.

- Erin Murphy
Interview with Douglas Cobb
In The Guardian Liberty Voice, May 6, 2014


Can you believe that Erin Murphy, who portrayed little Tabitha Stephens on Bewitched, is almost 51 years old now?  It's true.  Unlike many former child stars, however, the actress does not look upon her years on Bewitched as a negative experience.  In a November 15, 1999 article in People magazine, she is quoted as saying, "Being a child star was a positive thing.  I have such good memories from doing the show."

Erin Margaret Murphy was born on June 17, 1964 in Encino, California, an affluent neigbourhood in the Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles.  She is the daughter of Dan Murphy, a financial investor who died in 1992, and his wife Stephanie, a homemaker.

Not long after her first birthday, Erin was featured in a detergent commercial with none other than former U.S. president Ronald Reagan. As a child, she appeared in numerous ads, sometimes competing with the likes of Jodie Foster and Helen Hunt for a part.  In 1966, prior to her second birthday, she began portraying baby Tabitha on the hit television comedy Bewitched, starring Elizabeth Montgomery as the loveable nose-twitching witch, Samantha, and Dick York as her befuddled advertising executive husband, Darrin Stephens.

Bewitched debuted in 1964, but Tabitha was born during the show's second season in an episode entitled "And Then There Were Three."  The episode aired on January 13, 1966. Baby Tabitha was originally played by Cynthia Black, Heidi and Laura Gentry, and Tamar and Julie Young.

At the beginning of third season of Bewitched, Erin Murphy and her fraternal twin sister, Diane, began sharing the role of Tabitha.  They first appeared in an episode entitled "Nobody's Perfect," which aired on September 15, 1966.  As time passed, the twins began to resemble each other less.  As a result, Erin eventually took over the role of the irrepressible child witch.  In that 1999 article in People, Diane denied that there was any sibling rivalry between her and her twin sister because "they had a lot of structure at home."




Erin Murphy (left) and sister Diane 


Erin is one of the few regular Bewitched cast member still alive  Her TV mother, Elizabeth Montgomery, died of colon cancer on May 18, 1995 at the age of 62.  The first Darrin, Dick York, died on February 20, 1992 of complications from emphysema.  He left Bewitched after season five due to severe back pain and addiction to painkillers.  From season six until the show went off the air in 1972, Dick Sargent played the role of Darrin Stephens. Sargent died of prostate cancer on July 8, 1994 at the age of 64.

Erin had a close relationship with Agnes Moorehead, who played Endora, Samantha's mother and Tabitha's grandmother.  Agnes died of uterine cancer in Rochester, Minnesota on April 30, 1974.  She was 74 at the time of her passing.


Erin as Tabitha with Agnes Moorehead as Endora

In an interview with Carl Amari on the website Reminisce, here is how Erin replied when asked to name her favourite actor on Bewitched:

I loved them all, but my favourite was Agnes Moorehead.  She was nothing like people may think. Everyone thought she was scary, but she wasn't scary at all.  To me, she was like a grandma.  I loved visiting her dressing room, which was all purple.  She was smart and funny and would draw me little cartoons.  I just loved her so much.  She was such a colourful and amazing person.

Paul Lynde, who portrayed Endora's brother,Uncle Arthur, passed away on January 10, 1982.  He was found dead at his home in Beverly Hills, California, and the coroner ruled the death a heart attack.  Lynde was 55 years old.

Maurice Evans, the English actor who played Samantha's father Maurice, died of heart failure on March 12, 1989.  He was 87.

Marion Lorne, who played sweet, confused Aunt Clara, Lorne died of a heart attack on May 9, 1968 at the age of 84.  Her death, at the age of 84, came just before production of the show's fifth season.


Aunt Clara with Tabitha


David White, who portrayed Darrin's boss, Larry Tate, died of a heart attack on November 27, 1990. He was 74.

Alice Pearce, who played nosy neighbour Gladys Kravitz, died of ovarian cancer on March 3, 1966, towards the end of the show's second season.  Pearce was diagnosed with cancer before the show began and was only 48 when she passed away.  Her replacement on the show, Sandra Gould, died of a stroke at the age of 82, on July 20, 1999.

George Tobias, who portrayed Gladys' long-suffering husband, Abner Kravitz, died of bladder cancer on February 27, 1980.  He was 78 years old.

Bernard Fox, the British actor who played Dr. Bombay from 1967 to 1972 is still living at the age of 87.

Alice Ghostley, who appeared in 15 episodes as the nanny/maid Esmeralda between 1969 and 1972, passed away on September 21, 2007 at the age of 84.

Mabel Albertson, who played Darrin's mother, Phyllis Stephens, died of Alzheimer's disease on September 28, 1982.  She was 81.

Twins Greg and David Lawrence portrayed Tabitha's younger brother, Adam Stephens, from 1970 to 1972.  Adam was born on an episode that aired on October 16, 1969.  The episode was entitled "And Something Makes Four."  He was only shown as an infant that season, and the baby who portrayed him was uncredited.

In the eighth and final season of Bewitched, there was an episode called "Adam, Warlock or Washout" (Season 8, Episode 14, Air Date: December 29, 1971.  In the episode, Adam had his "abilities" tested.  If normal, he was to be taken away from Samantha and Darrin.  Maurice intervened and helped Adam, but Adam later showed that he had powers all along.


The twins who played Adam Stephens


Below is a picture of the brothers as they appeared on a talk show hosted by Vicki Lawrence.  David (left) is now known as David Mandal-Bloch.and Greg is now Greg Mandal.  They claim to be the sons of the late actor Tony Curtis, but Curtis never acknowledged them.  "Mandal" is their adoptive family's name.





In her interview with Carl Amari, Erin explained why she believes Bewitched has remained so popular after all these years.  She made the following comment:

If something is done well, whether it’s television, music or radio, it holds up over time. The show was well-written, we had a really great cast and director, and it was a high-quality production. I think it’s still funny today, and people still love it.


Although a mere eight years old when Bewitched ended, Erin Murphy took a hiatus from acting and lived a life away from show business.  She busied herself with such activities as being a Girl Scout and a cheerleader.  Then she attended San Diego State University for two years.


Erin Murphy's Facebook photo


In 1994, Erin attempted to revive her career by doing the talk show circuit with other child stars such as Danny Bonaduce of The Partridge Family and Gary Coleman of Diff'rent Strokes.  However. as she told People magazine, it was not a good experience.  In comparison to the troubled Bonaduce and Coleman, Erin was highlighted as the child star who managed to avoid their problems.  She soon discovered that she "didn't want to be the poster child for good child stars."

Erin Murrhy has been married three times, divorced twice, and is the mother of six sons. She wed her first husband, Terry Rogers, on November 4, 1984, when she was just 20 years old.  Rogers, 40, owned a wood-flooring company.  The couple left California and moved to Tucson, Arizona.  In Arizona, Erin worked as a stunt double, a karaoke club hostess and a makeup artist.  She and Rogers had two sons: Jason (born 1985) and Grant (born 1988).  Their marriage, however. did not last, and they divorced in 1989.

After her divorce, Erin returned to California with her two young boys.  In 1993, she married her second husband, Eric Eden, a rock musician, and the pair settled in Newark, Delaware. That marriage lasted until 1998 and produced one son, Clark (born 1995).

Erin has been married to her third husband, Darren Dunckel, since May of 1998. They met in a bar on St. Patrick's Day and tied the knot two months later. Coincidentally, he has the same first name (although spelled differently) as her television father, Darrin Stephens. Strangely enough, Dunckel told People magazine that his sister teased him when he was a kid by calling him "Durwood," the name Endora used to put down her son-in-law, Darrin,


Darren Dunckel

Darren and Erin


Dunckel, a financial executive, has been CEO at Atomic Paintball Inc. since 2012. He and Erin are the parents of three sons: Dylan (born 1999), Parker and Carson. Their son Parker has autism and Erin is devoted to autism-related charities.


END NOTE

Erin has her own company, Erin Murphy Knits, which offers handknit Eco friendly alpaca wear. The alpacas are raised on her 10 acre (4.04 hectare) Tranquil Veranda (TV) Ranch in Santa Clarita, California.  Since becoming Erin's home, TV Ranch has hosted made-for-TV movies. television commercials and photo shoots.

Erin never planned to become an alpaca rancher.  She acquired alpacas as "pet therapy" to help her son, Parker, develop language skills.  “My son is autistic, and the alpaca is the perfect animal for him,” Erin declared in an August, 2013 article in the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.
The alpaca is a calm and docile, she told the Signal.  

Erin also pointed out the benefits of alpaca fibre. “It’s soft, fireproof, waterproof and doesn’t contain lanolin like wool - so people aren’t allergic,” she stated.

It is interesting to note that Erin's TV, grandmother, Agnes Moorhead, enjoyed knitting.  In the Signal article, Erin reminisced about how Agnes would knit on the set.of Bewitched.  "I thought it was only a hobby for grandmothers," she remarked.  “But it’s become really popular to knit on set, even with the young actors.”

Alpaca ranching suits Erin's needs.  She was looking for, a business that utilizes 100 percent renewable resources and supports the local economy. Her alpaca knitwear is also used to raise funds to promote autism awareness.



Erin and her alpacas

EDITOR'S NOTE (September 3, 2016): Diane Murphy played Tabitha in a 1968 episode of Bewitched entitled "Samantha Fights City Hall" (Season 5, Episode 9, Air Date: November 28, 1968). In the episode, Samantha tries to save a park from being turned into a shopping mall by one of Darrin's clients. Diane was four years old at the time.


- Joanne

34 comments:

  1. hi i was watching betwiched and i saw that there was 3 people that played mrs kravitz am i wrong

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    1. Only two women played the part of Gladys Kravitz on Bewitched. Alice Pearce portrayed Gladys from 1964 until 1966. Sandra Gould was the second Gladys. You must be thinking of Harriet Kravitz, Abner's sister (Gladys' sister-in-law). After Alice Pearce's death of cancer in 1966, Mary Grace Canfield was brought in to play to play Harriet for four episodes. Sandra Gould then replaced Alice Pearce in the role of Gladys Kravitz.

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  2. Is Larry Tate wife on bewitch still alive or she deceased also

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  3. The role of Louise Tate, Larry's wife, was played by two different actresses during the run of Bewitched. Both are deceased. Irene Vernon originated the role. She portrayed Louise from 1964 until 1966, when she left the show. Vernon was replaced by Katy Rogers and Rogers portrayed Louise from 1966 until the series ended in 1972. Irene Vernon passed away on April 25, 1998 in South Bend, Indiana. She was 76. Katy Rogers passed away in Los Angeles on July 6, 2006. She was 80 years old and she died of a stroke brought on by complications from treatment of throat cancer.

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    1. CORRECTION: KASEY ROGERS played the second Louise Tate.

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  4. Enjoyed the article. To this day, Bewitched is one of my favorite shows. I watch it every time I can catch it in reruns. Enjoyed reading up on the cast. Thanks for the good memories.

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  5. Enjoyed the article. To this day, Bewitched is one of my favorite shows. I watch it every time I can catch it in reruns. Enjoyed reading up on the cast. Thanks for the good memories.

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  6. Bewitched was my first exposure to witches and the supernatural. Years later tracing my family ancestry back to Ireland I now know why I love shows about witches and the supernatural. Aaron Spelling was also involved in my love of witchcraft with all of his TV shows about it. Thank you for being a part of my spiritual beliefs

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  7. I've been watching it again. Just a great show I can watch it over and over. Never did see logical that Darren was so much against witchcraft, but they had to have some conflict in a funny show. My favorite character was Uncle Arthur. I'm amazed at the high cancer death rate of the people on the show.

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  8. Loved them all, miss them all. Good to see Erin & sis are doing well. Many blessings to them.

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  9. Hi Erin. I'm still a fan. Love your work. Watching you on the show late nights is so refreshing. Life can be so stressful. I'm a black women, with three grown sons. Color makes no difference, your TV family became mine as a little girl. Love you
    Take care... Lolita

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    1. @Lolita I can relate my dad is black and my mom is white so I can understand both sides... my fav episode was when Tabitha and the little black girl wanted to be sisters so bad that they became pokadots lol just thinking about that episode brings back such great memories.

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  10. Hi Erin still watching reruns never allways gets a laugh just loved the show my kids watch it to and get a laugh as a child i watched the show ,and everytime bewitched comes on i watch it again thanks so much for being part of tthe show

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  11. I'm wondering where the show was shot please? Is it just my imagination but a large % of these actors died of cancer. Larger than you'd expect. Was there a problem with the location? There has been one show that have since found the location was contaminated

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    1. Bewitched was filmed in the Los Angeles area. It is true that members of the cast died prematurely and of cancer. I have not read anything about contamination. You may be interested in reading the following article about what has been called "the Bewitched curse." at http://www.snopes.com/radiotv/tv/bewitched.asp

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  12. A great show like many of that era wholesome

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  13. We watch bewitched all the time. My mom is a year younger than Erin (Tabitha) my two six year olds love watching the show!

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  14. I am 52 and I love bewitched I have had two sets of cats named tabjtha and Samantha . In fact I was going thru my channel and quests what on Bewitched so I'm watching it right now!

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  15. My daughter just bought the complete series of Bewitched. Loved the show when I was a child. Loving it even more today. Every actor/actress on the program were all amazing. Clara is my favorite. Loved her innocents. So happy to read that Erin and Dianne are doing well. Best wishes to all. Still love Bewitched.

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  16. I'm the same age as Erin, grew up watching the show. It's on right now actually, and I became a bit curious about Erin. Glad to see she's doing so well :-)

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  17. Thank you for the updates .. Well done and still love this show

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  18. I am 60 and watch all the iconic old shows evry morning - Bewitched is on the top of my list. These shows give me a calm start to my day.

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  19. I believe the statement that Adam had no Warlock powers as being wrong. I clearly remember an episode where Adam was near one or so and was being tested for his 'abilities', which he had not shown yet. His warlock grandfather stepped in and did a few for him, but it is found out that Adam had these abilities all along! Am I wrong in this account?

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  20. No, James, you are not wrong. In the eighth and final season of Bewitched, there was an episode called "Adam, Warlock or Washout" (Season 8, Episode 14, Air Date: December 29, 1971). In the episode, Adam had his "abilities" tested. If normal, he was to be taken away from Samantha and Darrin. As you stated, Maurice intervened and helped Adam, but Adam later showed that he had powers all along. Thank you, James, for correcting my error.

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  21. I just bought the complete series and am just loving watching it all again, I put it on everyday while I work (sew). It relaxes me to go back to such an uncomplicated time in my life when that show was on, the color is just beautiful, I've been noticing that a lot of the clothing Samantha wore are all back in style today. And that Erin/Diane were really fantastic little actresses. You can tell that the cast really did love them.

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  22. I named my daughter Tabitha after bewitched its my favourite tv show of all time. :)

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  23. I grew up watching Bewitched and it was my favorite show! It was torture waiting a whole week for the next episode. I am still waiting for my powers to develop so I can clean as fast as Samantha did!

    I am happy to read your update and I am glad Erin is doing well. My question is about Diane: Does Diane have any children? I wondered if either girl had twins and you answered about Erin's children.

    Thanks again for the update.
    Gail

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    1. Hi Gail

      Sorry for the delay in answering your question. I had difficulty in finding information about Diane's personal life. I was unable to discover whether she has any children. I did learn that she was an analyst for a medical device firm in Santa Barbara, California. (November, 1999). She was the associate director of a women's crisis shelter in California (1999).

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  24. Love watching the show now and then!! It never ceases to entertain.

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  25. Great post - except for one little discrepancy. Adam was a witch ( or warlock as they would say on the show, although I now know that a warlock was, in fact, a wizard in Scotland. ). In the 8th season episode #242 Adam even performed the "test" for the crones the same as Tabitha did. The show never got to expand on his powers because it went off the air soon after.

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    1. Thanks for writing, Carole. You are absolutely right. Someone pointed that out to me in a previous comment. I made a correction in the "comments" section, but not in the main article. I have now made a correction about Adam in the main article.

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  26. I'm interested in royalties for these old shows. Does Erin still get money every time an episode plays? Any idea how much and what it adds up to each month/year?

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    1. I need some time to research this question. When I find the answer, I will write a piece about it and post it on TV Banter.

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