Erin Murphy, the actress who played Samantha & Darrin's daughter "Tabitha" flew into cyberspace recently, and offered to stop by and spend some time talking with us about her expriences acting on "Bewitched". The interview was conducted in March of 1997.
Webmaster Question: How did your audition as a baby come about?
Erin: "What happened was that we lived in Los Angeles, where my father owned a business college. Everywhere my mom would go with Diane and myself after we were born, people would approach her and say "Oh you should get them an agent", or "Oh, they should be in acting". My parents discussed it, and decided they would give it a try and find an agent for us. Shortly after, we got our first commercial. I had always thought I had only done 1 commercial before Bewitched, but lately I have been reading that I did 3 commercials. I always thought that the 1st commercial I did was with Ronald Reagan, but I have never seen the commercial myself. It was for Borateem detergent. Not long after, we went in to audition for Bewitched. They were only auditioning twins. My mom tells me we went into a room where there were a bunch of toys to play with as well as other kids. Bill Asher & others were in there, and they basically just observed us while we played, so there was nothing really formal about what they asked us to do. So, after a few call backs, we were chosen for the part and we started work shortly after."
Webmaster Question: Where were you living when you started working on Bewitched?
Erin: "We lived in the Penthouse of The Murphy Business College that my Dad owned. He built the building, so it was his. Now I think the building is used for something in the entertainment business, like the Motion Picture Cartoonist Bldg. or something. We only lived there about the first 3 years of our life. My parents wanted us to live more in a neighborhood, so we moved to Canoga Park and had a nice house with a pool and a picket fence and all."
Webmaster Question: Any interesting stories you were told about things that happened while you were filming?
Erin: "I remember one funny thing I was told about an early episode - Liz put me down where I was supposed to stand still, but I took off towards the kitchen and she went running after me" It was unplanned, but they left it in because they loved it."
"Another one was, do you remember when balloons would come down and there were messages in them? I was terrified of those! There was a man standing there with one of those dart shooters, and they would blow through the balloon and it would scare me when I was right next to it. I always thought he was going to miss the balloon and hit me. I never told anyone it scared me though, & I didn't cry. But, if you see a scene where this happens, you will probably see that I look terrified!"
Webmaster Question: In episode #149 "Samantha Fights City Hall" it was very obvious that it was Diane in Tabitha's role & not you. What do you remember about that?
Erin: "I rarely was sick, but I had the Mumps I think, so they had to use Diane in that one. They had a lot of people write in after that one asking "who was that?"
"Diane and I are completely opposite", Erin continued. "We still are, but I think that that was one thing that appealed to the producers at the time. Diane was more hyperactive than I was. I think they wanted that diversity though, so each of us could be used differently for different scenes (in the early years). Some scenes like the banging on the pan, and scenes where there was food involved, they would use Diane, because Diane LOVES to eat! Even today, she remembers all our family vacations by what we had to eat!! They used us interchangeably in the first couple of episodes, but then they started seeing that there weren't just subtle differences, but that we really looked different. After this, they just started using Diane differently, again, in scenes that called for more activity etc. Her hair was very different than mine - it was more straight and fine, whereas mine sort of flipped up."
"Diane and I were never on the set together. Usually my mom was in the dressing room with one of us, and the social worker was on the set with the other. As time went by, it became a little hard as Diane would start to cry as soon as they brought her onto the set. So, really having no choice, Bill Asher started using Erin "double time", since Diane was a bit more unpredictable than Erin. Many people on the set didn't notice that it was Erin and not Diane".
Webmaster Question: What is Diane doing today?
Erin: She is the Associate Director of a women's crisis shelter in California.
Webmaster Question: I noticed that you very often sounded like you had a stuffy nose on Bewitched. Did you?
Erin: Somewhere along the way, my voice started sounding funny, and they said "what's happening to this child's voice?" They found out I had enlarged adenoids, so they were removed and the problem disappeared.
Webmaster Question: When you were very young, did they say the lines, and have you repeat them back, cutting out the narrator afterwards?
Erin: "No, I memorized all the lines myself. It was easy for me."
Webmaster Question: What about the special effects - as a child was it hard to get that perfected, having to stand still while certain scenes were being done?
Erin: "It really wasn't hard for me, for some reason I was very obedient as a child, and they said 'this is what you do', like freeze in place, and I just did it. It was funny because lots of times the adults couldn't always stand still or they would sneeze, but I don't think there was even one time that I moved".
Webmaster Question: We asked Erin to describe the set as she remembers it:
"Liz's dressing room was like a trailer, right at the edge of the set, so if you were walking out of the trailer, you'd make a right and you were facing the Bewitched living room. Hers was the closest to the set". "There were beads hanging in the doorway that I loved to play with", Erin says. "Agnes' dressing room was facing you as you walked out the "front " of the house set, past a large concrete area. I can't remember where Dick York's or Sargent's was." "My dressing room was Donna Reed's old dressing room, located upstairs above the set. It was beautiful, it had a kitchen, beds and all the comforts of home. It was where Diane & I would take naps, and have snacks in between shooting."
Webmaster Question: Describe some of the things you remember about your work week
Erin: "Every Monday we had our table read through where we read through our script around a big table and ate doughnuts! Then on other days you'd get the call sheets that would tell you what scenes you were doing the following day. Then you'd get there the next morning and they'd usually have some dialog changes and we'd go over those. Then I'd go to my dressing room for a snack, then on to wardrobe, which was a big room near where make-up was, where you'd try on what you'd be wearing for the day. I did not wear any of my own clothes, they had everything there for me. Then we would walk through the scenes. Did you know that many of the actors on Bewitched didn't really know their lines? There were scripts everywhere, behind the coffee table by the sofa etc. They would basically know them, but the scripts were there to help in case they needed them. The lines were to be read as they were written, except there were a couple of people who they'd let do a little improvising - Liz, Paul Lynde and maybe a couple of others. Any time I had free they would factor in my studies with the tutor on the set. For lunchtime, we would usually go off the studio lot - there was a restaurant across the street that I loved because they had breaded veal cutlets and that was my favorite thing. Sometimes we'd go to my dressing room and eat there. There was also a snack cart right outside the set, so we could get things there too. The day ended pretty late - I remember it was dark when we got home. It was a full day, and we didn't eat dinner until around 7 PM."
Webmaster Question: When Liz would zap herself into a different outfit, would they change her there right on the spot so she wouldn't have to move her foot placement, or did she go to her dressing room?
Erin: "She didn't usually go to her dressing room, she just went to the edge of the set usually, and Vi Alford would help her change. I remember seeing her change many times. I don't think she was a very modest person, so I don't think it would have bothered her to change in front of people (of course she always had a slip on under her dresses). There may have been a couple of times they changed her right on the spot, but not usually. They had tape marks on the floor so she would know where to stand when she came back to resume filming. She was good about getting back in the previous pose".
Webmaster Question: What was your relationship like with some of the other actors?
Erin: "Liz was like a second mother to me, I called her "Mantha Mommy" and Dick was "Darrin Daddy". Our family and Liz's family spent time together off the set as well. We would go to the movies, and my mom & Liz would sit up in the balcony and throw popcorn down onto us kids. It was really a lot of fun."
Erin remembers when Liz's daughter Rebecca was born in 1969: "I remember I was so excited that she had been born on my birthday!!! We went to visit Rebecca at the house after she was first born.. We brought her a weird present, but it was like the cool present of the time. It was some kind of a heavy duty clear plastic type of thing that you hang on the side of a crib, and there's a live Goldfish in it, so I guess the baby can watch the fish in it. Liz loved it! I don't know how you fed it though!!"
Erin continued, "Rebecca was such a sweet little girl, & I remember she used to come to our birthday parties, and we (me, Diane, Billy & Robert) were like the "big kids" and she was the little one, and I ALWAYS, ALWAYS wanted a little brother or a little sister, so she was like a little sister. We would do things like go miniature golfing, and teach her how to golf. I don't remember any of Liz & Bill's kids ever coming to the set. I always wondered about that, and why they weren't in the scenes with the other kids when we had a birthday party for me. I always thought "hey, Billy or Robert should be here too."
"A story I remember concerning my mom and Liz, was that my mom's name was Stephanie Ann Murphy so her initials were SAM. It was back then when everything was monogrammed, and my Dad had gotten her this monogrammed purse which she arrived with one day at the set. Liz saw it and said "What's that supposed to mean?" I don't think she realized that they were just her initials!"
Of Bill Asher, Erin says "I always called him Uncle Bill" He was always so nice to me. He always said I did a good job. I always knew that he wanted things done right."
“I also remember spending a lot of time talking to the prop man who was "Uncle George", he would always tell he about his cat named Chum Chum”.
"I loved Agnes Moorehead, I called her Grandmama off the set as well as on the show. She would read to me, and I always remember loving her purple & green plastic earrings - that and Liz's heart necklace were my dream jewelry!!" "Years later when we got the call that she had passed away, I was very sad, as it was like losing a member of my family."
"I don't remember Paul Lynde that much because he really didn't like kids. I don't really remember him paying any attention to me particularly." I liked the way he talked, though!" Kids memories are weird, you tend to remember things like "he smelled like smoke" more than other things! I remember my parents were always saying "smoking is bad, smoking is bad", and I remember thinking "If smoking is bad, then why is everybody around here doing it?"
"Alice Ghostly was great. I really didn't have any trouble visualizing scenes such as where I reached up my hand to Esmerelda while she was invisible to walk with her. I guess I had a good imagination. It was all written in the script, so I understood it beforehand."
Webmaster Question: What do you remember about Dick York leaving the show?
Erin: "I remember them sitting down & explaining it to me. I just remember him being sick, I mean being in pain, and having to sit down, and like leaning against things. When he left, I did miss him, a lot, but knew that he was sick & just couldn't be there anymore. In later years, I had spoken to him a number of times. We had wonderful hour-long conversations. I'm so glad I got a chance to talk to him before he passed away. He was such an amazing person, he could talk about anything. He was so sick, having Emphysema and on oxygen, basically he was restricted to his bed, but he was still making phone calls, trying to get sleeping bags for the homeless, & mattresses donated to homeless shelters. He always told me that I should never give money to a homeless person, that when I am making my lunch I should make 2 sandwiches and give someone that instead. So, ever since then, each time I get a doggy bag in a restaurant in an area where there are homeless people, I always give them my doggy bag, and they are SO appreciative. If he hadn't told me that, I would have thought it would have been insulting to someone to offer them food, but they are so grateful & thankful, and I learned that from him."
Webmaster Question: Was there a time when you realized that what you were doing was different from what other kids were doing at that age?
Erin: "Since I started so early, it was like I felt that I had ALWAYS been on television". Actually, I always liked other shows better. I wanted to be on other shows like The Brady Bunch or Partridge Family. I liked Bewitched, but I really couldn't appreciate the writing and things when I was a kid".
Webmaster Question: Was there an age where you realized "hey I'm doing this work, so I must be making money somewhere, but I don't know where?
Erin: "My Dad was an investor, so we all talked about money, but I never thought "oh, I'm going to work and making money. My parents said "you're making money, it's being put in the bank, and you'll get it when you're 21". I never asked how much, even through my teens. I trust my parents completely, they are wonderful, but I've heard so many horror stories from other people about these things. I know I made a lot of money compared to what everyone else in regular jobs was making".
Webmaster Question: Did you always watch Bewitched on TV every week?
Erin: "I didn't watch it when I was originally doing it because it was on past my bedtime, but it was on in the daytime so I saw it sometimes then. And there were times when I was sick, not feeling well in bed at night, and I'd come out of my room & Bewitched was on so I'd see it then".
Webmaster Question: Do you have any favorite episodes?
Erin: "I liked any of the ones with other kids in them. I didn't really like the one where I turned the kid into a Bulldog, though."
Webmaster Question: What about wrap parties at the end of a season and such, what do you remember about that?
Erin: "Oh they had huge parties, like Christmas parties and things, held at various places, some were on the set, some were held out at restaurants, and some were private parties at Liz's house. I went to lots of parties with them. Every year they would show the outtakes at one of the parties. I remember never understanding why all the grown-ups would go in and watch these movies, and my dad would go in of course, but we had to sit outside w/my mom, and I remember thinking "how come I can't watch the outtakes too? My mom said later that it was because of some of the language in them that they didn't want me to hear. I thought "but I was there when they said it originally!" I never understood it.
Another thing I remember, was one year, the prop department made this HUGE cake for Liz's birthday. They brought it out for her to blow out the candles, but they were those candles that don't blow out, they just keep re-lighting. So, she blew & she blew, and finally the whole cake caught on fire!! They had made a cake out of wood and had put frosting on it as a gag!"
Webmaster Question: Do you remember saying good-bye to the cast in general when Bewitched ended in 1972?
Erin: "No, there was no party or anything, as the show had been picked up and was supposed to return the next season. So, we all left that last season thinking we were coming back, but Elizabeth decided not to the final season, so the show ended then. I remember getting a call, and my parents told me that it wouldn't be on again the next season."
Webmaster Question: Did you have your own favorite TV/Movie Stars or teen idols that you liked growing up?
Erin: "No, and I think the reason that I didn't is because since I was exposed to famous people when I was really young, I saw that they weren't different than everybody else. I remember a lot of times other stars would come to the set to meet us all. Barbra Streisand came to the set to meet us, because she's a really big Bewitched fan. I remember it was a really big deal when Liz's dad came to the set. I really didn't know anything about him other than he was Liz's dad. I remember seeing him quite often".
Webmaster Question: Today when you meet people, what are the most commonly asked questions?
Erin: "Which Dick did you like better? What was "she" like to work with? (and I always reply 'which she'?, because I don't know if they mean Liz or Agnes Moorehead etc.), Weren't you a twin? What was it like (in general)? Did you stay in touch with everybody? Erin said "It's funny, because there are probably 5 questions, and everyone usually asks one of those 5."
Webmaster Question: Do you get a lot of people asking you to put your finger on your nose?
Erin: "Absolutely! 9 people out of 10! I always say no, but I'm doing the Rosie O'Donnell show coming up, and I just may do it there, we'll see."
Webmaster Question: Any opinions on the never-ending comparison of I Dream Of Jeannie & Bewitched?
Erin: "I don't think I Dream of Jeannie took away much of Bewitched's audience. I liked the show. I don't watch it much these days, I really like more of the contemporary shows like Friends, Seinfeld, ER, & Chicago Hope".
Webmaster Question: Have you seen the new show on now called "Sabrina"
Erin: "I have only seen part of one, because I think it's on at a time when we're not usually home. I have heard good things, and I have met the girl who plays the main part a couple of times and really like her. It's a show geared toward teen-agers, and I hope it does well."
Webmaster: Erin, this has been wonderful. I really appreciate your contacting us and sharing some of the memories only you could share. I know all our Bewitched fans will really enjoy learning about your experiences growing up on "Bewitched". Thank you!
Erin: "I was happy to do it!"
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