Entertainment

Remember Tabitha from Bewitched? She's Not So Little Anymore

When most child stars first appear on our favorite television shows and films, they impress us so much so that we believe they will grow up to become successful actors.

Sadly, time and again we have seen how a lot of our beloved child stars have slipped through the cracks and struggle to get back on their feet.

From Gary Coleman to Corey Feldman, we've seen the toll being thrust into the limelight at a young age can have on a person.

Of course, not everyone ends up falling down the rabbit hole. Take Erin Murphy for example.

Erin, best known for portraying Tabitha Stephens in the hit 60s sitcom Bewitched, went on to establish a successful career in the entertainment industry.

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Growing up on set

Erin was only two years old when she and her fraternal twin sister Diane took turns playing Tabitha, alongside Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York in the third season of the show.

Although her parents were actively involved in her life, Erin explained that her on-screen mom and dad "really were like parents" to her.

"I always called her 'Mantha Mommy, because I couldn’t say Samantha, and I called Dick Sargent, Darren Daddy," the 54-year-old actress explained.

"And I think it’s because we spent 12 hours a day together growing up. I looked to her 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."

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Unlike Diane, who often protested and cried on set, Erin was born to be under the spotlight.

"From the time I was a baby, I love it [SIC]," said Erin "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."

Knowing how much she enjoyed acting, Erin's parents made sure she continued to book roles after spending six seasons on Bewitched.

Life after Bewitched

The ever-so-charming Erin found her next calling soon after saying goodbye to the set she grew up on in 1972.

A year later, she was given a guest-star spot in the popular family show Lassie. She played a girl named Molly Craig in an episode titled "The Visitor."

Erin was so popular that an agency signed her as a model, and in the next couple of years, she appeared in over 100 commercials.

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One of her most recognizable ads was for a detergent brand, and Ronald Reagan, who would later become the 40th president of the United States, starred alongside her.  

If you grew up in that era, there's no way you wouldn't recognize Erin's face. She was everywhere!

Then suddenly, she vanished from our screens.

A normal childhood

In 1970, Erin was cast as a lead in a low-budget movie called Deadly Fighters with actors that were relatively unknown.

That was the last project she would appear in before temporarily retiring from acting at the age of 15.

Erin and her family moved from Los Angeles to Orange County, where she would spend the rest of her childhood as a normal kid.

She took up cheerleading while attending El Toro High School and later got crowned Homecoming Queen.

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"I think I kind of had the best of both worlds," she told ABC News.

Erin was no longer interested in being on TV, but she still kept in touch with other child stars she befriended during her stint in Hollywood, including the late Erin Moran of Happy Days fame.

Not so lucky in love

The former child star was just 21 when she got married and had her first child, Jason, a year later. She eventually moved to Arizona, where she lived on a ranch and taught acting.

She also started taking on jobs working on the other side of the camera, including production, makeup and stunts. She worked as a stunt double for Virginia Madsen and the Oscar-winning actress Melissa Leo.

Erin and Virginia MadsenErin Murphy/Twitter

Unfortunately, Erin's marriage did not work out, so she got divorced and lived as a single mother of two children for a while.

Four years later, she met her second husband, Eric Eden, and they tied the knot in 1993. They welcomed a son, Clark, but once again, the couple wasn't a match made in heaven, so they ended up getting a divorce in 1998.

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That same year, Murphy met her third husband, and as they say, third time's a charm. Erin and Darren have been together since and they are parents to three more boys!

Back in the late 90s, Erin said that she would return to acting after her six children were much older, and that's a promise she kept.

Return to the screen

She made a comeback by working as a host and correspondent for networks like E! and Fox Reality Channel.

She also appeared in a number of shows in the early 2000s, including Youthful Daze, NBC game show Identity, I Know My Kid's a Star, and RuPaul's Drag U.

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Erin also had a small part in Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling reality show alongside former child actors, including Dustin Diamond from Saved By The Bell.  

A few years ago, she starred in The Comeback Kids, a comedy series based on child stars of the 80s who are now in their 40s and trying to make a comeback.

A different passion

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After her four-episode stint, she turned her back on acting once more and instead focused on writing and her philanthropic work.

She became a beauty, fashion and lifestyle writer for various magazines. On top of all that, she also took up motivational speaking, which helped her spread awareness about autism, a cause she holds near and dear.

“I think it’s important for other parents who have questions. It’s one of those disorders that has become so prevalent," she once told Fox News.

Erin also dabbled in the fashion business, which led to her start her own company, Erin Murphy Knits. As the name suggests, the company offers eco-friendly, hand-knit clothing made with fur from her own alpacas.

Back to TV...again

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In 2017, after brainstorming with Alison Arngrim from Little House on the Prairie, Erin was ready to star in another project.

“We were at a party, and Alison Arngrim [from ‘Little House on the Prairie’] called me over to the dessert table," recalled Erin. Alison had an idea for a show that would star several former child actors. That's how Life Interrupted came to be.

Instead of a series, it became a TV movie that won several awards.

It seemed like that was the push Erin needed to take acting seriously again. In October 2017, she was cast in a short film titled I Might Be Famous.

There's no indication of whether or not she has anything in the works right now, but judging by her pattern, we'll most likely see her on TV soon again.

Do you remember watching a young Erin back in the 60s and 70s?

Awa has been writing for Shared for 3 years. She is a serial snacker who unapologetically loves celebrity gossip. Drop her a line at awa@shared.com.