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- Published February, 1998 -

Bewitched Memories
and Memorabilia
by Bill Morgan

Many television sitcoms of the 1950s portrayed the middle-class prosperity and harmony of average American families, like that of Ozzie and Harriet.  By the 1960s, a transformation occurred into those permeated with imagination and fun-filled fantasy.  Several shows of this era were centered on a "supernatural" premise and include My Favorite Martian, The Flying Nun and I Dream of Jeannie.  But none was more successful or engaging as the magical sensation of Bewitched.

Because both of us were born after Bewitched had already ended its original weekly run on the ABC network, our obsession for the series was ignited by daily afternoon doses of the program in reruns.  Neither one of us can remember having any Bewitched toys or memorabilia as a child, but later found that there was a variety of collectibles made once we started our collecting escapades about eight years ago.

We can't blame our parents for not buying Bewitched memorabilia for us.  Manufacturing of licensed items was quite sparse.  When Bewitched was first introduced in 1964, it quickly became the # 2 show in the country, running second only to Bonanza.  Surprisingly, unlike Bonanza, not even a lunch box was produced, which is one of the staples of TV memorabilia.

TOYS R BUST

During the original run of Bewitched, less than 50 licensed items were produced.  That's a small amount when compared to some shows of today, like Beverly Hills, 90210, which is responsible for more than 500 related collectibles.  The most coveted items from the Bewitched collection are the two dolls made by Ideal.  In 1965, a 12" poseable Samantha doll was sold in a window display box and was seated on a straw broom.  The name "Samantha" was written across the lower front of the box window and the back wall proudly promoted a photo of Elizabeth Montgomery.  The doll is dressed in a red velvet gown covered with colorful glitter specs and comes with a matching witch's hat and red shoes.  The escalating demand for this doll has brought the current value to over $300 when found out of the box and more the $1,500 when complete in the box.

Following Tabitha's TV birth on January 13, 1966, Ideal introduced a second doll named "Tabatha" with an "a."  The Tabatha doll is a life-like, 14" vinyl doll with a soft body and painted blue eyes.  She comes dressed in a two piece pajama outfit and is packaged in a bright pink window display box.  The box features a photo of Samantha, Endora, and Darrin on the front with a cityscape backdrop inside the box.  The doll is marked "1965 Screen Gems Inc., Ideal Toy Corp" on the back of the head and body. This is important because some unknowing dealers have recently offered Tabatha "look-a-likes" as genuine.  Other Ideal playmates may have recycled the Tabatha look, but the head and body will not have the Screen Gems marking.  Another feature to look for on an authentic Tabatha doll is the squeaker box in her upper chest.  A simple push will make her voice a small cry.  The value of this popular Bewitched baby is similar to that of her parent doll, Samantha.  Last year, a boxed Tabatha doll was a top seller in Toy Scouts' second annual TV and Movie Memorabilia Auction, realizing $2,420.

We once thought this item was marked incorrectly, but later discovered that the show's original script contained the spelling of Tabatha with an "a."  This was changed during the fifth season to read "Tabitha" with an "i."  The new spelling can be seen in the ending credits of episode 143, "Samantha on the Keyboard."  According to Erin Murphy, who starred in the role, it was her father who prompted the correction when he pointed out that the name was usually spelled with an "i."  All of the memorabilia marketed prior to the fifth season was labeled with the original spelling of "Tabatha." 


BEWITCHED, BOTHERED AND COLLECTIBLE

From April 1965 to October 1969, Dell Publishing Co., Inc. was busy transforming the series' bewitching characters into illustrated counterparts for a run of 14 comic books.  The stories in these cartoon adventures were very similar to the actual episodes.  Most of the stories focused on Darrin's rivalry with his mother-in-law, Endora, and Samantha restricting her use of witchcraft.  Tabitha was added to the comics when she arrived concurrently on the TV series.  Possibly because of the many issues available, the comics are one of easier items to locate.  Some comics even found their way into Mexico, bearing the Spanish translation "Hechizada" on the book's cover instead of "Bewitched."

Comic book values continue to rise each year as well-established price guides release their updated editions.  In the current issue of the "Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide," the first issue of Bewitched is valued at $140 in near mint condition.  Most of the other comics, when found in a slightly worn condition, can be found for about $20-$40.  Collectors who don't want to pay the steep price tag for a #1 book might be interested in the #12 book.  It was re-issued as an exact duplicate of #1 with a much lower value of $20-$40.  The same goes for #14 - a reissue of #2.  Dell Publishing Co., Inc. was also responsible for the 1965 novel "Bewitched," a paperback written by Al Hine.  It is more difficult to find than the comics, but less desirable with a value of $25-$35.

Other Bewitched commodities in book form include our personal favorite - the Bewitched coloring book.  Published in 1965 by Gosset and Dunlap Inc., it features a lime green cover with a photo of the resourceful sorceress Samantha, conjuring up a light for Darrin's cigarette.  If a coloring book were to promote smoking today, it would surely provoke social outcry. The unique subject matter of the book's cover, combined with low distribution, has raised the value of this piece to $50-$75.  In the same year, two other books were published by Gosset and Dunlap Inc., including a Bewitched storybook and an activity book.  These are much easier to find than the coloring book and are valued at $20-$30 each.

The remaining books made for the show include a hard cover book by Whitman ($15-$20), two British annuals by World Distributors Limited ($40-$50 each), and a young adult paperback book from Europe ($35-$45).  The Whitman book, entitled "The Opposite Uncle," is the only Bewitched memorabilia item featuring the second Darrin played by Dick Sargent.  

DEMATERIALIZING MATERIALS

There are a few Bewitched items that you may never see - and for good reason.  For Bewitched  ice cream, the answer should be obvious.  During 1970, Baskin-Robbins created their "Bewitched" flavor using a blend of vanilla ice cream with orange pieces and licorice bits.  The only memento from this sweet concoction are the promotional ads and displays that feature Endora, Samantha and Tabitha brewing over an enlarged cup of the peculiar flavor.  According to Erin Murphy, the ice cream was terrible and only lasted for a month or two.

Strongly documented, but rarely seen, are the items produced by Amsco Industries Inc., a division of the Milton Bradley Company.  In 1965, they produced a Bewitched Magic Coffee Set that contained a toy coffeepot with a Bewitched logo, toaster, burner, orange juicer and several other kitchen accessories.  Amsco also manufactured the Bewitched Hi-Chair and Magic Bottle Feeding sets.  By owning any one of these sets, you would be the envy of even the most seasoned Bewitched collector.  These rare finds can command over $300 when found complete in the original packaging.

Other items that are virtually impossible to find are the 28 trading cards attributed to Topps Chewing Gum Inc. during the 1960s.  The only reports of their surfacing are from collectors finding them in uncut sheets.  No one seems to know if the cards ever made it to test marketing.  The last sheet to surface was in 1994, when 26 of the 28 titles were printed in an article for a non-sport card publication.  The unnumbered cards consist of black and white photos with blank backs.  If you're lucky enough to find any, be prepared to pay more than $200 for a single card.  

An interesting product that never materialized was a line of "Tabatha" clothing by Aimcee Wholesale Corporation.  The only known item to have been produced is a "Babycrest" tag featuring an illustration of a baby riding on a unicorn and waving a magic wand.  The tag reads "Designed Expressly for Tabatha, the BEWITCHED Baby" and includes the authorized Screen Gems, Inc. trademark.

Before the Bewitched marketing machine came to a halt, manufacturers cranked out a few other enchanting artifacts.  They include: The Samantha and Endora Game by Game Gems ($100-$150); Stymie card game and jigsaw puzzles by Milton Bradley ($50-$75); Samantha and Tabatha paper dolls by Magic Wand ($100-$150); sheet music or the show's theme by Screen Gems-Columbia Music, Inc ($35-$45); and two different writing tablets with cast photo covers ($30-$40).

Halloween costumes were produced by Ben Cooper and released on three different occasions.  The first appeared in 1965 with an all-fabric outfit featuring an illustration of Samantha printed on a yellow shawl and matching black skirt.  In 1970 the same top with a plain black skirt was packaged in a box marked "Hanna-Barbera Productions."  And lastly, in 1977, an all-vinyl outfit consisting of a similar yellow shawl and a plain red skirt was produced.  Each ensemble is valued over $100 in the box.

"OH MY STARS!"

Nearly 25 years after the show has ended we made an exciting connection that has allowed us to cross-over from TV fantasy into a "real life" encounter.  One afternoon, Bill received a phone call from Erin Murphy who was looking for a specific piece of TV memorabilia that we had written about in one of our articles.  It was exciting to speak with her and before the call ended, we arranged to meet on her next trip to California.


  CATCHING UP WITH ERIN "TABITHA" MURPHY


Erin Murphy shared the role of Tabitha Stephens on Bewitched with her fraternal twin sister, Diane, but only during the 1966-67 season.  During the middle of the following season and until the series ended in 1972, she carried the role by herself.

Tabitha was seen in a total of 100 episodes and scenes of Bewitched.  After the series ended, Erin continued acting by appearing in more than 80 TV commercials.  She later focused on raising a family and is now the mother of three young boys - Jason, age 13, Grant, 10 and Clark, 3.  She's married to singer/songwriter Eric Eden and resides with her family in Newark, Delaware. 

Erin and her sister Diane are among the few surviving cast members from Bewitched.  This small group includes Alice Ghostley (Esmeralda), Bernard Fox (Dr. Bombay), Sandra Gould (Second Gladys Kravitz), Irene Vernon (first Louise Tate), Kasey Rogers (second Louise Tate) and the twins that played Adam, Greg Mandel and David Mandel-Bloch.  [*Note 09/11/99: At the time this article was written (1997), Vernon and Gould were still with us.   Irene Vernon (Louise Tate #1) died 4/21/98 and Sandra Gould (Gladys Kravitz #2) died 7/20/99.]  We found that Erin has a vivid memory of her time spent on the show and interviewed her specifically for this article.  Here is what she had to say: 

Bill Morgan: What is your favorite memory about playing Tabitha on "Bewitched?"

Erin Murphy:
I have so many great memories from Bewitched. I suppose my favorite memories are the times spent with other cast members - reading stories with Agnes Moorehead and Dick York, going to the movies with Elizabeth.

Bill Morgan: What was it like working with Elizabeth Montgomery?

Erin Murphy:
Elizabeth Montgomery was so much fun. She was the mother of three, so she was very maternal.

Bill Morgan:
Who was the most fun on the set?

Erin Murphy:
Well, Agnes was really fun (always drawing cartoons for me) and Elizabeth had a wonderful sense of humor.

Bill Morgan:
Do you ever regret being a child actor?

Erin Murphy:
I don't regret being a child star, I have so many wonderful experiences and opportunities because of Bewitched.  My parents were always supportive about doing outside activities and I had a really normal childhood.

Bill Morgan:
Did sharing the role with your sister cause any sibling rivalry?

Erin Murphy:
I don't think there was a lot of sibling rivalry.  We're very different people and have always had different interests. We're great friends. I talk to her almost every day by e-mail.

Bill Morgan:
How do your family and friends react to your past and current recognition as a TV star?

Erin Murphy:
My family and friends don't talk about Bewitched that much. They get excited hearing about current things I'm doing. Sometimes, when I travel, my friends tell the airline people that I was Tabitha to get us bumped to first class. I would NEVER do that!  I don't usually tell people.  It seems too much like bragging.

Bill Morgan:
How different do you think your life would have been if you weren't a child actor?

Erin Murphy:
My life would be different in some minor ways if I hadn't been an actress, but I think in most ways it would be the same. I go out of my way to be nice to people, since child actors have a bad rap these days. So maybe if I hadn't been on Bewitched I'd be more of a bitch (Just kidding!)

Bill Morgan:
Did you have any childhood actor friends?

Erin Murphy:
I didn't have child actor friends when I was a child actor.  I'd have friends that I'd see at interviews, like Jodie Foster, Helen Hunt and Kim Richards, but now I have lots of friends who were former child actors.

Bill Morgan:
Do you remember how you felt when the show ended?

Erin Murphy:
I remember when the show was canceled I had very mixed feelings. I was sad and I knew I'd miss seeing all my friends on the set, but I was happy to be able to spend more time with my friends at school.

Bill Morgan:
How do you think playing Tabitha as a child has affected your life as an adult?

Erin Murphy:
I have incredible travel and business opportunities with financial rewards as well as receiving lots of "love" from the fans.

Bill Morgan:
Did you ever watch the show on TV during its original run?

Erin Murphy:
Bewitched was on past my bedtime. I'd see it during the day occasionally. I always thought it was more of an adult show.

Bill Morgan:
What were some of your favorite TV shows at the time "Bewitched" was airing?

Erin Murphy:
Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, Family Affair, That Girl, Flying Nun, etc. etc.  I watched WAY too much TV.

Bill Morgan:
Looking back did you ever think "Bewitched" would become such a timeless classic?

Erin Murphy:
I didn't have any idea that the show would still be on. Sometimes I watch current programs and I can't imagine watching them again in 30 years. Bewitched was well written, with an amazing group of actors and it is really timeless.

Bill Morgan:
Do you remember the memorabilia marketed for "Bewitched?"  And, if so, did you ever play with the toys as a child?

Erin Murphy:
I don't remember playing with any of it. But I've got photos of me with the paper dolls and a photo of my room with my Tabatha doll.

Bill Morgan:
Did your mother save anything for you?

Erin Murphy: My mom saved a lot of things - photos, magazines, posters. She didn't save the Tabatha doll or the Tabatha paper dolls.

Bill Morgan:
Do you currently own any "Bewitched" memorabilia?

Erin Murphy:
I have a lot of memorabilia. I've been acquiring it for the last year. I have two of the Tabatha dolls, paper dolls, comic books, all the story books, Stymie card game, board game, Halloween costume and lots of magazines, including TV Guides and the Nick-at-Nite Bewitched watch.

Bill Morgan:
Have you read any of the Bewitched comics or storybooks?

Erin Murphy:
I've read the comics. I've been meaning to read the Al Hine novel or the Opposite Uncle, but it's not really the kind of thing I'd read on a plane.

Bill Morgan:
What is your most prized Bewitched collectible?

Erin Murphy:
I think the cards and letters from cast members, the jewelry that Liz and Agnes gave me as well as the photos.

Bill Morgan:
If you were in charge of marketing Bewitched memorabilia, what would you have created?

Erin Murphy: A Bewitched lunchbox would have been very cool!

Bill Morgan:
Do you have any memories of items that may have been shown to you or talked about that were never produced?

Erin Murphy:
They were going to design a line of Tabitha clothing.

Bill Morgan:
Do you collect or have any interest in other TV memorabilia?

Erin Murphy:
I just started collecting this year. I attend a lot of memorabilia shows with other actors from the '60s and '70s and I try to find an item from their show to get it autographed.

Bill Morgan:
Do you ever watch "Bewitched" on TV now?

Erin Murphy:
I watch Bewitched occasionally when I flip the channel and find it's one of my favorite episodes.

Bill Morgan:
What is your favorite episode?

Erin Murphy:
I like the episodes where other kids were there, but my favorite was when I turned Amy into a butterfly.  (Episode # 151: "I Don't Want to Be a Toad, I Want to Be a Butterfly")

Bill Morgan:
Do your kids watch "Bewitched?"

Erin Murphy:
Yes. They think it's pretty cool!

Bill Morgan:
What does your husband think about your work on the show?

Erin Murphy:
He loves it. His family used to make home movies of Bewitched and he played Tabitha!!

Bill Morgan:
When the TV series "Tabitha" was developed, were you ever contacted to play the role instead of Lisa Hartman?

Erin Murphy:
No, Tabitha was produced in 1976 and I was only twelve. The producers wanted Tabitha to be in her twenties. I brought in photos for the producer (they were used in the opening sequence). It said something like "Tabitha grew up with freckles & braces"; I didn't have either, so they had an artist draw freckles and braces on my photo.

Bill Morgan:
Did you ever watch "Tabitha?"

Erin Murphy:
I watched it when it originally aired and I haven't seen it since. I recently saw it listed in a book about the worst TV programs of all time.

Bill Morgan:
What are some of your current activities?

Erin Murphy:
I'm married with three boys, I own a company called Bewitched Memorabilia and I've just been approached about doing a new series in 1998.  I was asked to do a pilot for a new magazine type show, similar to Entertainment Tonight (I think).  I'm meeting with the producer in January.

Bill Morgan:
What do you think about the new "Bewitched" memorabilia being produced? 

Erin Murphy:
I love the Nick-at-Nite watch.  I think the Madame Alexander "Samantha" dolls are cute and like the fact that they gave her a heart necklace.  I haven't seen the fashion doll by Exclusive Toy Products in person, but from the photo, the doll doesn't have much of a resemblance to Liz.  The box looks great though.

Bill Morgan:
If you could have changed anything about the show, what would it have been?

Erin Murphy:
I wanted more to do!  After Bewitched, kids' parts on other shows got so much better. There were many episodes where I'd be sent upstairs to change Adam and I never came back.

Bill Morgan:
If you could be on any television show right now, which would it be and who would you play?

Erin Murphy:
I like Aaron Spelling. I wish I'd done Love Boat or Fantasy Island (very campy!). Of the current shows like, Melrose Place, Friends (not ER, I love the show but wouldn't want to say "15cc of epi stat!!") I wouldn't choose to be an existing character, I'd want to play someone new. It might be fun to do an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I don't think that I could play cousin Tabitha though, because it's a different studio.

Bill Morgan:
Do fans recognize you as "Tabitha" now that you're an adult?

Erin Murphy:
I'm recognized all the time. I never know if it's from a current talk show or from Bewitched. The fans are great!! I love the fact that kids today know the show as well as their parents and grandparents. It always surprises me when fans know more about the show than I do. I had a drag queen come see me once, because he needed help perfecting his "Serena". That was fun!


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From the publication Toy Trader.

Bill Morgan is the co-author of
Collector’s Guide to TV Toys and Memorabilia — 2nd Edition and runs the TVTOYS.com web site.
Copyright (c) TVTOYS.com, Antique Trader Publications, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

 

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