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."
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.
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.
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: