Submitted by CosmosCotillion


American Baby
Issue Number 10
October 1966


  Will The Real Tabatha Please Stand Up
   By Stephanie Murphy

I suppose all mothers think their babies are beautiful and talented---I know I thought our twins Erin and Diane were, but I never expected that they would go into show business. And I certainly never thought that they'd land their first acting job on their first birthday---but that's exactly what they did.


The Murphy Family
Dan, Erin, Diane and Stephanie

My husband and I have been married for three years. The twins were our first children and almost as soon as they were born, people said I ought to get them on television. When I began taking them out with me, agents often stopped me on the street and in the supermarkets and offered to find acting work for them. There are very strict laws in California about the number of hours a child may appear in front of a camera, and so producers who are planning to film a scene with a baby in it prefer to use identical twins---it gives them twice as much time.

At first we didn't think seriously of getting them into television, but when people kept suggesting it we talked it over and decided to give it a try. I didn't really believe anything was going to come of our decision, so I just looked in the phone book and picked an agent who had an office close to where we live. I went there one day with the babies, about a week before their first birthday. Much to my surprise, the agent was quite interested. In fact, she called us the next week to tell me she had set up an interview on the twins' birthday. It was for a commercial, and they got the job. Quite a first birthday for Erin and Diane! They went on their first interview, and landed their first acting job.

After that the twins were used for three other commercials, and in one of them Erin had her first line of dialogue. It was one word---she looked at a picture of herself and said "baby". It wasn't much of a line, but we were as proud of her as if it had been a great dramatic scene.

A few days later the agent called to tell me that babies were needed to play the part of Tabatha on "Bewitched". I went down to the Screen Gems studios and sat in a waiting room full of mothers with twin girls. After a while our names were called and we went upstairs to a big office that was full of television executives. I was a little scared, but the girls weren't---somebody gave them some bottle caps to play with, and then they spotted a rocking chair across the room and made a run for that. Most of our "interview" amounted to everybody watching Erin and Diane play on the rocking chair.

Nobody said anything to us then to indicate that they liked the girls or wanted them to be on the series, but a few days later they called the agent and asked us to come down to the studio again. And a few weeks after that, not long after their first birthday, the girls went to work in their first episode of "Bewitched".

Now our ordinary working day starts at about 7:30 in the morning when the girls get up and come out into the kitchen to eat breakfast. While they're eating I put their hair up in pin curls for them, and then they go outside and play in their sand box until the car from the studio comes for us. One of the girls works in the morning and one in the afternoon. I've learned that there are different kind of scenes each of them does best.


If it's something with a lot of lively activity in it I usually have Diane do it---she seems to be the more energetic. If it's quieter, something where the baby has to stand still or lie down or sit on somebody's lap, then I give that scene to Erin---she's the one with patience.


Normally I stay on the set with whichever girl is working, and we have a babysitter who stays with the other one. The girls have a room of their own at the studio where they can take naps, and most of their favorite toys are there---they have puzzles and books and games to play with, and the babysitter takes them on walks around the lot where they look at everything that's going on and catch rides on the little motor carts the stars and executives use. They get a lot of play time when they're not working, but the "work" is what they think is the most fun. They'd both rather be on the set, playing scenes in front of the camera, than anywhere else.


The advantages of having children in television far outweigh the disadvantages. For one thing, the twins have already earned enough money to take care of their college education. And being around the studio is great fun for them. They love it, and they get an enormous amount of care and attention---besides myself and the babysitter, there's a full-time social worker provided by the studio, and all the people in the "Bewitched" cast play with them all the time. They especially love Dick York and Elizabeth Montgomery---but they always call them by their character names, Darrin and Samantha.

As time goes on and Tabatha learns to talk, the girls will have more lines in the scripts. Usually when one of them is going to speak a line I rehearse it with her the day before. I tell her she's going to play with Darrin and Samantha, and when Darrin leaves she's going to wave at him and say "Goodbye, Daddy." We do that again in the morning, and so far they've always delivered their lines perfectly. On occasion they have such fun in a scene that they say something nobody had planned. More often than not, when that happens the director leaves it that way.


The twins seem to love what they're doing; they're happy, and that's the best way I know of judging whether it's right for them to be on television. But my husband and I are not making any plans for their future. When they're old enough we'll put them in school, and after that they can decide for themselves if they want to continue acting. It will be up to them.

Right now they seem to be just ordinary, healthy girls in every way. A few days ago, however, they were playing in the back yard, and I saw Erin throw a paper cup up in the air, point at it and say, "Fly! Fly!" It didn't fly, I'm happy to report, and she didn't seem disappointed. Neither was I---they're learning a lot, but I'm glad they're not picking up any witchcraft from their work.