In episode 54, which debuted on January 13, 1966, audiences around the world were introduced to Darrin and Samantha's baby girl. While there was some confusion over what the baby's name and birthrights would be during Samantha's pregnancy, audiences were captivated by this new element of the story, and would later become bewitched by this new addition to the Stephens family.
Darrin and Sam in the Maternity Ward
On many romantic comedy shows, the birth of a child signifies the beginning of the end to the series. But this was clearly not the case with little Tabatha (later changed to T-a-b-i-t-h-a in the credits) Stephens. Audiences loved Samantha Stephens, and a younger version of her was just what audiences needed to stay interested in Darrin and Samantha's differences and how they would work through them together.
Darrin and Samantha with Their Baby in 54
Also, Elizabeth Montgomery was expecting her second child, and had already worked through one hidden pregnancy with her son, William. Now that Samantha was no longer a newlywed, network censors agreed that it was appropriate to write this pregnancy into the script. So, Tabatha's birth coincided with that of Montgomery and director William Asher's second son, Robert Deverel Asher, who was born on October 5, 1965. Not one to miss an opportunity, Elizabeth not only went back to work as the new mother as she was in real life, she also launched a second part for herself on the show as Samantha's wild cousin, Serena.
Serena's Got a Wacky Lullaby for Tabitha in 128
Although most people associate Erin Murphy with the role of Tabitha, there have actually been ten witchly Tabithas on television since 1966. Cynthia Black, who was two and a half weeks old when she appeared on the show, was Tabitha in episode 54 .
Cynthia Black as Tabatha in 54
Then, twins Heidi and Laura Gentry took over the role the following week. The Gentry girls were born on August 16, 1965.
One of the Gentry Sisters as Tabatha in 55
A few weeks later the role of Tabatha was given to slightly older twins Tamar and Julie Young, and they stayed for the remainder of the second season. The Young girls were born on June 24, 1965.
One of the Young Sisters as Tabatha in 62
The last set of twins, Erin and Diane Murphy, became cast members at the start of the third season. The Murphy girls (fraternal twins) were born on June 17, 1964, so Tabitha had physically aged more than a year between seasons 2 and 3. This was necessary as Tabatha's role was going to expand once it was announced that she was indeed a witch.
Three Sets of Twins that Played Tabatha
As Erin and Diane grew, it became more apparent that they were two different girls. So during the fourth season, Erin took over as Tabatha by herself and the spelling of her name was changed to be as it was pronounced. Erin seemed more at ease in front of the camera, and looked more like her TV mommy, Elizabeth Montgomery. However, Diane continued to appear on the show in such roles as Annabelle in 178 (she's wearing a wig and gets punched in the stomach by bratty Danny Bonaduce's character), Raggedy Ann in 219, and one of the kids that Esmeralda entertains with witchcraft in 243.
Diane Murphy as Raggedy Ann in 219
After 21 episodes, the viewers were let in on the secret in #75, "Nobody's Perfect" --Tabatha was a witch. A week later, Darrin was to learn that it would be "like mother, like daughter" in his house. The dramatic scene where Darrin says "It's not...what's-her-name?" and brings Samantha to tears on their anniversary as she defends her daughter's heritage and comforts her husband is one of the most touching moments in the show's eight year run.
A Press Photo of Dick York Diapering a Baby
The "Is She or Isn't She?" hype that ABC created around Tabatha's birth is one of the most eagerly awaited TV moments in television history. In fact, a Tabatha vinyl doll and paper doll set were two of the few licensed Bewitched items made in 1966.
As noted in the February 1967 edition of Screen Stories ("Elizabeth Montgomery: The Risks I take with My Marriage" by Mike Connolly), Montogomery describes how the name Tabitha was chosen :
Elizabeth Montgomery and Erin Murphy in 76
Once it was established that Tabitha (with an "I" now) was a witch and that Darrin loved her just the same, a whole new set of problems arose in the Stephens house. They had to teach Tabitha that she "mustn't twitch" around her mortal grandparents and try to get Samantha's other-worldly relatives to respect their decision to raise their daughter as a mortal. In episode 77, Endora and the aunts come to test Tabitha's powers. The audience finds out that Tabitha's powers are advanced for her age, and Samantha's relatives are horrified that this gifted witch is going to be raised as a mortal.
Enchantra, and Hagatha Upset that
Tabatha begins experimenting with magic by using her finger to twitch her nose, as she's seen her mother do many times. She also develops wishcraft, which she inadvertently uses much to her father's chagrin. She can make long distance calls on a toy telephone and bring spooky characters from a Halloween story to life. She also had no problem distinguishing Samantha from Serena and understanding Adam's baby talk when no one else could.
Tabitha only lost her powers once on Bewitched, when Samantha refused to end her marriage with Darrin at the Witches Council's request. She also popped herself into two storybooks: Hansel and Gretel and Jack and the Beanstalk. This delighted children watching the show, and sparked creativity, imagination, and a new joy in books in much the same way that the Harry Potter book series has done today.
On October 16, 1969, Tabitha's brother, Adam, was born (at the same time that Montgomery and Asher welcomed daughter Rebecca into their lives). Tabitha didn't like her new brother, and did mortal sibling rivalry tactics like refusing to eat, blaming him for things, and running away from home. She also did witchy things like creating her very own Samantha to spend more time with her and turning herself into a raisin cookie at her Grandma Stephens's house. Since the Stephens could not hire a regular babysitter for their "gifted" children, viewers got to meet some interesting caregivers for Tabitha and Adam. There was the yoo-hoo maid Esmeralda; Elspeth the nanny; Clarissa the sheepdog; Max the toy soldier; Aunt Hagatha; and Aunt Clara.
Samantha, Darrin, Tabitha, and Adam Stephens in 1970
Eventually, Tabitha went on to meet Mary the Good Fairy when she lost a tooth and started attending the local mortal Towners Elementary School. With her "grandmama" Endora's help, she aced the second grade entrance exam and momentarily became an Olympic-grade ice skater. She also proved she wasn't one to be bullied in school when she turned a classmate into a bullfrog. She abandoned the finger-assisted nose twitch for her own crossed finger wiggle to manifest her magic. Tabitha spoke to the younger generation of Bewitched viewers and breathed new life into the show at a turning point in Darrin and Samantha's relationship.
After Bewitched ended in 1972, fans wondered if they saw the last of Tabitha Stephens. But that was not the case. Three more Tabithas came to the small screen.
Originally aired in 1972 as part of "The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie", Tabitha and Adam and the Clown Family featured Cindy Eilbacher as the voice of the animated Tabitha Stephens. Cindy can be seen in the Bewitched episode # 22, "Eye of the Beholder" as "Kimmie".
Cindy Eilbacher as "Kimmie"
Dark-haired Liberty Williams played Tabatha Stephens (with an "A") in a 1976 pilot called Tabatha. This show never found an outlet and was quickly forgotten. However, in 1977, William Asher helped to develop another spin-off called Tabitha, which starred Lisa Hartman as the young, beautiful sorceress Tabitha Stephens. This show was picked up by ABC and aired for one season (12 episodes). In this show, Tabitha worked as a TV producer whose witchcraft was tempered by a Darrinesque mortal Adam (not keeping with the original show's storyline) and a bawdy Aunt Minerva. Darrin, Samantha, and even Grandmama and Grandpapa, never appeared on the show. Despite the excellent casting of Hartman, Robert Urich, and Mel Stewart, and guest appearances by the Kravitzes (Gould and Tobias), this show was not a hit. Today it has a cult following and still continues to run on television occasionally.
Lisa Hartman Plays Tabitha in 1977
That brings the total number of Tabithas on TV to ten. With two Darrins, two Louises, two Gladyses, two Franks, and ten Tabithas, fans of Bewitched prove to be a tolerant lot. Only time will tell if they will ever be able to accept another Samantha...