On January 13, 1966, Samantha and Darrin Stephens welcomed their first child, Tabitha, into the world on “Bewitched.” TV audiences excitedly tuned in to the episode titled, “And Then There Were Three,” to see what would happen when the witch-turned-housewife gave birth to a baby with her mere mortal husband. Airing from 1964 to 1972, “Bewitched” was the longest-running supernatural-themed sitcom in the 1960s-1970s era. The show also contained an empowered feminist message, reflecting the women’s liberation movement that was growing as the show become a popular hit. As Samantha summoned up magical powers with her signature nose wiggle, the “typical housewife” proved to be not so typical after all. Challenging the notion that women were the “weaker sex,” Samantha proved to be a much more powerful force than her husband.
The basic premise of “Bewitched” is that Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) vows to give up her life as a witch to become a suburban housewife. However, on each episode, she ends up using her magical powers to save her husband Darrin (Dick York) and herself from various shenanigans. Throughout the show, her mother Endora (Agnes Moorehead), actively works to upend her daughter’s marriage to Darrin (or as Endora mocks by calling him “Derwood”). Endora is baffled by the fact that her daughter opted to mask her magic in order to cavort with mortals and do household chores all day.
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Audiences had already spent a season getting to know and love the Stephens. Knowing that Samantha was most likely going to have a child who shared her magical powers further excited “Bewitched” watchers. Aside from introducing the adorable addition to the Stephens family, the episode was significant because Endora and her son-in-law enjoyed a non-adversarial moment together for the first time. Emotional about the birth of her grandchild, Endora and Darrin embraced and even shed a few joyful tears together. But of course, madness ensued when Darrin became convinced that Endora had cast a spell on their newborn, making her appear to be an adult woman.
Multiple infants actresses played Tabitha until the show’s creators settled on one actress for the part. First played by Cynthia Black, Tabitha was then performed by two different sets of twins, until choosing Erin Murphy to be a full-time Tabitha. In fact, Erin and her fraternal twin sister, Diane, were both picked to both play the role of Tabitha, but that scenario changed when the twins began to look less alike.
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A much-loved show for over a decade, “Bewitched” is far from progressive by today’s standards in its portrayal of women. However, by creating a fantasy world where women were secretly more powerful than men, “Bewitched” led the way in portraying more empowered TV characters. Even though the “And Then There Were Three” episode was on the surface just about Samantha giving birth, audiences were all in on the secret that baby Tabitha was born with her own supernatural powers. (Insert signature Samantha nose wiggle.)