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From TV screen to ranch dreams

‘Bewitched’ child star moves to SCV in search of balance between set, stables

Posted: August 25, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 25, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Erin Murphy sits with alpacas Bella, left, and Moorea at home on Tranquil Veranda Ranch in Santa Clarita.

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Raising an index finger and placing it on her nose, Erin Murphy wiggled her nose back and forth.

For fans of the “Bewitched” TV series that first aired in 1964, it was a familiar gesture.

That’s one way TV’s mom-and-daughter witch team, played by Elizabeth Montgomery and Murphy as daughter Tabitha, conjured up magic in the popular comedy series, Murphy confided.

“I just wiggled my nose with my finger,” said the Santa Clarita Valley resident and child actress. “They just edited it. The special effects were really advanced for that time.”

Ever since her TV debut, Murphy says, she has always shared two passions: animals and entertaining.

Previously from a small ranch property in Calabasas, Murphy and her husband scoured California for the perfect plot of land to expand their ranch and filming endeavors.

A year ago, Murphy and her family found Tranquil Veranda Ranch on San Francisquito Canyon Road. With a constant breeze that pushes through the summer heat, the ranch is perfect, she says.

“Santa Clarita had it all: 10 acres, 35-year-old trees shading the property, great schools and a film-friendly community,” Murphy said.

Wearing a turquoise summer dress and wedges, Murphy crossed her front porch, looking out on the entirety of the ranch. With an equestrian center, stables for boarding, a flock of alpacas and a property perfect for ranch filming, the “TV Ranch” location serves many purposes for Murphy and her family.

On-screen life

Before she turned 2, Murphy started acting on one of the most successful TV shows of its time, which ran for eight seasons.

“(‘Bewitched’) was a great opportunity and such a wonderful experience,” Murphy said.

Since its pilot episode, “Bewitched” has never left the air, showing reruns for nearly 50 years and touching every generation with the show’s charming magic and easy-to-love humor.

Aside from a brief hiatus to be a “normal girl” in high school, Murphy never left the entertainment industry, she says.

She has been in more than 120 commercials, including one with former President Ronald Reagan when he was just an actor.

As an adult, Murphy worked in various sectors of the business as a casting director, stunt double, host and correspondent. She appeared on E!, A&E, Oxygen and the TV Guide Channel as a national spokeswoman for TVLand.

Currently, Murphy is returning to acting, taking a role in an upcoming TV production.

The ranch itself serves as another connection to the business where Murphy grew up. TV Ranch has hosted made-for-TV movies, commercials and photo shoots since Murphy moved in.

“We also use the guest house as an inn for people from the productions,” Murphy said, “and make the experience sort of a cross between a dude ranch and a fitness thing. We get them out there shoveling in the stables.”

Ranch life

For Murphy, a hybrid life between the ranch and the set has always been the goal.

“When I was a girl, I wanted to grow up on a ranch,” Murphy said. “I always loved animals.”

And a flock of alpacas was an easy choice, she said.

“My son is autistic, and the alpaca is the perfect animal for him,” Murphy said.

The alpaca is a calm, docile animal, Murphy said, and its padded feet, similar to a dog’s paw, quell the fear of kicking that accompanies horse care.

“Sometimes, I sit out in the pen with them and read,” Murphy said. “They just come and lay right next to me in the sun.”

Alpaca fiber arguably makes the perfect wool, too, Murphy said.

“It’s soft, fireproof, waterproof and doesn’t contain lanolin like wool — so people aren’t allergic,” she said.
After an annual shearing, the alpaca fiber is spun into yarn for her line of clothing accessories, Erin Murphy Knits, or she sells the fibers in a growing market.

“I remember Agnes Moorehead — the woman who played my grandmother on ‘Bewitched’ — would knit on set, and I thought it was only a hobby for grandmothers,” Murphy said. “But it’s become really popular to knit on set, even with the young actors.”

Aside from the alpacas, Murphy cares for horses and runs an equestrian center, providing lessons and space for boarding.

Still navigating overturned dirt and ranch terrain in her wedges, Murphy recalled a film industry event where Jane Fonda picked a piece of hay out of Murphy’s hair.

“I’m out there shoveling horse poop in the morning, and I’m out on the red carpet at night,” she said, throwing her arms out to mock a red carpet pose and laughing.



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