On December 24, 1970, the “Bewitched” episode titled “Sisters at Heart,” aired on television. The episode, which came out 50 years ago, addressed racism.
Erin Murphy was the star on the television sitcom, “Bewitched” when it tackled racism on one of its episodes. While the US is currently dealing with protests against racial inequality, systemic racism, and police brutality, the episode seemed fitting.
Murphy recalled the Christmas episode stating: “I remember the entire process of that episode, because it was completely different than usual.” She explained how the episode was written by a fifth-period 10th grade English class from Thomas Jefferson High School.
Erin Murphy at the TV Land Awards on March 2, 2003, in Hollywood, California | Photo: Robert Mora/Getty Images
MURPHY’S TAKE ON THE EPISODE
The actress shared: “I love the episode as well. I didn’t even realize all the political implications associated with the episode.” She recalled how she was still a “baby” when the 1965 Watts Riots occurred, and the episode only aired “five years later.”
During the episode, Murphy’s character, Tabitha Stephens’s friendship with and her Lisa Wilson (played by Venetta Rogers) came into focus. The duo got upset when they were bullied for wanting to be sisters.
THE PREMISE OF THE EPISODE
Their bullies told them they couldn’t get their wish because Tabitha was White and Lisa was Black. Tabitha ended up using a spell to try and make her and Lisa sisters.
She develops black polka-dots on her face and Lisa has white polka-dots on her face too. However, the little girl manages to reverse the spell before Lisa’s parents come to the Stephens’ home to pick her up.
DEALING WITH RACISM
The same episode also tackled how the adults dealt with racism. An advertising client who was representing a million-dollar account happened to visit the Stephens’ household.
He met Darrin (Dick Sargent) who is Tabitha’s father. The client assumed Darrin was married to a Black woman who happened to be Lisa’s mother (Janee Michelle).
DARRIN CALLED “UNSTABLE”
The man informs Larry Tate (David White) that he doesn’t want to have Darrin on the account because of his own racist beliefs calling Tabitha’s father “unstable.” White ends up telling the client that he won’t work with a racist business.
CASTING A SPELL
Samantha, Darrin’s wife, invokes a spell that causes the man to see everyone (including himself) as Black. In the end, the spell wears off and the man repents and changes from a racist.
MURPHY’S ROLE ON THE SHOW
Murphy and her fraternal twin, Diane Murphy, were both cast in the single role of Tabitha in the show’s third season. Diane had to drop out leaving her sister to play the role alone for 103 episodes.
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