Larry Hagman Was Drunk
Larry Hagman was more than just a demanding diva – he was a belligerent drunk who urinated on furniture on-set when he didn’t get his way. In her autobiography, Barbara Eden went into more detail about Larry’s crazy behavior. “He started every day at the studio drinking vast quantities of champagne,” Barbara wrote, “and in between scenes, he sequestered himself in his dressing room, smoking pot and downing yet more champagne, all in the interests of maintaining a calm serenity.”
Barbara Eden Was Pregnant During Filming
Barbara Eden was irresistible in her role as the 2,000 year old genie on the series. She became famous for her mesmerizing appeal in Jeannie’s trademark outfit: pink silk harem pants with a pink bralette and matching vest. However, Barbara was hiding a very big secret during the first season of filming, which was hard to hide in her revealing costume – she was pregnant! Her iconic costume was temporarily modified to hide her growing belly, and viewers were none the wiser!
No Belly Button Allowed!
Speaking of Jeannie’s trademark costume, at the time it pushed boundaries in terms of what was considered appropriate for women to wear on TV. Strangely, Barbara’s almost completely exposed torso (save for skimpy bralette) was fine – the issue was her belly button! Network censors pushed the executives and producers into making sure Barbara’s navel was always covered, threatening massive fines if the policy wasn’t enforced. In one episode, Barbara’s waistband slipped, and the film had to be manually altered afterwards.
A Staff Writer Was Double-Dipping
A major criticism of I Dream Of Jeannie was its similarity to another sitcom with a supernatural blonde bombshell which ran at the same time – Bewitched. There was quite a bit of bad blood between the two shows, which we’ll get into further in this list. One early incident in the Bewitched vs. Jeannie war came when it was discovered that writer James S. Henerson was writing for both series at the same time! He was immediately fired from Jeannie.
Continuing the feud between Bewitched and Jeannie, Jeannie had an episode which featured Tony and Rodger training a chimpanzee named Sam at NASA headquarters. The name “Sam” for the chimp wasn’t an accident – it was supposed to be a direct jab at Bewitched, as the title character was named Samantha. The insult was followed up by very public accusations from the Bewitched writing staff that the Jeannie writers had stolen many of their ideas and borrowed plots from the series.
The Stars Were Cursed
Call it the curse of the genie! Many of the shows main actors suffered from bad luck both during and after the series. We’ve already discussed Larry Hagman’s substance abuse problems. But did you know that Barbara Eden’s only son tragically died at the young age of 35? Matthew Ansara, who she had with her first husband Michael Ansara, struggled with addiction for years. After a period of sobriety, he sadly overdosed. Barbara has publicly said she’ll never stop mourning.
Jeannie’s Hair Was Fake
Barbara Eden was known as much for her smoldering good looks in Jeannie’s iconic outfit as much as her acting. But did you know that her trademark hairstyle was not all natural? To achieve Jeannie’s distinctive high ponytail, hairstylists on set used hair pieces and hair falls. Barbara said in an interview, “The hair I had to get used to. They practically nailed it on top of my head because my real hair was only four or five inches long.”
Most of the time, when you work somewhere for several years, being fired results in a respectful conversation and a severance package. However, this wasn’t the case for Larry Hagman. He went on vacation for a few weeks and when he returned to the studio lot to grab something from his trailer, the guard wouldn’t let him in. The guard told Larry that Jeannie was no longer in production. A pretty bad way to find out that your job is gone!
The 1960s were a different time and TV was more conservative than it is today. Although the romantic tension between Jeannie and Captain Tony was undeniable, network censors made sure the show’s overtones weren’t too provocative. In order to make sure no viewer was scandalized, the unmarried Jeannie and Tony were never alone together in a room with the door closed. And if things got too steamy – poof! Jeannie disappeared at the right moment in a cloud of pink smoke.
Jeannie Was Supposed To Be A Brunette
It’s hard to imagine Jeannie as a brunette, but since I Dream Of Jeannie came on the air after Bewitched debuted, producers were initially wary of casting a blonde in the role of Jeannie. They wanted to avoid unfavorable comparisons to the other show. Many actresses debuted, but only Barbara Eden nailed the part. Reluctantly, the producers gave her the role – after pleading with her to dye her hair brunette. Barbara held strong and refused to darken her golden locks.
Larry Was Scared Of The Lion
Despite having liquid courage from his daily drinking, Larry Hagman was a big scaredy cat when it came to dealing with the lion on set. Barbara Eden had previously worked with lions in films before starring on I Dream Of Jeannie, so she was naturally more comfortable around the majestic creature. She encouraged Larry to “make friends with the lion,” to which he responded with expletives. Larry made himself scarce whenever the lion was around, trying his best to avoid it.
Marriage Killed The Show
Barbara Eden was majorly pissed off when she heard producers were planning to marry the two main characters on the series. Barbara correctly assumed that one of the major factors causing viewers to tune in was the romantic tension between Jeannie and Captain Tony. She knew that a marriage between the two would wreck that important aspect of the show, and she was right – within one season, ratings plummeted and the show was subsequently cancelled. Producers should’ve listened to her!
Barbara And Larry Reunited
The show’s leading lady and man were reunited nearly two decades after I Dream Of Jeannie went off the air…surprisingly on the 1980s prime time soap opera Dallas. Larry Hagman was playing patriarch J.R. Ewing on the hit series. He insisted producers invite Barbara Eden for a several episode guest starring role. There were coy references to their previous incarnations on Jeannie – when Barbara’s character was asked for her married name, she answered “Nelson” which was Captain Tony’s last name.
Hayden Was In The Closet
Hayden Rorke was known for playing many tough guy roles in his acting career, including Horace Banning on Bonanza and Dr. Alfred E. Bellows on I Dream Of Jeannie. You might be surprised to learn that Hayden was gay. Barbara Eden wrote in her autobiography that Hayden was “unashamedly gay…he and his partner, director Justus Addiss lived together for many years in Studio City, along with their menagerie of dogs.” He never discussed his orientation publicly, but is remembered for his career.
Barbara Was Pursued By John F. Kennedy
There’s no argument that Barbara Eden was drop dead gorgeous – and she had many famous admirers. In her autobiography, Barbara wrote about several famous men who approached her. Elvis Presley asked her for a date. Even more surprisingly, in a New York airport in 1957, Barbara was approached by a handler of then senator and future president John F. Kennedy. The handler asked if she’d like to meet John – she said yes. He gave her a note with his phone number.
Reruns Increased The Show’s Popularity /post_page_title]
Despite its massive success both internationally and domestically in syndication, you might be surprised to learn that I Dream Of Jeannie wasn’t exactly a smash hit during its original 5 year run on TV. It was always overshadowed by the more widely watched Bewitched. While Jeannie was liked by many people, it was hardly the type of prime time must watch TV event that we would have thought. It was abruptly cancelled after ratings dropped in the 5th season.
The Blue Djinn, played by Michael Ansara, was the evil genie who trapped Jeannie in her bottle for 2,000 years after she spurned his romantic advances. But many viewers didn’t know that Michael and Barbara were married to each other in real life! Michael also made another separate guest appearance on I Dream Of Jeannie, but as a completely different character – ancient Hawaiian King Kamehameha. Because of his complexion, Michael often played Native Americans, but he was actually born in Lebanon.
It Was Just A Jim Beam Bottle
The ornate bottle in which Jeannie had been tapped, and sometimes liked to return to, has become an undeniable pop culture icon. So it may surprise you to learn that the expensive looking bottle was nowhere near an antique artifact- it was really just an old 1964 Christmas Jim Beam bourbon decanter that a staff member had hand painted with a gold motif! The show’s producer had spotted the bottle in a liquor store window and impulsively purchased it.
Jeannie’s Costume Is In The Smithsonian
Speaking of props from the show being considered pop culture history, Jeannie’s original costume is now safely enshrined in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Barbara Eden held on to the trademark outfit for more than five decades, even bolding donning it at the age of 78 during an AIDS charity event in Europe with former president Bill Clinton. But Barbara decided that she wanted to donate the costume to America’s most prominent museum for posterity. We appreciate it!
Jeannie’s Legacy Shocks Barbara
Since the show was never a major success during its 5 seasons on the air, Barbara Eden is surprised that the legacy of I Dream Of Jeannie has lasted for over half a century, with no sign of letting up. Some actors get upset about being forever remembered as one character they played, but Barbara has no qualms about being known solely as Jeannie. Barbara has said many times that she loves being approached by fans and appreciates the attention.
No Theme Song In The First Season
The classic theme song of I Dream Of Jeannie is every bit as memorable at Jeannie’s bottle or her trademark outfit. Everyone knows and loves the opening credits, with its kitschy 60s animation and one of the catchiest theme song tunes ever. But you may be shocked to learn that the theme song so closely associated with the show wasn’t part of the show until its second season! The original theme song was an instrumental jazz waltz – impossible to imagine now.
Phil Spector Had A Cameo
Nowadays, Phil Spector is best known for being behind bars after a murder conviction in 2009. Before that, he was a legendary record producer who worked with such industry giants as The Righteous Brothers and The Beatles (as well as John Lennon and Paul McCartney individually). He also pioneered the now standard “Wall of Sound” technique in recording studios. But you probably didn’t know he had a cameo as a music producer on I Dream Of Jeannie in 1968!
The Cast Was At The Apollo 11 Launch
In 1969, the Apollo 11 spacecraft was launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Barbara Eden and the cast of Jeannie were there at the launch to wish the astronauts well! The spaceflight was the first one to successfully land two humans on the moon and return them to Earth safely. Astronaut Neil Armstrong’s famous words “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” are still heard today and perfectly represent the immense significance of this historic moment.
Sammy Davis Jr. And Larry Clashed
Legendary crooner and Rat Pack member Sammy Davis Jr. made a career in the public eye when overt racism in America was at its peak. The iconic singer was known for keeping his cool even when dealing with openly hostile crowds – so it comes as a surprise that during his guest appearance on Jeannie, he and Larry Hagman nearly came to blows! Apparently, Larry was drunk on set (as usual) and repeatedly insulted Sammy, who almost walked off the set.
The Show Was Emmy Nominated
Most of us remember Jeannie for its slapstick comedy, Barbara Eden’s charms, and the implausible scenario (a genie and astronaut falling in love) that could only work on TV in the 60s. But you probably didn’t know that the show’s scripts were good enough to be nominated for an Emmy Award! In 1967, writer Sidney Sheldon was nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. He didn’t win, but this should make you rethink about the writing quality of Jeannie!
Jeannie’s Backstory Was Inconsistent
Many people don’t realize how inconsistent Jeannie’s backstory was on the show! In the pilot, Captain Tony finds a bottle on a deserted island and Jeannie is released. She explains that as a human woman, she spurned the romantic advances of the powerful, evil genie the Blue Djinn. Because she wouldn’t agree to marry him, he turned her into a genie and trapped her inside the bottle for 2,000 years. Later on, writers said Jeannie had always been a genie.
Black And White vs. Color
Did you know that Jeannie was the last show ever filmed in black and white for network television? Creator Sidney Sheldon begged the studio executives to do the first season in color, but they thought the show wouldn’t last. Sidney was so desperate to have color that he offered to pay for color film out of his own pocket. Producers told him not to waste his money. Sidney had the last laugh, though, because the show was a hit!
NASA Was Portrayed Wrong
On I Dream Of Jeannie, the many male characters were all classic military men. Jeannie’s love interest Captain Tony was a NASA astronaut, but the insignia he wore as well as the way he interacted with higher ups at NASA implied a strong military culture. In reality, NASA was always much more scientifically oriented and was never run like a military base with people barking orders and saying “yes sir!” However, we’ll forgive this classic show for the oversight.
The Magic Was Inconsistent
When I Dream of Jeannie was in its infancy, Barbara Eden activated her genie powers in a distinctive style – she would fold her eyes, and subsequently flutter her eyes in a particular pattern. But this didn’t work for network executives, and they told writers to change it. Later in the series, Jeannie would nod her head and blink once. Of course, this drew comparison to Bewitched, as the show’s main character would wiggle and twitch her nose to use magic.
Larry Hagman Was A Nightmare
Larry Hagman, who played Astronaut Captain Tony Nelson, was so difficult to work with that producers seriously considered cutting him from the show, despite him being the leading man. Read on to find out more about his outrageous on-set antics…