Barbara Eden

Submitted by on Oct 4, 2015

I Dream of Jennie’s Barbara Eden: ‘Larry Hagman was a charming man’

WORKING with the future JR Ewing was pure genius, and the magic still continues today – as Barbara, 83, tells Tiffany Rose

PUBLISHED: 00:01, Sun, Oct 12, 2014

Actress Barbara Eden co-starred in I Dream of Jennie with future JR Ewing Larry Hagman [PH]

“This photo brings back such happy memories of working with Larry Hagman.

It was a publicity still for I Dream of Jeannie, the comedy show where Larry played an astronaut and I’m his genie in a bottle. I remember they had a very difficult time on that shoot because Larry was being so silly – just look at his face – but the result was great.

Larry Hagman would certainly keep people on their toes, but he was very loving and supportive of me

Barbara Eden

We were promoting season five, when our characters finally get married. That was something I didn’t agree with, because the whole point of the show was that Jeannie wasn’t human. This just turned her into a housewife – more like Samantha in Bewitched on the rival network.

Jeannie was so much fun to play, especially as we were allowed to improvise. She was very naive and innocent, and always eager to please, but her outfit was quite skimpy for those days and raised a few eyebrows. It was pink – which I chose because it was my favourite colour – and the harem pants were lined so you couldn’t see my legs, but when I put my arms up, my belly button would show.

There was no rule about revealing your belly button and no one said anything about it – but then one reporter wrote something and the story just snowballed across the country.

I had no idea why it was such an issue, but all of a sudden the head of Columbia Studios came down to the set, stared at my tummy and growled, ‘Is her navel showing there?’ A friend of mine told me later, ‘I’ve never seen so many suits sitting around a boardroom table talking about a belly button!’

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‘This photo brings back such happy memories of working with Larry Hagman’ [S MAG]

We had so much laughter making that show, and Larry was a charming man with a wicked sense of humour. He would certainly keep people on their toes, but he was very loving and supportive of me. And we worked together so well – it was like we both had the same rhythm. We repeated our double act later in life, touring the US with the play Love Letters.

I have a lot of happy memories from Jeannie and one precious keepsake. There were many genie bottles and most of them broke on the set, but I kept the original one. I finally put it in the bank after experiencing too many earthquakes in LA.

Fans have been so gracious to me over the years. I still receive letters from every imaginable country and it’s as if the show has never left the air.

It makes me feel so warm and happy when I hear how people still embrace our work 50 years later. I recently did the Hollywood Show signing convention and I’m always amazed at how popular I Dream of Jeannie still is.”

For more information on the Hollywood Show, visit The next event begins on Friday in Los Angeles.

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