Barbara Eden: 15 Little Known Facts about the 'I Dream of Jeannie' Star

Barbara Eden rose to fame in 1965 after almost a decade in the industry with the role of a genie in "I Dream of Jeannie." The show was a massive success.

"I Drea of Jeannie" is one of the most recognizable credits bagged by Barbara Eden.  The talented actress and singer also appeared in dozens of films, TV shows, stage productions, and musicals.

 Eden's career highlights also include being Miss San Francisco in 1951. Here are fifteen facts fans might not know about Barbara Eden.

1. Working Before Fame

Before she became an actress, Eden worked at a bank. After her bank job, she began performing ask a chorus girl at Ciro's which is a supper club on LA's Sunset Strip. She later landed a contract with 20th Century Fox. 

2. Good With Lions

Eden's hidden talent is her impressive ability to work with trained African lions which she has done several times including the one that was her "pet" on "I Dream of Jeannie." She even developed a technique to gain the lion's trust.

Barbara Eden attends Barbara Eden is Honored At The Hollywood Museum's Lobby Series Tribute  | Getty Images

Barbara Eden attends Barbara Eden is Honored At The Hollywood Museum's Lobby Series Tribute | Getty Images

3.  Larry Hagman Was Reportedly Difficult On Set

While Eden has spoken warmly about her co-star Larry Hagman on "I Dream Of Jeannie" she also admitted that he could be difficult because he was "a great human being, but a troubled man."

She also revealed that he often began the day "drinking vast quantities of champagne" as well as smoking pot. The substances led him to be extremely irrational and difficult on set.  However, they remained close friends until Hagman's death in 2012.

4. Trapped Inside Jeannie's Bottle

Eden was once trapped inside the set of Jeannie's Bottle. The director sent everyone to lunch and the crew forgot about Eden who was inside the bottle. When they returned they allowed her out, but her cries for help ended up in the show. 

Barbara Eden is Honored At The Hollywood Museum's Lobby Series Tribute at The Hollywood Museum | Getty Images

Barbara Eden is Honored At The Hollywood Museum's Lobby Series Tribute at The Hollywood Museum | Getty Images

5. Famous Suitors But Didn't Focus on Dating

Eden revealed that she always focused on her career and even claimed that dating just "wasn't a priority." However, she did catch the attention of Elvis Presley when working as a chorus girl and in 1957, she also received a note from then-Senator John F. Kennedy asking her to call him. 

6. Her Son Overdosed Before His Wedding

In June 2001, Eden's only son, Matthew Ansara, overdosed in his car at a gas station. Ansara passed just months before his wedding and had been working as a fitness trainer and bodybuilder.

Barbara Eden is honored at the YWCA Greater Los Angeles (YWCA GLA) 125th Anniversary Gala  | Getty Images

Barbara Eden is honored at the YWCA Greater Los Angeles (YWCA GLA) 125th Anniversary Gala | Getty Images

7.  Young Actress, Eden Focused On Personality

When she was starting out in the industry, Eden was she did not have the right looks to pursue acting. However, Eden refused to be discouraged and decided to focus on finding roles that were personality focused.

8. Her First Husband

Eden and  Michael Ansara met on a blind date. The two got married in 1958 and had their son, Michael together. However, when Eden gave birth to a stillborn a few years later, she became deeply depressed and their relationship became strained which led to their divorce in 1974.

Barbara Eden attends the Chiller Theatre Expo Fall 2018 at Hilton Parsippany | Getty Images

Barbara Eden attends the Chiller Theatre Expo Fall 2018 at Hilton Parsippany | Getty Images

9. Acting Helped Her

With the many hardships she has faced over the years, Eden revealed that her career helped her cope. In an interview for the Spokesman-Review, she said,

"Everyone has to work. And I think I'm very lucky that I'm able to work at something I love to do."

10. Starring In A Show Very Similar To 'The Brady Bunch'

In 1989, after "Jeannie" ended, Eden was cast as a mother of six in a sitcom called "Brand New Life." The show was very similar to "The Brady Bunch" but Eden denied the similarities and said:

 "We're just hoping to offer 60 minutes of fun. It's light, with real-life situations like any family would have. But there won't be any tragedies..."

Barbara Eden attends the 4th Hollywood Beauty Awards at Avalon Hollywood  | Getty Images

Barbara Eden attends the 4th Hollywood Beauty Awards at Avalon Hollywood | Getty Images

11. Three Marriages

Eden was married three times. First to Michael Ansara, then to Charles Fegert. However, Charles's dependency on substances saw the breakdown of their four-year union. Eden went on to marry her current husband Jon Eicholtz, in 1991.

12. Dressing as "Jeannie" For A 2013 Benefit

In 2013, Eden left fans stunned when she attended the Life Ball, in Vienna, Austria and appeared onstage in her classic "Jeannie" costume. 

Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden attend the "I Dream of Jeannie" DVD Launch at Barnes & Noble Bookstore | Getty Images

Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden attend the "I Dream of Jeannie" DVD Launch at Barnes & Noble Bookstore | Getty Images

13. San Francisco is Home

Though she was born in Arizona, Eden and her mother moved to San Francisco when she was 3 years old. She even bagged the Miss San Francisco beauty pageant title in 1951. She moved to LA to be closer to San Francisco because she considers it home.

14. Two Memoirs

She proved she is multitalented when she wrote two books detailing the story of her life in Hollywood. The first was released in 1986 called "Barbara Eden: My Story" and the second in 2011 called "Jeannie Out of the Bottle."

Barbara Eden, Special Guest & Emcee hosts the 2019 Mr. Mature America Pageant at the at Ocean City Music Pier | Getty Images

Barbara Eden, Special Guest & Emcee hosts the 2019 Mr. Mature America Pageant at the at Ocean City Music Pier | Getty Images

15. Career in Music, Film, TV, And Stage 

Besides writing and TV,  Eden has also pursued roles in shows like "I Love Lucy" and "Gunsmoke" She also appeared alongside Elvis Presley in "Flaming Star" and has a performed in a long list of stage acting credits.

She also became a singer and performed in musicals like "The Sound of Music" and "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes."

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