When it comes right down to it, is there any television show from the ’60s more iconic than I Dream of Jeannie? The series starred Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden as an astronaut – genie duo looking to navigate through life with a little extra magic shared between them. Despite the show being canceled more than 50 years ago, I Dream of Jeannie has spawned one of the most loyal and ravenous fanbases in entertainment history. In order to satiate your thirst for more Jeannie content, we’ve pulled together a list of the most incredible unknown facts about the show!
Barbara Eden Was PREGNANT During the First Season!
Did you know that the star of the show, Barbara Eden, was pregnant while filming the first ten episodes of the original season? It’s true! Following the pilot shoot, Eden would become pregnant. As a result, her character was forced to wear extra layers and multiple veils during the shoot. With a keen eye, we bet you can spot the early signs of her baby bump!
Larry Hagman Had His Character Re-Written Between Seasons.
In I Dream of Jeannie, Hagman played the uptight NASA astronaut, Tony Nelson. While Hagman chilled out over the course of the show, his character’s change was planned from the very beginning. In order to make Tony’s transition into Jeannie’s love interest more believable, they wanted Hagman to play the part as an uptight and chronic worrywart at the beginning of the show.
Barbara Eden Wasn’t Allowed To Bare Her Belly Button.
Trying to air a television show in the 60s was a fight against censorship. At the time, networks were rather risk-averse when it came to showing anything considered to be ‘controversial’. As a result, Jeannie’s outfits were modified in order to hide her bellybutton. That’s right, the title character of the show, a genie, was forced to cover up her belly button. Don’t ask us because we can’t explain it.
Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden Became Lifelong Friends.
While Larry and Barbara had their ups and downs on set, their relationship would become a lifelong one. Barbara and Larry maintained a touching and close relationship up until Larry’s death in 2012. Follow Hagman’s passing, Eden put together a tribute for her dear friend. How wild would it be to spend the rest of your life as friends with a coworker from your youth?
Star Larry Hagman Struggled With Alcohol Abuse in Later Seasons.
As the series progressed, star Larry Hagman began having some serious issues both on and off of the set. The famous actor had allegedly fallen in love with the bottle. This would lead to Hagman having multiple flare-ups while on set. In fact, we’ll discuss one of Hagman’s legendary onset outbursts in a little bit.
‘I Dream of Jeannie’ Didn’t Have a Theme Song Until Season Two!
Having a great theme song is sort of like Sitcom 101. We bet that you can remember all of the theme songs from your favorite television shows. Crazily enough, I Dream of Jeanie didn’t have their own theme song until the second season. Now that you realize it, you won’t be able to miss it!
Larry Hagman Would Score Numerous Award Nominations For THIS Later Role.
While Larry Hagman definitely established himself as a star on I Dream of Jeannie, his uphill climb to the top would continue on for quite a few years! After departing from the program, Hagman would be cast in the hit drama series, Dallas as J.R. Ewing. For his work on the show, Hagman would score four Golden Globe nominations as well as a pair of Primetime Emmy nods!
The Original Genie Design Was MUCH More Exotic.
We briefly talked about censorship regarding Barbara Eden and her character, so we might as well go back to the discussion. Apparently, show creator Sidney Shelton had quite the ambitious plan for his original genie design. According to Shelton, the original interpretation of Jeannie was supposed to be much more exotic. However, the showrunners decided to stray away from this idea as it would push censorship rules while rubbing against Bewitched‘s branding.
Barbara Eden Was AGAINST This Pivotal Relationship
Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman both had strong opinions about how their characters should end up. Like the rest of the audience, Hagman wanted Tony and Jeannie to get married, and they did. Eden, however, hated the idea of Jeannie marrying Tony at the end of the show. Eden said, “It ruined the show. Because Jeannie wasn’t human. She thought she was and Tony knew she wasn’t.”
The Talented Barbara Eden Played Multiple Roles.
As you can tell from Barbara Eden’s long and illustrious career, she is quite a talented individual. Having said that, Eden flexed her talents early on in her career by playing multiple roles on I Dream of Jeannie. Eden would portray the dark-haired evil version of Jeannie’s sister. Who woulda guessed?
A Murderer Worked on the Show!
When it comes to the entertainment industry, you never know who you are rubbing elbows with. Phil Spector appeared in a single episode of I Dream of Jeannie as the character ‘Steve Davis’. Spector was an acclaimed music producer at the time. Tragically, Spector decided to selfishly throw his life away while also taking someone else’s. Spector was tried and convicted of murder in 2009.
Larry Hagman Would Drink Heavily on Set.
Alright, we’ve alluded to Hagman’s drinking on set for a while and now it is time to dig into the details. According to an insider at the production, Hagman would open up every shoot by drinking an extraordinary amount of champagne. When Hagman would take breaks in between takes, he would head to his dressing room in order to smoke marijuana while drinking more champagne.
The Original ‘Jeannie’ Pilot Was Filmed in California.
If you know anything about the movie industry, you’ll understand that the vast amount of work is produced in Hollywood. The same can be said for the series pilot of I Dream of Jeannie. The first episode was shot on Zuma Beach in Malibu, CA. At the time, California was basically the only place you could go for a career in entertainment.
Barbara Eden Has A Very Special Favorite Episode.
Barbara Eden probably loves every episode that she did for the show. With that being said, the talented actress has made sure to separate one script from the rest. According to Eden, her favorite episode in the series was titled, “The Lady in the Bottle”. If that title sounds familiar, you are probably onto something as that was the pilot episode of the show!
This Main Character Passed Away After Performing In The ‘Jeannie’ Reunion.
I Dream of Jeannie had an excellent cast of recurring characters. Among the best of the best was Dr. Bellows, played to perfection by William Rorke. Rorke would return for the Jeannie reunion project in 1985, but that would be his last association with the project. Rorke would tragically pass away from cancer just two years later.
Jeannie Had a Storyline With Eden’s First Husband!
People always say to keep your work and home life separate. So, what was Barbara Eden thinking when her first husband showed up on set as the bad guy in her series? Michael Ansara was Eden’s first husband, and he would go on to portray Blue Djinn in the series.
Larry Hagman was TERRIFIED of the Guest Lion.
In I Dream of Jeannie, Jeannie was an expert with animals. Unfortunately, that meant that the entire cast and crew had to grow familiar and comfortable with some large creatures. In one special episode, Jeannie got to show off her skills with a lion. During the shoot, actor Larry Hagman was so scared that the wrong move would send him running for the door.
‘I Dream of Jeannie’ Was The FINAL Show to be Filmed in Black/White!
When I Dream of Jeannie’s first season was filmed, the production was shot in black and white. What the team didn’t know was that they would be the last network television show to be filmed and aired in black and white! As it turned out, the Jeannie team had to film in black and white due to budget cuts. The network didn’t think that Jeannie would succeed, so they felt fine airing it in black and white.
Barbara Eden Was Gifted Around Animals.
Remember when we talked about how terrified Hagman was of a lion? Not that we blame him, but Hagman was quite a bit more afraid than Barbara Eden was! According to stories on set, when Hagman ran for the door following the lion’s roar, Eden kept her cool. Apparently, Eden felt like she was an expert on lions. Was she brave? Who knows, but she got the job done!
This Iconic ’60s Show Had A ‘Jeannie’ Easter Egg!
Crossover marketing is one of the most effective ways to transfer an audience from one program to another. In the ’60s, NBC had The Monkees series reference Jeannie several times with little Easter eggs. One of the biggest Easter eggs in The Monkees involved Davy Jones of the band finding an actual genie lamp. Davy Jones would look the bottle over before saying, “Imagine that, wrong show!”
Jeannie’s Mystical Moves Were Designed By A Group!
I Dream of Jeannie wouldn’t have been half the show that it was without Jeannie’s iconic magic routine. While we might instinctively give the screenwriter credit for creating the magic, the effort was actually a group one! Eden worked with Gene Nelson in order to craft the maneuver. Apparently, it was Eden’s idea to add the little head nod at the end.
Jeannie’s Backstory Changed Multiple Times.
No, you aren’t experiencing the Mandela Effect. You might actually have heard different origin stories for Jeannie in I Dream of Jeannie! Jeannie’s origin story originally had her being turned into a genie after refusing the Blue Djinn. The writers would retcon that concept out later on in the series as they stated that Jeannie had always been a, well, genie.
Barbara Eden Burned Through Wardrobe.
While we don’t consider Jeannie to be a wildly physical character, Barbara Eden still had to get busy in the role. Because Jeannie was always running around, Eden would end up cutting, ripping, or accidentally tearing her pantaloons with her heels. Because of her active work, Eden kept the wardrobe department busy with a constant stream of backup costumes. Come to think of it, maybe Eden was just clumsy.
Jeannie Was Barred From Being in Bathroom Scenes With Male Co-Stars.
If you thought that the 60s were a time of social experiments and free love, you are only half right. Unfortunately, network television was censored to a degree that seems almost puritanical. An example of the censorship passed down to the I Dream of Jeannie team includes barring Jeannie from ever being alone in a bathroom with a male co-star. Seriously.
Barbara Eden Took A Hat Home as a Memory.
Being that Jeannie was Barbara Eden’s most iconic role, wouldn’t it make sense to take a keepsake home after the series ended? As it turned out, Eden made sure to grab a prop before heading out the door. She decided to snag one of the small hats that she had worn while in costume. Later on, Eden revealed that there weren’t any more genie costumes available because the producers had given them all to their wives.
Jeannie’s Wardrobe Didn’t Bother Barbara.
Barbara Eden has been asked numerous times about her wardrobe in the legendary sitcom. Each time the question is asked, Eden is probed on whether she thought the wardrobe was acceptable for the character. Eden would finally get flustered answering the question before revealing that it didn’t bother her at all. Eden said, “It was what she wore. It was a uniform.”
Larry Hagman Freaked Out on a Group of Nuns.
The unfortunate truth is that Larry Hagman dealt with some personal demons during his time on I Dream of Jeannie. Those demons manifested into an alcohol problem that turned production into the occasional madhouse. On one such occasion, a group of nuns from a nearby soundstage had received an invitation to look at the Jeannie set. While drunk, Hagman apparently grabbed an ax before viciously swinging it in circles above his head. To make matters worse, Hagman recited all the curse words that he knew. This story is just one of many that have been shared by production insiders.
Jeannie Wasn’t Allowed In Bedrooms — Kinda.
Censorship was a very real thing in the ’60s. Unfortunately, absurd censorship requirements would be levied upon Barbara Eden’s Jeannie. Alongside barring her belly button from being aired on television, the network demanded that Jeannie and Tony never be shown closing the door behind them in a bedroom. Even crazier, the network demanded that Jeannie never get shown going into a bedroom, she could only be shown leaving!
The Pilot Episode Shoot Was Miserable.
Even though the pilot would be shot in California near a beach, the cast and crew didn’t feel particularly great. Why was that the case? Well, Zuma Beach was quite cold during their production, so the cast and crew would be shivering right up until the director called ‘action’. In between takes, the cast would be covered in blankets or with jackets. Imagine wearing Jeannie’s outfit during that!
Jeannie’s Famous Genie Bottle Is In A Special Place.
Even though we know that Jeannie’s amazing lamp is just an old bottle, it is still considered a prized prop. After the program came to a conclusion, the production team sent the genie bottle to the Smithsonian Institute located in Washington D.C. The bottle still sits in the museum all these years later!
NASA Had a Special Interest in the Show.
If you were alive during the ’60s, you knew that NASA was kind if a big thing in America. While we wouldn’t land on the moon until 1969, I Dream of Jeannie definitely reflected the era’s obsession with outer space. In fact, the show was so influential that the cast would get an invitation to meet Buzz Aldrin shortly after he returned home from the moon!
Larry Hagman Found Out the Show Was Cancelled In A Weird Way.
Even though Larry Hagman was the star of the show, he would be one of the last people to find out about its fate. Hagman had gone on vacation when the series was canceled. When he returned home, he went to set as if it were any other day. On the way to his dressing room, Hagman would be pulled aside by a security guard who would break the news.
Barbara and Larry Reunited On This CLASSIC Television Show.
Even though I Dream of Jeannie was where Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden first began working together, it wouldn’t be the last! After Hagman scored the role of J.R. in Dallas, Eden wouldn’t be very far behind. Barbara would only appear on the show for a couple of episodes, though she made them count. Barbara played J.R.’s former lover who was looking to take all of his money.
The Genie Bottle Was A CHEAP Prop!
Designing props has got to be a ton of fun, right? We have some good news for you, it is! With that being said, you don’t have to break the bank in order to design an epic prop. The iconic genie bottle from I Dream of Jeannie was just a painted and decorated glass Jim Beam bottle. After reading about Hagman’s troubles onset, we have an idea as to where they got the bottle!
Barbara Eden Received Multiple Honors For Her Work.
When we talk about sitcoms, it is easy to consider the work to be ‘lesser than’ other more serious projects. As any performer will tell you, succeeding in comedy is incredibly tough! For her hard work, Eden was nominated for a pair of Golden Globe awards. While Eden didn’t win any Academy Awards, she would eventually be honored by TV Land in 2003 with the award for Favorite Dual-Role Character.
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