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Barbara Eden: 14 Things to Know

She’s best known for playing a 2,000-year-old genie, but Barbara Eden, who celebrated her 91st birthday on August 23, 2022, has enjoyed a rich and varied careerand she’s still going strong!

Barbara Eden; photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images

Even more than 50 years later, Barbara Eden is associated with the character she played on the popular 1960s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, but her career has been much more varied than that. Here are 14 things you to know about this talented actress:

1. Eden was born Barbara Jean Morehead on August 23, 1931, in Tucson, Arizona, and raised in San Francisco.

2. Eden first performed in public when she sang solos with the choir at church. She soon was singing with local bands and studying at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Elizabeth Holloway School of Theatre.

3. A member of Actor’s Equity at 16, Eden was named Miss San Francisco in 1951.

4. In 1955, Eden became a semi-regular on Johnny Carson’s half-hour variety show and from there, her career took off.

5. By the time I Dream of Jeannie premiered in 1965, Eden was already a veteran performer, having starred for two seasons on the syndicated TV series, How to Marry a Millionaire, and guested on more than 20 other shows, including I Love Lucy, Father Knows Best, Gunsmoke, Perry Mason and The Andy Griffith Show.

6. Eden had also appeared in more than 20 feature films, including Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) and Flaming Star (1960) with Elvis Presley.

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7. In the half-century since Jeannie‘s five-run came to an end, she starred for a season on Harper Valley P.T.A., a series spun off from a popular movie of the same name that she also starred in. She also appeared in more than two dozen TV movies and a handful of feature films and has been an in-demand headliner at resorts and casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Lake Tahoe and on concert stages across the country.

8. Eden has also kept busy in touring stage productions, from The Sound of Music to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Love Letters (with her Jeannie costar Larry Hagman), and the female version of The Odd Couple.

9. Eden is also an author, having published her memoir, Jeannie Out of the Bottle, in 2011 and a children’s book, Barbara and the Djinn, in 2021.

10. In 1967, Eden released Miss Barbara Eden, an album of pop recordings.

11. Eden has faced her share of challenges. She’s experienced two divorces, a stillborn child followed by postpartum depression that she feels led to the end of her second marriage and the accidental death of her adult son, Matthew, from a heroin overdose.

Through it all, though, she has remained positive. As she as told TV host Larry King the year after Matthew’s death, “I happen to have a faith in God, of a higher power, whatever you want to call it.

“I think we’re put on this earth for a reason and it is to be productive. It’s not to sit and do nothing. I think probably I will always hurt. But you really have a responsibility to people around you to get going, to put one foot in front of the other, as I said before, and to try to do something creative and productive for the world. You know, life is a gift. And, yes, I lost my son and I love him dearly. I have to do something that he’d be proud of me for.”

12. Eden is perfectly content with her enduring association with the bubbly 2,000-year-old genie. She told People magazine, “She’s easy to live with. She really is. I like her a lot.”

13. Eden knows how richly she has been blessed and she endeavors to give back, devoting time and energy to a variety of charities, including American Cancer Society, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the March of Dimes, Save the Children, and Childhelp USA. During the Persian Gulf War, Eden performed with Bob Hope to entertain the troops, followed by an eight-day USO tour during the holiday season.

14. Eden has no plans to retire. As she told People, “I will be kicking along until they kick me out. That’s what keeps my energy up. I love to work.”
 

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