Barbara Eden is one of the few timeless beauties that Hollywood has ever produced. In an industry where many talented people and beautiful faces have been forgotten over the years, Eden has managed to sustain her admirers even till date. After working on a dozen unsuccessful films, Barbara became a household name in the United States for her role as a ‘Jeannie’ in the famous American sitcom ‘I Dream of Jeannie’. The sitcom is still remembered by many even after five decades since its first appearance on television. This role also paved way for loads of offers. Barbara has also been one of the busiest actresses of all times. In a career spanning more than five decades, Barbara has appeared in around 21 movies and worked on more than 50 television shows. Eden has even been associated with all the major Hollywood production houses such as ‘Twentieth Century Fox’, ‘Columbia’, and ‘Tristar’, which have produced many of her works. Barbara has been seen in various cameo appearances for television, and even commercials, something which she does even till date. Eden also proved that she’s a good singer by lending her voice to a few tracks from one of her movies.
Childhood & Early Life
Barbara Eden was born on 23 August 1931 to Alice Mary and Hubert Henry Morehead, in Tucson, Arizona. She was originally named Barbara Jean Morehead. Eden was three years old when her parents divorced. She later moved along with her mother to San Francisco, where she grew up.
Due to ‘The Great Depression’, Barbara had a humble upbringing, since her family couldn’t afford many luxuries. Barbara’s mother would entertain her by singing songs, which later became an inspiration for Barbara to act in films.
Eden graduated from the Abraham Lincoln High School in 1949. During her school days, Eden had been a cheerleader. She was also a pop singer in her teenage years.
Unlike most other actors who get carried away by the glamour of cinema and a few inspirational scenes, Barbara took up acting classes since she felt it would improve her singing skills.
Barbara learnt her lesson in theatre from City College, San Francisco for a year. During the early 1950’s she participated in two beauty pageants, where she was crowned ‘Miss San Francisco’ in one of them.
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Barbara got her first acting assignment in the form of the 1956 film ‘Back From Eternity’. She had played a ‘blink and miss’ role of a blonde college role.
In 1957, she bagged a role in the series ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’, which was a television adaptation of a movie by the same name.
Barbara also appeared in popular television shows such as ‘I Love Lucy’, ‘Perry Mason’, ‘Gunsmoke’, and ‘Route 66’ and a dozen other forgettable roles through the late 50’s and early 1960s.
In 1960, Barbara starred in a movie called ‘Flamingo Star’ where she shared screen space with the legendary singer Elvis Presley. Eden played Presley’s love interest in this movie.
Barbara’s life changed completely when she was approached by legendary writer Sidney Sheldon to star in his sitcom ‘I Dream of Jeannie’. This series had a successful run for five years, from 1965 to 1970, and is considered to be a cult classic.
In the 1970s, Eden appeared in three prominent roles, one being ‘A Howling in the Woods’, where she shared screen space with her ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ co-star Larry Hagman, followed by ‘The Woman Hunter’ and ‘The Stranger Within’.
In 1978, Barbara starred in ‘Harper Valley PTA’ a comedy movie inspired by a folk song. The movie was also later made into a television series. Barbara bagged the lead roles in both these projects.
Though Barbara has worked in numerous projects over the years, she is still recognized for her role as the Jeannie in the 1965 classic television series ‘I Dream of Jeannie’.
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The hugely successful show was revived in 1985 as ‘I Dream of Jeannie, Fifteen Years Later’, where Eden reprised a role. It was claimed that Hollywood giant ‘Columbia Pictures’ wanted to make a movie based on this hit television series, back in 1997. Eden was rumoured to play the new Jeannie’s aunt in this movie. However, no such project has still seen the light of the day.
Awards & Achievements
Eden was first recognized by the jury of ‘Laurel Awards’ in 1961, when she was nominated in the ‘Top Female New Personality’ category. Eden held the 10th place on this list, but she didn’t win the prize.
Eden was also nominated for the prestigious ‘Golden Globe’ awards twice, in the years 1967 and 1970 respectively. The nomination was in the ‘Best TV star’ category for her role in the classic television series ‘I Dream of Jeannie’.
In 1988, Eden won a ‘Star on the Walk of Fame’ award. This ceremony was held at 7003 Hollywood boulevard.
In 2003, Eden was again recognized for her role in the 1965 classic, and also won a ‘TV Land Award’ for her role in the television series ‘I Dream of Jeannie’.
’People’ magazine named her as ‘One of America’s 200 Greatest Pop Icons of The 20th Century’.
Personal Life & Legacy
Barbara married TV actor Michael Ansara in 1958. The couple divorced in the year 1974. Barbara and Michael had a child together named Mathew. Mathew got addicted to drugs since a really young age, and died at the age of 35 due to an overdose.
In 1977, Barbara got married to Charles Donald Fegert, a Chicago Sun Times Executive. The marriage ended in 1983.
She next got married to Jon Trusdale Eicholtz in 1991, this relationship continues to survive.
Barbara penned down thoughts about her personal life and 50-year old Hollywood career, in the book called ‘Jeannie Out of the Bottle’. This book was released in 2011 by a publishing house named ‘Crown Archetype’.
Eden continues to make cameo appearances for TV and even commercials, where she pokes fun at her role in ‘I Dream of Jeannie’.