Barbara Eden, 91, has been acting for an incredible seven decades and is still going strong.
The actress, singer, and producer is best known for her role in “I Dream of Jeannie,” which premiered in 1965, even though she had been on our screens ten years earlier.
Generations of TV fans have watched I Dream of Jeannie, the popular 1960s sitcom about an astronaut who brings home a 2,000-year-old female genie.
Despite the absurdity of the premise, viewers tuned in and laughed because of Barbara Eden, the gorgeous and talented actress who played Jeannie.
Fans may find it difficult to believe, but Barbara is 91 years old!
Although she hasn’t been seen on television in her classic harem attire in a while, she’s still alive and well.
Barbara’s life, however, has not always been easy.
Barbara Eden was born in Tucson, Arizona, in the United States, in 1931. After her parents split, she moved to San Francisco and began studying singing at the Conservatory of Music.
As a kid in Golden Gate City, Barbara used to participate in small bands in neighborhood nightclubs. But she eventually decided to pursue acting as well.
“‘Barbara, you don’t sound like you mean a word you’re singing,’ my mother observed. “I believe you should study acting as well,” Eden recalled.
After concluding that acting was a suitable fit for her, she moved to Los Angeles and began playing on some of the best shows of the 1950s.
She first debuted on our screens in 1955 as a semi-regular guest on The Johnny Carson Show, but her role in the legendary fantasy sitcom “I Dream of Jeannie” rocketed her to prominence.
The Arizona native played Jeannie, a beguiling genie released from her bottle by astronaut and United States Air Force Captain Anthony “Tony” Nelson, played by Larry Hagman.
“We just… clicked. We had the same beat. “Whatever we were doing yielded the same truth,” Eden explained.
“I liked him. You must work hard to like some actors… and file it in another box in your mind. But I never had to do it with Larry. He was always present.”
She performed the part for five years, including appearing in the show as Jeannie’s mother and her nasty sister. Eden’s harem attire, which at the time was a little risqué for television, contributed to Jeannie’s fame.
“Executives at NBC got very frightened,” she told Today in 2015, near the show’s 50th anniversary. “They became very strict about the navel.”
After her friend and columnist Mike Connolly began making fun of her about the matter, Eden claimed that a different, much earlier interview with the Hollywood Reporter contributed to the legend’s propagation.
“When Mike came in and started teasing me about my belly button, it spread like fire worldwide. We had a good time with it, and I would tease him back, but I had no idea it would become something.”
The classic outfit also helped to establish Eden as a TV sex icon for many people, including well-known admirers like John F. Kennedy, who texted her his phone number, and Elvis Presley.
“I binned the piece of paper, but I wish I still had it,” the actress wrote in her 2011 memoir, Jeannie Out of the Bottle.
Eden has appeared in over 50 movies and, at 91 years old, is still working.
She played Mrs. Claus in her most recent film, My Adventures with Santa, which was released in 2019. The same year the film was produced, Melissa Gardner made her theatrical debut as Melissa Gardner in the production of “Love Letters.”
“I feel young!” Barbara added that she considered herself lucky to do the job she chose. “I feel sorry for people like my poor father who had to work every day at something he didn’t like. I enjoy my work. I still work.”
Barbara claimed that up until a few years ago, she had kept up her gym visits, spin classes, and weightlifting. Now, a trainer visits her home to assist her with resistance training, and the two go on a stroll.
“I have a lot of friends,” the TV legend said. “I’m pretty active socially.”
She even has an appearance lined up for March 2022.
“If I’m around, I’ll be there; I like it,” she jokingly said.
Along with authoring children’s books, Barbara enjoys performing. She co-wrote a book called Barbara and the Djinn about a young girl named Barbara who encounters a “charming and wizardly Genie” who takes her on adventures that are somewhat similar to those in her famous role.
She says she hopes her books will help children realize the value of reading, “now all they do is look at telephones!”
Barbara dismisses the idea that “I Dream of Jeannie” might come across as a bit dated for today’s viewers.
“Come now, this is a classic theme,” she said. “One Thousand and One Nights’? This is a lovely, wonderful fantasy.”
“And let’s be honest here, she was in the driver’s seat, you know. She wasn’t subservient at all.”
Barbara Eden has had an amazing life, made possible by her inspirational attitude and energy. She does prove that age is just a number.
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