Barbara Eden Biography
Born on August 23, 1934 in Tuscon, Arizona, she was Barbara Jean Moorehead up until the age of three. Her mother's marriage to Connor Huffman brought on the name change to Barbara Jean Huffman.
She was elected Miss San Francisco in 1951 that subsequently led her to the prelimanaries of the prestigous Miss America Pageant. Events that took place just two years after graduating from San Francisco's Abraham Lincoln Highschool in 1949. Fresh out of school, Barabara Eden certainly was easy on the eyes to say the least, the future seemed bright, opening up for her with endless possiblities and opportunities, she only need but pick an avenue to pursue.
Changing her name to Barbara Eden was a move by her manager after consulting with her and with her permission offcourse. According to her manager, her lastname lacked commercial appeal and didn't quite sound or rolled off the tounge the way a name in lights should as far as names go in Hollywood. She agreed on changing her lastname but fought to keep her first name, citing that she could never imagine answering to any other name other than Barbara.
1956's "Back to Eternity" was her film debut, an adventure drama about a plane crashing on a headhunter infested jungle, its survisors. Their race to fix their plane, against time and whatever unseen dangers that surround them in a landscape totally unfamilliar to them. They later find out that only five of them will be able to fit after the plane is fixed and ready for the journey "back".
She then starred on the TV series "How To Marry A Millionaire" the following year, playing the part Marilyn Manroe originally played on the movie on which the show was based on and shared the same title. From TV and back to films again, in 1960 a performance worth mentioning is on the movie "Flaming Star", a film co-starring no less than the "King" himself, Elvis Presley. In Irwin Allen's "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea", she played Lt. Cathy Connors, although it just a supporting role in one of "the Master of Disaster's" science fiction gems, being the hottest woman on TV at the time. She then continued on playing several supporting roles on films for a few years including a movie that involved a genie that would subsequently lead to another job that would set her up to be the icon she is today.
In the 1964 fantasy movie "The Brass Bottle", Barbara Eden co-starred with Tony Randall and Burl Ives who played "Farkash", the genie. This was where the show that made Barbara Eden the recognizable star she is, is based on. Her involvement in this film was crucial in landing the role of Jeanie, albeit she didn't actually play the part of the genie in the film.
when the casting call for "this new show by Sydney Sheldon" started and was directly inspired by a movie he had just seen and where Barbara Eden also had a part in, "The Brass Bottle", but instead of a man playing the genie, he wanted a woman to play the part, contrary at the time to the popular image of a genie of a large bearded creature granting three wishes to whoever rubs his lamp or bottle, in that respect, it was fresh and he knew he had something.
At the time NBC was also looking for new ideads for shows to pit up against "bewithced" and hopefully recreate its success but Sheldon wanted an actor that looked nothing like the girl from "Bewitched". Bewithched was a show that his new show would directly compete with, share viewers and more importantly scrambble for raitings with. Barbara Eden was never in mind for the said part for reasons (if asked) that she looked too much like the actor on the "other" show. Sheldon was also dodging or atleast lowering the blow a bit for the inevitable comparison of the two shows and he knew his new project would definitely be under the microscope right out of the gate.
After numerous failed auditions and still without his "genie" that fit what he had invisioned, still fresh in his mind the movie that started the spark for this new project of his, he finally gave Barbara Eden's people to set up a meeting. They had tea and the rest was history.
As the sexy, sultry genie, hopelessly in-love with her master, astronaut Major Anthony Nelson, played by Larry Hagman on the sitcom "I Dream of Jeanie", she played the part of "Jeanie" from 1965 to 1970. The show regularly played on Jeanie's efforts of dropping hints about how she deeply felt for him, hoping he'd acknowledge it, ultimately materialize and mutually be in love with each other just as in her dreams.
Her plight and how the "apple of her eye" kept on missing her signals to reveal her love for him made both characters endearing. Audiences were glued to the show up until the very last episode aired. The characters did end up together at the tail of the show's long successful run and Jeanie's dreams all did come true.
The show made Barbara Eden's carreer and she is still widely recognized to this day as "Jeanie", not to mention the sexiest woman/genie anyone has ever seen before on TV at the time the show first aired and ran.
In its conceptualization stages, NBC wanted ideas for a new show to ride on the wave the show "Bewitched" has made. The show upon its first airing, surpassed and far exceeded NBC's expectations and went on to become entirely something else that no one have ever expected or foreseen. The show is now considered the most popular TV show of it's time.
Barbara Eden received two nominations from the Golden Globes for her work on the show and has been honored and given her own star on Hollywood Boulevard's famous Hollywood Walk of Fame for her many memorable contributions to television in 2003.
"The Blue Djinn", a reccurring character on "I Dream Of Jeannie", played by actor Michael Ansara was Barbara Eden's first husband. They had a son who grew up to be an actor himself, Matthew Ansara who tragically died from a heroine overdose on June 25, 2001. Michael and Barbara divorced in 1974.
In 1977, she found husband number two in Charles Donald Feggert, a news journalist from the Chicago-Sun Times but the marriage didn't work out and ended in 1983. Her current and third marriage was to Jon Eicholtz, a real estate developer based in Los Angeles. They were married on January 5, 1991.
Barbara Eden still does special guest appearances on TV shows and has reprised her role as Jeanie on two special made for TV reunion movies of "I Dream of Jeanie".
Aside from acting, Barbara Eden is a talented singer and has regularly been featured as a musical guest. She has performed in over fifty variety TV shows, twenty times as a guest on Bob Hope's musical specials. In 1967, an album entitled "Miss Barbara Eden" was released under Dot Records.
In October of 1989 "Barbara Eden: My Story", an autobiography was published but never reached mass production due to disputes regarding its contents between Barbara Eden and the publisher. Although the book she wrote was already poised for circulation, the two parties never reached a mutually beneficial agreement that could've settled the issue, she prevented it from ever reaching the bookstore shelves.
In 1990, the University of West Los Angeles School of Law gave her an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree.
Reunited co-stars, Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden went on a publicity tour in New York, promoting the release of the first season DVD of "I Dream of Jeanie" in 2006. In the same period they reunited on stage on the play "Love Letters", staged at the College of Staten Island, New York and at United States Millitary Academy at West Point, New York. The first time the two had acted in sixteen years, after her appearing as a guest star in a recurring role in "Dallas" as "Lee Ann De La Vega", larry Hagman played J.R. Ewing, Barbara Eden's character ex-lover on the show.