Guess who we spotted at the Paley Honors: A Special Tribute to Television’s Comedy Legends in Los Angeles? It’s the one and only “I Dream of Jeannie” star Barbara Eden, 88, stunning everyone with her glamorous look.
She is seen donning a beautiful blue and black striped dress with mesh sleeves, which she matched with a unique necklace and gorgeous dangling earrings. Eden’s outfit was absolutely a scene-stealer that night. The TV actress was one of the many comedy superstars at the event, which honored Carol Burnett, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Carl Reiner, and Lily Tomlin.
During the event, Eden also gave her seal of approval for a possible reboot of her hit 60s sitcom.
“It would have to be different. I don’t think you’d ever copy something, but it’s a good idea,” she told PEOPLE as she walked down the red carpet. “It’s a good idea. They should do it.”
As for the new Jeannie, the actress shared a piece of advice, “Just follow your own road,” she said. “Do what you’re comfortable doing. You find your own truth.”
The classic sitcom had a good run for five seasons (139 episodes), from 1965 until 1970.
The Tough Years Before Becoming the Iconic Jennie
Barbara Eden arrived in Hollywood in the 1950s. However, during one of her first professional meetings with a casting director at Warner Brothers, the young actress was told she wasn’t beautiful enough to make it as an entertainer.
“He said, ‘You’re a very nice little girl from San Francisco, but I really think you should go home and marry the boy at home. This isn’t the town for you,’” Eden recalled. “He said, ‘You’re just not pretty enough. You’re pretty, but you’re pretty like any girl out in the Avenues.’”
The casting director showed her a photo of his daughter and told her, “This is what they want!”
Eden admitted that she was stunned by the man’s admission, yet she laughed as she remembered how the photo showed off his daughter’s full cleavage. “I thought, ‘Why am I crying? I’m not here because I’m pretty or ugly. I’m here because I’m a human, and I act,’” Eden recalled.
But guess luck was really on Eden’s side, plus she got a talent that can’t be denied.
A few years later, Eden was cast in the role originated by Marilyn Monroe in the television adaptation of the film “How to Marry a Millionaire,” and it showed the actress abilities as a comedic actress. Her part has the most humor of the main characters, so Eden was required to perform broad physical comedy.
This has helped Eden land in the 1965 TV sitcom “I Dream of Jeannie,” in which she played her breakthrough role of a mythological genie-in-a-bottle who falls in love with an astronaut played by Larry Hagman.
Whether it was the magical chemistry with co-star Larry Hagman or Jeannie’s unbelievable ability to get herself in and out of trouble, the show was totally irresistible. Jeannie’s unique pink costume, enchanted bottle, and magical blink-and-nod gesture performed when granting wishes were also loved by many people.
Eden’s talents really began to shine. She did a fantastic job that helped solidify the series and its humor. Her role as Jeannie did make her famous, and it gave her a lot to do as an actress who had mostly only been given supporting roles and romantic interests.
The End of ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ Did Not Stop Barbara Eden
After I Dream of Jeannie completed its run in 1970, Eden remained in demand both on television and theatre. She filmed a pilot for “The Barbara Eden Show” and many TV movies that show her versatility as an actress. She showed she could do both comedy and drama. Among these were “A Howling in the Woods,” where she has been reunited with Larry Hagman. She also had theatrical movies like “The Amazing Dobermans” and “Harper Valley PTA.”
She again reunited with Hagman when she guest-starred on his hit series “Dallas,” and returned in the “I Still Dream of Jeannie” TV movie in 1990. Eden also enjoyed a memorable three-episode stint on the first “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” TV series playing the role of Aunt Irma. Eden is the perfect fit for Aunt Irma, and the three episodes in which she appeared are among the series’ highlights.
In 2011, Eden released a memoir titled “Jeannie Out of the Bottle,” where she describes her journey to the show and her life afterward. She detailed her three marriages as well as her emotional breakdown and recovery after her son, Matthew Ansara, died.
In 2013, Eden dug up her Jeannie costume for the Life Ball charity event in Vienna. And her new master? It was none other than 42nd U.S. President Bill Clinton. The ball is considered to be the biggest charity event in Europe that aims to raise awareness about AIDS and HIV. It drew support from stars like Carmen Electra, Elton John, and Kelly Osbourne. And Eden was there to fulfill the wishes of countless I Dream of Jeannie fans. She absolutely made the event a truly magical moment.
The actress most recently starred in “My Adventures With Santa,” a heartfelt, fun-filled adventure movie that brings the magic of the holiday spirit to the whole family; the film debuted in November 2019. Eden played the role of Mrs. Claus and started along with Denise Richards and Patrick Muldoon.
Barbara Eden Bare-Skinned Photos
While it’s been more than 50 years since the first episode of “I Dream of Jeannie” aired, Eden previously told PEOPLE she’s still grateful for the experience.
“There are times when I am really upset with the time passing,” she said in 2013. “But I have a loving husband [Jon Eicholtz] and really good friends. You can’t possibly be what you were when you were younger. I am so lucky to be here. Really lucky.”
Eden has managed to do pretty well for herself over the years, yet in the end, she will forever be remembered for her easy-going charm as Jeannie.