For many women young and old, the 60s TV sitcomÂ I Dream of Jeannie was a perfect fantasy. Pert, blond, beautiful, sassy and wise, not to mention that magical nod, Jeannie used to run rings around Major Nelson – and who wouldn’t want square-jawed Larry Hagman hanging round the place for just that purpose? Barbara Eden’s biography,Â Jeannie Out of the Bottle, lets us take a look inside that fantasy land and see whether there is any chance that reality could measure up.
In fact Barbara Eden’s life was not too dissimilar to Jeannie’s. She was always pert, blond, beautiful, sassy and – some of the time – wise, but more than that she had a solid work ethic that saw her go to audition after audition in Hollywood, seeking the silver screen. She ended up on the television, and in more households than she ever anticipated, as a pink-draped, pony-tailed magical being who more often than not, would fluster and flummox her master in the process of satisfying his wishes. And in real-life, Barbara Eden seems to have had similar success to Jeannie. With marriage to screen heart-throb Michael Ansara and the birth of their son Matthew, all while working onÂ Jeannie, she was an early-model supermum. Nothing could be beyond her, including being on the receiving end of many admiring glances, and attempts to steal her away from Michael, including offers from Sammy Davis Jr, Elvis Presley, Desi Arnaz, and Paul Newman.
The biography follows Barbara Eden’s early career as a dancing girl in a Hollywood nightclub, through several TV and film roles and of course, the memorable 5 years on Jeannie. There’s also follow-up, tracing Barbara’s rocky second marriage, her life after Jeannie as a stage entertainer, and the tragic loss of her son due to drugs, and finally the story ends at the present day, where Jeannie has finally settled down with her Major Nelson, or in reality, Barbara Eden happily married to Jon Eichholtz. For someone who remembers the TV show, it’s nice to see Jeannie again – out of the bottle at last.
Available now: HarperCollins RRP$35.00