The funny and classic NBC television series I Dream of Jeannie first premiered in 1965, much to the delight of audiences everywhere. The show was about astronaut Tony Nelson’s (Larry Hagman) encounters with Jeannie the genie (Barbara Eden). Not only did Jeannie capture Tony’s heart, but she also won the hearts of America. Everybody loved to laugh along with this show, even years after it was originally aired. It has been over 50 years since the show first premiered, but we’re still remembering it today! Here are 23 facts you might not have known about the show.
1. Barbara Eden was pregnant during the 1st season
Barbara Eden was pregnant during the filming of the first 10 episodes of season 1, so if she seems a little more covered up than usual, that’s why! The producers had to cover up that baby bump, so they just kept adding layers and veils to Jeannie’s costume.
That would explain why Eden frequently had pieces of fabric – like shawls and scarves – draped around the middle of her body. When asked about all of that fabric covering her baby bump, she said, “I looked like a walking tent.” We don’t know about you, but we couldn’t agree less!
2. Barbara Eden wasn’t allowed to show her belly button
Censorship rules in the ’60s at the time I Dream of Jeannie was televised were still pretty conservative, so Jeannie’s outfits had to be strictly monitored to make sure they were okay to allow on air. The show was already considered to be pretty risque given the nature of its storyline.
All of Jeannie’s costumes had to cover Barbara Eden’s belly button, and her pants had to be thick enough that her legs wouldn’t show through. One area that didn’t have as much censorship? Cleavage! Of all things, Barbara Eden was allowed to show as much cleavage as the network execs wanted.
3. The show didn’t have a theme song until Season 2
You know that catchy theme song that just makes you want to get up and dance along to the show’s opening? As it turns out, that tune didn’t even exist until the second season of I Dream of Jeannie. Actually, there are a few differences between the first and second seasons of the series.
The first season was shot in black and white and had a couple of different opening songs – but none that were as iconic as the song that would come. It wasn’t until the second season that the show switched to color and got that iconic Hugo Montenegro and Buddy Kaye theme song.
4. The genie was originally supposed to be more exotic
Sidney Shelton, the creator of the show, originally wanted to cast a more exotic-looking genie than Barbara Eden. This is because he didn’t want to draw any associations to television’s other magical lady at the time, the witch from Bewitched.
Shelton figured casting a blonde genie would be too similar to Bewitched. But alas, he ended up casting blondie, Eden. Why? Because apparently, after seeing all of the auditions, nobody was as good as her. We’re not complaining. Heck, we think she did a great job in the series!
5. Barbara Eden never wanted Jeannie and Tony to get married
Barbara Eden had some very strong opinions about her character, Jeannie. For example, she thought that Jeannie and Tony’s marriage in the second season of the show was a terrible idea. In an interview, Eden spoke about her on-screen marriage to Tony.
She said, “It ruined the show. Because [Jeannie] wasn’t human. She thought she was, and [Tony] knew she wasn’t … I think it broke credibility.” Of course, part of the fun of the show was the sexual tension and flirtation that went on between Jeannie and Tony. However, in Eden’s opinion, the producers they took it a bit too far.
6. Barbara Eden also played Jeannie’s evil sister
In the series, Jeannie has an evil sister who has the same name as her and looks almost identical, except she has brown hair instead of blonde hair. Though it is pretty obvious that Barbara Eden played both characters, some viewers didn’t catch onto this.
Funny enough, Eden was said to have received lots of fan mail asking her who the dark-haired actress was. We’re just as surprised that viewers were so oblivious. But we suppose it just goes to show how versatile of an actress Eden really is!
7. Larry Hagman would drink on set quite a bit
Larry Hagman had a lot of frustrations when it came to how the show was run by its script writers. He was so frustrated, in fact, that he apparently turned to alcohol to ease his annoyances. Those affiliated with the show caught onto his bad habit and had some things to say about it.
A series insider was quoted saying, “[Hagman] started every day at the studio drinking vast quantities of champagne, and in between scenes, he sequestered himself in his dressing room, smoking pot and downing yet more champagne, all in the interests of maintaining a calm serenity.” Hagman did the same thing while he was on the set of Dallas, drinking so much that he eventually ended up getting a liver transplant in 1995.
8. The pilot of the show was filmed in California
I Dream of Jeannie‘s original pilot was filmed on Zuma Beach in Malibu, California. Believe it or not, for being in California, the weather was said to be pretty cold and all of the cast members were forced to put up with it in their costumes.
Imagine wearing Barbara Eden’s outfit in the cold! We’re shivering just at the thought of it. Interestingly enough, Zuma Beach would later double in the series as a deserted island in the South Pacific. Isn’t it amazing how set designers are able to turn a place into something completely different from what it actually is in reality?
9. This was Barbara Eden’s favorite episode
Barbara Eden has been asked several times what her favorite episode of the television series was, and her response is always “The Lady in the Bottle.” This was the name given to I Dream of Jeannie‘s pilot episode in which we first meet the lovely star!
When asked about the episode, shot in that chilly beach in California, Eden said, “I was freezing.” Yet despite the weather, the storyline was fun for the actress to film. In the episode, astronaut, Tony Nelson finds himself on a deserted island and stumbles upon a bottle with the genie, Jeannie inside.
10. Jeannie’s storyline changed quite a bit
In the series, I Dream of Jeannie, the story behind why Jeannie is, well, a genie changes quite a bit. Originally, Jeannie is turned into a genie because she refuses to marry Blue Djinn (who was played by Eden’s first husband in real life, Michael Ansara).
As a punishment for her refusal, Blue Djinn turned JEannie into a genie and trapped her in her genie bottle forever. Later, though, the producers of the series changed Jeannie’s story, saying that her and her family had always been genies.
11. I Dream of Jeannie was the last show to be filmed in black and white
The first season of this classic show was the very last season of any network television to be filmed in black and white! The reason that the show was filmed like this was because of budget cuts that made filming in color too expensive.
Apparently, the network thought that I Dream of Jeannie would be a bust, so they didn’t bother even filming the show in color. Luckily the series proved the network wrong. We know, we’re also questioning why a series would even run in the first place if the network expected it to be a flop!
12. Jeannie’s signature moves were a group effort
Remember those iconic moves that Jeannie would do each time she granted a wish or used her magical powers? The ones where she crossed her arms, blinked her eyes, and nodded her head… and then, all of a sudden, poof! The magic happened.
Well, as it turns out, the first director of the series, Gene Nelson came up with the actress’ crossed arms and blinking moves. It was Eden herself that added the head nod afterwards. Seems to us like it was a group effort!
13. Barbara Eden’s costumes had to constantly be replaced
Barbara Eden was pretty physical on the set of I Dream of Jeannie, as her character was constantly on the move. Because of all of her running around, Eden was constantly catching her heels in her pantaloons and accidentally ripping them open.
Eden had a lot of different costumes to begin with, but because they kept getting torn, she had to constantly replace them. Talk about a big job for those in charge of the costumes on set! Also, who else wishes their clothes could magically be replaced after each time they’re snared? Maybe this is only a luxury that’s given to genies.
14. Barbara Eden only kept one hat from her time on the show
Surprisingly enough, out of all of Barbara Eden’s costume changes on I Dream of Jeannie, the only thing from her wardrobe that the actress kept was a single hat. While we feel sorry for Eden in some way, the reasoning behind this is pretty funny.
The reason Eden only kept one hat was because the production studio lent out a lot of her costumes to the producers’ wives for Halloween. Unfortunately, those in charge of wardrobe on the show would rarely ever get the outfits back! When Barbara Eden did a commercial for Lexus later on, they had to commission a new genie outfit for her!
15. Barbara Eden never thought her costume was revealing
Surely all I Dream of Jeannie fans can spot Jeannie’s iconic genie costume anywhere. Rocking a head piece and a veil, the character’s costume is completed by a sexy two piece. While some would argue that her outfit is pretty risque, Eden thought otherwise.
In an interview, Eden revealed what she thought about her character’s costume, saying, “It was just an illusion. So many people…try to make something out of the fact that she was living with a man and they weren’t married. She was running around in her nightie. But it was what she wore… it was a uniform.”
16. Nun Shenanigans
Larry Hagman wasn’t a stranger to the eccentric life and always had an unconventional approach to show business. Hagman was determined to leave an indelible mark in Hollywood in the hopes of following in and even overtaking the footsteps of his mother Mary Martin, who starred in South Pacific, the Broadway production. I Dream Of Jeannie certainly landed him his fame, as well as what he did during one day on set.
According to Barbara Eden, one morning Sally Field was filming The Flying Nun on the next sound stage to an audience of around 10 nuns. Soon after, the nuns were brought over to the I Dream Of Jeannie set. They were super excited to frequent another Hollywood set, but Hagman had another idea in mind. Eden told the Daily Mail that he looked at the nuns, grabbed an axe that belonged to one of the technicians, and started to swing it around his head while cursing. The nuns were swiftly escorted off the set, and after that, no visitors were ever allowed on set again. Practical joke or not, Hagman must have been having a bad day.
17. The bedroom was also pretty heavily monitored
Back in 1965, which was when I Dream of Jeannie was first released, television was heavily censored. In this series in particular, there were strict rules around who was allowed to be shown going in and out of the bedroom.
For example, Jeannie and Tony couldn’t be seen going into the bedroom together with the door shut behind them. This rule even applied when Jeannie would turn into pink smoke. She couldn’t be shown going into the bedroom, but rather could only be shown leaving!
18. Barbara Eden considered herself to be an expert on lions
Remember in season one of I Dream of Jeannie when there was a lion on set? While we all agree that it’d be super cool to work so closely with such a ferocious animal, it apparently wasn’t Eden’s first rodeo. In fact, she seemed to be somewhat of an expert on the creatures.
About working with lions she gave the following advice, “You have to stand very still and let the lion smell you. Then, when he’s finished doing that, you should lean forward very, very gingerly and stroke him as gently as you can. That way, he’ll get to know you and everything will be fine.” Larry Hagman, on the other hand, wasn’t so thrilled to be working with the king of cats. When he got on set the first time, the lion roared at him and Hagman bolted for the door. We don’t blame him!
19. Jeannie’s bottle is now at the Smithsonian
Ever wondered what happened to the iconic props on I Dream of Jeannie? Well, Jeannie’s recognizable bottle came under the possession of Barbara Eden at the end of the series. For years and years, Eden kept the bottle locked up in a private safe in a bank vault.
It’s no longer there, however, as the actress later donated the bottle to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Fun fact: the bottle is actually a decanter! Made from a Jim Beam decanter, it was hand painted by the show’s prop department.
20. Phil Spector made a guest appearance on the show
In the 1960’s and 70’s, Phil Spector was a huge name in the music business. He was a musician, songwriter, and producer that created the Wall of Sound: a music production formula for rock and roll. He also happened to appear on I Dream of Jeannie.
In episode six of the third season, titled “Jeannie, The Hip Hippie,” Jeannie is shown pursuing her musical aspirations. Spector appears during the episode and he plays himself. His appearance in the episode of course predated the time his career and personal life went awry in 2003 after he got himself into some trouble.
21. The Monkees show referenced I Dream of Jeannie… a lot
The Monkees, a series on NBC that followed The Monkees band as they tried making a name for themselves in rock n’ roll, only lasted a few seasons, but it was pretty fun while it lasted. During those few seasons, the show made plenty of references to I Dream of Jeannie.
In one of the episodes, one of the band members stumbles upon a genie lamp and a genie appears from inside of it. In response, Davy Jones cries out, “Imagine that—wrong show!” Only I Dream of Jeannie fans would understand the reference, but still – pretty hilarious if you ask us!
22. The cast all got to meet Buzz Aldrin
Because Larry Hagman’s character on the show was an astronaut, the entire cast had a pretty cool opportunity. Together, they took a trip to Cape Canaveral, Florida and Barbara Eden got to launch a weather rocket… in her Jeannie costume!
But that’s not all. The cast also got to meet Buzz Aldrin (who, along with Neil Armstrong, was the first human to land on the Moon) before his Apollo 11 mission! The cast went to a dinner where Buzz Aldrin came as a special guest and Barbara was honored.
23. Larry Hagman found out that the show had been cancelled from an unusual source
After five seasons, sitcom series, I Dream of Jeannie was cancelled in 1970. Apparently, no one told Larry Hagman that there wouldn’t be a sixth season of the show. This meant he had to find out in a pretty unusual way.
Hagman was on a vacation in South America when the show was cancelled, and when he got back he went straight to his dressing room to grab a couple of things. While he was there, one of the security guards told him that the show had been cancelled. Hagman’s response? “Wow, that was real Hollywood.”
24. The two stars were reunited on the set of Dallas
I Dream of Jeannie wasn’t the end of Barbara Eden or Harry Lagman’s career, nor was it the end of their time working together. The two were reunited on screen in the CBS soap opera, Dallas, which follows the Ewing family and their oil empire.
In the series, Larry Hagman played J.R. Ewing and Barbara joined the cast for a couple of episodes to play J.R.’s ex lover who was trying to amass money from him. There wasn’t much reference to their time on I Dream of Jeannie, except for the time that Eden’s character mentioned her maiden name was “Nelson.”
Source: Fame Focus
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