Ms. Eden turns 79 today! YAY!
There are many reasons I love made for television movies and I have to say Barbara is high on that list. Unlike a lot of actresses who get stereotyped after a successful sitcom, Barbara was able to take her amiable supernatural alter ego and throw it out the window. She took on so many varied and interesting roles on the small screen, especially during the 70s, that I found it difficult to just think of her as Jeannie.
Born Barbara Jean Morehead in Tucson, Arizona, she worked her way up the tinsel town ladder by taking small roles on television (Burke’s Law, Father Knows Best, among many others). She didn’t change her name to Eden until 1965 and scored the role of a lifetime. She became everyone's favorite genie on the sweet and funny sitcom I Dream of Jeannie which ran from 1965 – 1969 (during this run, she married uber-hottie Michael Ansara). The forever curvy Eden was not just a hot bod either, her charisma and sparkling smile won the hearts of TV luvin’ Americans everywhere and the chemistry (and friendship) with her co-star Larry Hagman would continue on screen through the years, as they appeared together on Dallas and in the 1972 TV thriller A Howling in the Woods (and an unsold pilot called The Toy Game in 1973). In fact, Barbara became a TV movie mainstay after Jeannie, and she made many, many awesome films.
Here’s a list:
The Feminist and the Fuzz (1971)
A Howling in the Woods (1972, click on link for review)
The Woman Hunter (1972
Guess Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed? (1973)
The Stranger Within (1974, click on link for review)
Out To Lunch (1975)
Let’s Switch (1976)
How to Break up a Happy Divorce (1976)
Stonestreet: Who Killed the Centerfold Model (1977, click on link for review)
The Girls in the Office (1979)
Condominium (1980, click on link for review)
Return of the Rebels (1981, click on link for review)
Woman of the Year (1984)
I Dream of Jeannie: 15 Years Later (1985)
Stepford Children (1987)
Your Mother Wears Combat Boots (1989)
Opposites Attract (1990)
Her Wicked Ways (1991)
Hell Hath No Fury (1991)
I Still Dream of Jeannie (1991)
Visions of Murder (1993)
Eyes of Terror (1994, sequel to Visions of Murder)
Dead Man’s Island (1996)
Nite Club Confidential (1996)
Gentleman Prefer Blondes (1998)
Always and Forever (2009)
Also, in 1976 she appeared on the Telly Savalas variety special aptly titled, Who Loves Ya Baby! The show featured Diahann Carol and Cloris Leachman among others. What I remember most about this show was Telly doing a whole segment on telling kids not to give up their dreams, as he bets big at the race track! I’m not sure this is from that special, but here’s a link to a clip of Barbara showing off her amazing voice (embedding disabled! Boo!).
The movie that made me love her was The Stranger Within and it’s recently been released on DVD through Warner Archive. It’s an excellent horror film, full of thick tension and it intelligently plays off a fear of doctors and for women, a fear of childbirth. It’s definitely one of the scariest films of the 70s, a decade brimming with terrifying horror movies.
Barbara recently wrote a memoir called Jeannie Out of the Bottle where she talks about the personal heartbreaks of divorce and of losing her only child. It's set to be released in the spring of 2011.
Barbara still looks fantastic and I’m so glad to see she’s still working. She’s always added a little extra flavor to all of her productions and she made my favorite decade of TVMs something very, very special. I hope she has a wonderful day, and here’s to many more!
Please check out this fansite for some more on Barbara.