I Dream of Jeannie has a special place in all of our hearts, as well as a top spot in the list of most iconic television shows in history. Throughout years, secrets and behind the scenes tell-alls have revealed little-known facts that were hidden for years. We bet you’ve never heard these doozies before!
Jeannie Hid Her Pregnancy
When I Dream of Jeannie premiered in 1965, Barbara Eden was pregnant with her only son. For the first 10 episodes of the show’s first season, producers hid her pregnant belly with a whole top instead of the normative harem costume she’d be eternally remembered as wearing. After she gave birth, she began donning the crop top harem costume and the show quickly rose in ratings. We wish we could say we’re surprised but that’s show business folks.
Larry Hagman’s Substance Abuse
Larry Hagman was known for playing the irresistible Major Nelson but he had a few secrets off camera that the show’s audience wouldn’t know about for decades. Hagman struggled with alcohol and substance abuse that only heightened throughout the show’s run. Dissatisfied with I Dream of Jeannie’s direction and the character he feared he would be type-casted as, Hagman’s drinking and drug use became a consistent issue. He was intoxicated during filming and began showing up on set in strange questions and scaring the crew members. One time, he dressed up as a nun and swung an ax around the set, which made everyone frightened for obvious reasons.
Larry Hagman’s Final Notice
When the time came for I Dream of Jeannie to go off the air, Larry Hagman granted the courtesy of being informed by the show’s producers. Instead, Hagman had learned that the show was canceled from a studio guard. After returning from a vacation in South America, which Hagman took after completing filming for the show’s 5th season, he attempted to drive onto the studio lot and retrieve something from his dressing room. The actor was denied access by the guard, who nonchalantly explained that Jeannie was no longer in production.
Phil Spector’s Famous Cameo
Long before Phil Spector was put on trial (and retrial) for the 2003 murder of an actress named Lana Clarkson, he was a famous music producer who had a guest spot on I Dream of Jeannie. Throughout the episode, he was referred and spoken to as “Phil Spector.” In the running credits, he’s listed as Steve Davis. During airtime, Jeannie refers to him herself as “Mr. Phil Spector.” The name listing is never clarified but maybe it was just an on-screen blooper that was left in the episode for comedic relief.
Jeannie The Lion Tamer
Barbara Eden had a soothing personality and a calm demeanor. This must’ve been why the lion who played her pet on an episode in season 1 took so well to her. Larry Hagman, on the other hand, didn’t have such an easy time with the mighty cat. Barbara told her co-star to “lean forward very, very gingerly and stroke him as gently as you can.” Hagman responded, “I’m not making friends with any (expletive) lion!” From this point forward, the lion roared with all of his strength when Larry Hagman arrived on set.
Marriage Or Bust
Barbara Eden strongly opposed the marriage between Jeannie and Major Nelson. She asserted that Jeannie was not a human, which made the union invalid and believed that sexual tension was one of the show’s most endearing characteristics. Within the confines of marriage, sexual tension tends to decrease a bit. Doesn’t it? Regardless, after the wedding episode aired, the show was canceled. As it turns out, no one knew Jeannie and Major Nelson’s fans better than the actors who played the characters on-screen.
The Monkees Dream Of Jeannie
The Monkees and I Dream of Jeannie were aired on the same network and often made silly references towards one another in good fun. In an episode of The Monkees, one of the band members find Jeannie’s lamp and swiftly sets it down after stating, “Imagine that, wrong show.” In return, I Dream of Jeannie also made a few shout-outs to The Monkees. Here and there, Monkees songs can be heard in the background of scenes and in one episode, Bobby Hart has a cameo and is shown holding a Monkees record in his scene. For those who don’t know, Bobby actually co-wrote some of The Monkees tunes!
Bye-Bye Black & White
The first season of I Dream of Jeannie marked the last of the black and white tv shows on the air. There were to reasons producers wanted to keep the show black and white, at least for the first season it ran. One: it was too difficult to edit the color of Jeannie’s smoke cloud. Producers wanted the smoke to appear pink on screen but their visual effects weren’t able to accomplish this at the time. Two: It would have cost them $400 more to air the show in color. By the time the second season completed filming, they were able to properly alter the smoke’s color on camera to pink and had generated enough interest and profit to spend the extra dough on airing Jeannie in color.
Censoring The Bedroom Scenes
Strict censorship in the 60’s often dictated that any sexual undertones be removed or that such implication should be avoided. In the world of I Dream of Jeannie, even though sexual tension was clearly present between our favorite leading lady and Major Nelson, producers went to great lengths to follow censorship guidelines. Whenever Jeannie and the Major entered a room together, the door had to remain open. Furthermore, Jeannie or Major Nelson had to be shown exiting the room alone, and this included Jeannie’s disappearing act in a cloud of pink smoke.
Freezing Cold First Encounter
The location of I Dream of Jeannie’s pilot episode was freezing at the time of filming. In Zuma Beach, Malibu the Major and Jeannie met for the first time and Barbara Eden still remembers it as her favorite scene to date. The beach was supposed to resemble an isolated island in the South Pacific; it’s too bad the weather couldn’t be identical to the tropical location! The pilot episode for I Dream of Jeannie was called “The Lady in the Bottle” and we see Major Nelson stumble upon his magic genie for the first time.
Jeannie’s Harem Malfunctions
Barbara Eden wished she could have kept a closet full of Jeannie outfits after her time on the show but unfortunately, there were way too many wardrobe malfunctions while filming. As the great physical comedian that she is, Barbara remained active on set regardless of the restrictive harem costume she wore for years. Her heels kept getting caught in the fabric of her pant legs and they would tear right off! The show’s costume designers were repeatedly sewing, restoring, and making new harem-wear for the actress.
Genie In A Vault
Barbara Eden did manage to get a hold of (and keep for a long time), one of the most valuable on set props seen on every episode of the show. Yes, you guessed it! The beautiful and ever so regal genie bottle. The original bottle sat in her personal bank vault for years, until she eventually decided to donate it to the Smithsonian Institution, located in Washington D.C. Until this day, it’s one of the most famous and visited tv props in history.
How Is The Bottle Made?
You might not believe us, but we’re going to tell you anyway! The original genie bottle is actually made from an old, 1964 Jim Bean decanter. To make it look authentic (and not like a bottle of alcohol), the props department had it hand painted and decorated for a few hundred bucks. During the first season, the bottle was handcrafted in black and gold but when I Dream of Jeannie joined the world of color in its second season, the bottle was remodeled to glam up the show and the glamorous persona of Barbara Eden.
Does Jeannie Have A Belly Button?
Remember those censorship rules we talked about? Well, if you remember never catching a glimpse of Barbara Eden’s belly button in her harem costume, then you can blame censorship regulations for that. Showing a little bit of skin was permitted in the 60’s (you know, free love and all) but there was something very specific about the belly button and its correlation with unbridled sexuality. As long as Jeannie kept her pants up, no problems were to be had on the set or from the general public.
Set The Set On Fire!
After I Dream of Jeannie was canceled, the show’s producers had to decide what to do with the set and all of its props. What did they decide? Oh, you know. Just to burn the entire thing down! In Hollywood, during the 50’s and 60’s, it was quite expensive to store collective sets and the loose materials that decorated them and to be completely honest, it wasn’t worth spending the money if it no longer served a purpose. The crew burned down Jeannie and Major Nelson’s “home” just outside the studio to avoid a large expense with no payback.
“The Brass Bottle”
The Brass Bottle was a feature film released in 1964 and starred Barbara Eden, Tony Randall, and Burl Ilves. The movie had such a grand impact on Sidney Sheldon (I Dream of Jeannie’s creator), and inspired the plot for the hit tv series. Funny enough, Barbara didn’t play the genie in The Brass Bottle film – Burl Ives was responsible for bringing the big screen version of a small-time genie to life. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of people still assume that I Dream of Jeannie was influenced by Bewitched; this isn’t true, but there is a connection that’ll we get to shortly.
NASA Was Nowhere Near Florida
Before I Dream of Jeannie aired, NASA was located in Cape Canaveral, Florida. However, contrary to what Major Nelson led you to believe, NASA astronauts in the 60’s had relocated to Houston, Texas and were training at the Manned Spacecraft Center. Today, the Spacecraft Center is now called the Lyndon B. Johnson Center. The Kennedy Space Center also exists in Titusville, Florida today but still, it wasn’t around for the Jeannie days. On the next page, we explain just exactly why inaccuracies like this were permitted on the show…
In the 1960’s, fact checking wasn’t a thing – but apparently, censorship was, huh? I Dream of Jeannie had countless continuity mistakes and geographical inaccuracies. One of the most recognized errors in I Dream of Jeannie history was during an episode where Major Nelson informs Jeannie that he’s leaving on a trip to Italy. He tells her she once knew the country as Gaul but in actuality, Gaul was once the name of France – not Italy.
Producers Don’t Prefer Blondes
Believe it not, the producers of I Dream of Jeannie didn’t want a blonde to play the lead! The masterminds behind the Jeannie persona wanted to avoid as much similarity and comparison to Bewitched as possible; the problem was, they didn’t expect Barbara Eden to blow them away with her casting audition. Other actresses, notably brunettes, auditioned for the magical role but none could compare to Eden. Her warmth and humorous personality toppled over the issue with her blonde hair.
Jeannie Wasn’t Always A Genie
Jeannie’s origin story has always been a bit confusing but the tale goes like this, supposedly. As a young, mortal woman, Jeannie refused to give her hand in marriage to the powerful genie, Blue Djinn. This made him extremely angry, therefore, he turned Jeannie into one of his kind and cast her into the bottle to live for all eternity – that is, until she meets a master and can live outside in the real world. Later on, producers changed their mind and decided to claim that Jeannie was always a genie! But, the marriage plot still stuck.
That’s Barbara’s Hubby!
When we finally get to meet the Blue Djinn, he appears to the be the immortal enemy of our blonde, leading lady. What most fans aren’t aware of, is that the Blue Djinn was played by Barbara Eden’s husband in real life, Michael Ansara! Michael was one of the most popular guest characters to appear on the show and it’s difficult to ignore the natural chemistry that flows through Barbara and her husband, even though, they’re supposed to be at odds on screen.
Keeping The Focus On Barb
I Dream of Jeannie’s producers were loyal to the star of the show in all aspects of their televised efforts. Have you ever noticed that the only recurring role on the show played by another female was Amanda Bellows? This was because, surprisingly, the producers wanted to keep all eyes on Jeannie. They believed that making her the main focus of the show (and surrounded by men), would ensure their success. Eden was almost rejected for the role because of her hair color, as you recall, and this was a cinematic method of keeping her interesting.
What Happened To Barton?
Barton MacLane played General Martin Peterson on I Dream of Jeannie until 1969. Fans of the show were surprised when he suddenly disappeared, without a clear cut explanation to aid their curiosity. Sadly, Barton MacLane unexpectedly passed away of pneumonia. The cast of I Dream of Jeannie was disheartened to hear the news of his untimely death.
The Genie & Witch Unite!
It had to happen at some point, folks. Eventually, there was an obvious connection between the competing Bewitched series and the I Dream of Jeannie series. Uncle Arthur, played by Paul Lynd, originally debuted himself as an infamous jokester on Bewitched. Then, he appeared on I Dream of Jeannie 3 times as the same character! Later in the Jeannie series, he played a fitness instructor named Harry Huggins, who makes life slightly more than miserable for Major Nelson and Roger Healy.
Which Is The Right Way To Do Magic?
Jeannie’s harem costume and striking good looks weren’t the only noticeable attributes the actress contributed to the show. But, did you ever realize how her method to summon magic drastically changed over the first few seasons of the show? Originally, Jeannie would cross her arms and flutter her eyes. This eventually evolved into a head nod, accompanied by a blunt blink. At the time, she would still continue the arm cross as well. You never knew what you were going to get with Jeannie!
Property Of Warner Brothers
Until this very day, the Nelson home remains under the ownership of Warner Brothers Company is located in Warner Brothers Ranch in Burbank, California. It’s used as the Ranch Operations Office and has undergone some touch-ups and slight remodeling over the years. Since I Dream of Jeannie, the house hasn’t been used as a film or television show location for almost 50 years. It’s amazing to think that a home so iconic could be profoundly in tact for years still to come. Don’t you think??
Military Men Turned Actors
Life certainly imitated art in this classic tv show. Larry Hagman and Bill Daily shared professional experience with the characters they played. Larry Hagman served in the United States Air Force before taking the role of Anthony Nelson, also a Major in the Air Force. On the show, Roger Healy served in the US Army and in real life, actor Bill Daily served in the Korean War as an artillery expert.
First Season: No Theme Song
The I Dream of Jeannie theme song wasn’t created and introduced to the audience until its second season on air. The first season, which was released in black and white, went to the tune of beating drums and smoke sounds. For lack of a better vision, the producers couldn’t decide on a rhythm for the song, which is how the smokey drum effect stuck for a bit. The theme song that would become synonymous with the name Jeannie during the second season was far more orchestrated and was as upbeat as Jeannie’s personality.
The Little Wedding That Couldn’t
Earlier, we discussed how Barbara Eden opposed the idea of Jeannie and Major Nelson tying the knot. Shortly after the wedding episode aired, the show was abruptly canceled. What most contemporary fans of the show don’t know, is that one week prior to the episode’s release, producers staged a fake wedding between Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman hoping that the publicity would prove the dissatisfied actors wrong. Journalists and media photographers were invited to capture the moment but even the strategic publicity stunt couldn’t save the show from imminent cancellation.
No Fury Like A Bewitched Writer Scorned
James S. Henerson was a writer on Bewitched before he was fired for being employed by the Elizabeth Montgomery sitcom as well as I Dream of Jeannie. After he was let go, he created the evil twin character, affectionately known as Jeannie ll (also played by Barbara Eden). For anyone who often questioned the similarities between the two tv shows, this might give you the answer you’ve been searching for.
The Song That Started It All
I Dream of Jeannie wasn’t just based off of creator Sidney Sheldon’s favorite movie; it was also inspired by an old, English parlor ballad that was entitled “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair.” The first line of the reads “I Dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair” – this might explain the producers’ original desire for a leading lady with brunette hair as opposed to Barbara Eden’s beautiful blonde locks. The ballad dates back to around 1854, which is fairly old considering the time gap that spans between it and The Brass Bottle movie.
Crashing The Brady Bunch
The Brady Bunch was is its own famous, super-successful sitcom during the 70’s. The two never intertwined back in their hay days but a surprising cameo made by Barbara Eden made heads pleasantly turn in A Very Very Sequel. At the end of the contemporary film, starring Shelley Long and Gary Cole, Barbara reprised her role as Jeannie, looking for Mike Brady. She casually walked up to the Brady residence, during a vow renewal ceremony, and said “I’m looking for Mike Brady. I’m his wife!”
That Famous Dallas Joke
Even with his boorish behavior and drunken disposition, Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman were friends until the end. He once publicly stated about his former co-star, “Barbara Eden is the most beautiful girl in the world.” As standing testimony to their lifelong friendship, Barbara joined Larry on Dallas in 1991 as a former lover he had gotten pregnant years earlier. They simultaneously paid homage to their Jeannie roles and mutual hatred for their characters’ marriage with a simple joke at the conclusion of her character arch; before leaving Eden’s character tells J.R. Ewing that her maiden name is “Nelson.”
Barabara’s Lost Son
Do you remember when we told you that Barbara Eden was pregnant during the first season of I Dream of Jeannie? And, the producers covered it up during filming? That son was the only child of Michael Ansara and Barbara Eden, who would sadly, pass away of an overdose in 2001. The couple, who divorced after 6 years of marriage in 1974, didn’t go into details surrounding their son’s death – only that it happened and it was a tragic loss for both of them.
The Re-Run Revival
Despite its popularity in the 60’s, I Dream of Jeannie made a huge comeback when the re-runs began airing a few decades after its cancellation. During its prime, Jeannie never claimed the top spot amongst its classic contenders on the small screen during its original air time. The show became notoriously popular by re-runs alone, and received a 13 rating as well as a 23 share of the audience. I Dream of Jeannie is one of the few shows in history to become more popular years after it was canceled.
Larry Flies Under The Radar.. Sort Of
After the show was canceled, Larry Hagman became known as the Monk of Malibu. He was half shut-in, half crazy man. Hagman was seen driving around the streets of Malibu on his Harley Davidson, while wearing a chicken suit! He decided to get sober before he resurrected his career as J.R. Ewing in the long-running series, Dallas. By 1978, after years of flying under the radar, Hagman emerged as a new man in a fresh, exciting role.
Larry Admits He Has A Problem
Larry Hagman’s drug and alcohol abuse may have been an obvious problem at the time of filming but the late actor never publicly admitted his struggle with dependency until his later years in life. In her 2011 autobiography, Barbara Eden confessed, “he never regretted his drinking and drug use during filming, but worried about how it impacted his health.” Hagman passed away in 2012 at the age of 81. He succumbed to symptoms of acute leukemia.
The Reunion Project
15 years after I Dream of Jeannie went off the air, Barbara returned in 2 reunion specials; I Dream of Jeannie… 15 Years Later and I Still Dream of Jeannie. Both projects were made for tv movies that gave their old school (and loyal) audience a solid, nostalgia fix and were moderately successful. The reunion films covered life and love after marriage, between Major Nelson and Jeannie, as well as the upbringing of their teenage son.
Dreaming Of Jeannie 15 Years Later
The first made-for-tv reunion film, I Dream of Jeannie… 15 Years Later, premiered on NBC in 1985. Unfortunately, Larry Hagman had become a critical success on the television Dallas and was unable to participate in the reunion special. Instead, actor Wayne Rogers stepped in to play the role of Major Nelson. Additionally, Bill Daly returned to play Roger Healy, and Hayden Rorke reprised his role as NASA psychiatrist, Dr. Alfred Bellows.
What If Jeannie And Mr. Nelson Never Met?
In I Dream of Jeannie… 15 Years Later, evil Jeannie ll casts a curse on Jeannie and Major Nelson, banishing our heroine to her bottle and Nelson to outer space. When Jeannie’s son finds her and releases her from bottled captivity, they discover a meteoroid will hit Major Nelson in space. To save his life, Jeannie makes a deal that she and her son will leave Major Nelson and it will be as if she never existed. She has a plan, though! After his life is saved, she hatches a “new beginning” spell and their classic pair fall in love all over again.
Same Beach… 15 Years Later
Another cool plot point regarding I Dream of Jeannie… 15 Years Later, is the beach reunion that kicks nostalgia in the butt! Jeannie and Major Nelson reunite in the film’s final beach scene, which happens to be the same beach in California the original pilot was shot at! Do you remember we told you how freezing cold it was? It’s just too bad the original Major Nelson couldn’t be a part of the magic.
Still Dreaming Of Jeannie
The second reunion project, I Still Dream of Jeannie, wasn’t as big of a commercial success as I Dream of Jeannie… 15 Years Later was. The only two actors to return for the final installment of the franchise in 1991 was Bill Daily and Barbara Eden. Filmed in British Columbia, the made-for-tv film remained solely available to television viewers. Unfortunately, there would be no DVD release of the second I Dream of Jeannie reunion.
The Bottled Bachelorette
In Jeannie’s final adventure, we see her mingle as a single genie after Major Nelson is deployed to outer space indefinitely. Jeannie doesn’t want to give up on her one true love but without a master in the mortal realm, she’ll be confined to her bottle for eternity. In lieu of his absence, the film’s producers developed this plot to explain Tony Nelson’s unsurprising absence, although, you do see him in the opening sequence of the film – in cartoon form only, though.
Top 30 Times 2
During its 5 year run, I Dream of Jeanie only managed to make it into the Top 30 twice. The highest ranking the show ever reached was number 26 and for the remainder of its career, remained below the 30 par, indefinitely. Despite its lackluster ratings during the 60’s, I Dream of Jeannie managed to cultivate a cult following that transformed into post-mainstream success. Its resurgence of popularity at the start of its re-run era proved that the younger generations find Jeannie just as enchanting as the older ones.
Jeannie’s 50th Anniversary
To properly celebrate the 50th Anniversary of I Dream of Jeannie, NBC aired a commemorative special with Barbara Eden as the guest of honor. Eden talked about what is what like to play such an iconic character that she gets to be reminded of every day, which surprisingly, is more than okay with the retired actress. She also made her confession for the first time in front of an audience, that she hated seeing Jeannie marry Nelson. Barbara Eden rocked this Jeannie costume live at the age of 78 years old! Once a screen siren always a screen siren!