Secrets About Life on the Set of I Dream of Jeannie
I Dream Of Jeannie earned its spot as a 1960s classic television show. The beautiful blonde genie that showed up in astronaut Tony Nelson's life has since become as recognizable a character as Fred Flinstone. Life on the set of this TV show, however, was not as light-hearted it appeared. These lesser-known facts about I Dream of Jeannie will give you a new perspective on the playful comedy.
The Scandalous Belly Button
Barbara Eden's outfit as Jeannie took audiences by surprise — after all, it was not common to see so much skin on a 1960's television show. To mitigate the controversy caused by Eden’s clothing, the show had to get creative.
The Real Jeannie's Bottle
You might imagine that a genie's bottle would have a handle and a long spout like something out of Aladdin, but Jeannie's bottle was much different. It was tall, narrow and purple, and its true origins are surprising. The bottle viewers often see on the show? It was originally a limited edition bottle of Jim Beam whiskey.
Larry Hagman Wasn't Happy
Any die-hard fan of the show knows that Larry Hagman, the man behind Jeannie's "master" Tony Nelson, was absolutely miserable on set. There are several theories as to why he hated the job so much, but many believe it had to do with Barbara Eden outshining him.
The Crew Wasn't Happy With Larry Hagman
Thanks to Larry Hagman's bad attitude on set, the rest of the crew wasn't happy, either. He expressed his dissatisfaction with his role through rude behavior and sometimes outright insulting everyone around him. The cast and crew had to put up with it — but they had their small forms of revenge.
The Stiff Competition
There was another show on air during I Dream of Jeannie's tenure that bore many similarities to the comedic fantasy. This was the equally popular Bewitched, starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York. As many viewers noticed, both shows were built around the combination of "normal" life and magical beings, and Barbara Eden and Elizabeth Montgomery even resembled each other somewhat
It Wasn't Easy Returning to Jeannie's Bottle
In the show, all the audience saw was a puff of smoke when Jeannie magically returned inside her bottle. On set, however, getting into the bottle wasn't such an easy endeavor. Eden had to make some awkward maneuvers to pull it off.
Trapped in a Bottle
Because the bottle was such a complicated set piece, Eden couldn’t actually exit it without assistance. On one occasion, she actually got trapped inside during shooting. The irony surely wasn’t lost on her.
Its Popularity Was Unexpected
As it turns out, no one thought I Dream of Jeannie would last for more than one season. Initially, the network wasn't even willing to film the show in color — they didn't want to spend the extra money. That's why the first season was filmed in black and white.
It wasn't just Barbara Eden's belly button that was highly scrutinized by network executives. They had strict rules regarding Barabra Eden's body and how much of it could be visible, including that her legs could never be shown.
Jeannie Was Blonde Because of Barbara Eden
Originally, producers were against casting a blonde Jeannie. When Barabra Eden auditioned for the part, however, they fell in love with her. They tried to convince her to dye her hair brown for the show, but Eden wasn't having any of it.
Hagman Self-Medicated to Get by
There are plenty of stories about Larry Hagman's behavior on set, and many of them involve his substance abuse. In an attempt to cope with his profound dissatisfaction with the show, he allegedly self-medicated with alcohol and marijuana. It began first thing in the morning, according to Eden.
Jeannie’s Ever-Changing Backstory
Jeannie’s origin story underwent some changes over the course of the show. In the first episode, Jeannie explained that she was trapped in the bottle by an evil djinn 2,000 years ago and that she was once a normal human woman.
Eden Loved the Lion on Set
Barbara Eden confessed in an interview that one of her favorite I Dream of Jeannie episodes was the one with the lion. In the episode, Jeannie decided she wants to have a pet around to keep her company, so she conjured up a ferocious feline.
Hagman's Antics Were Ridiculous
Larry Hagman didn't just drink and smoke on set. Rumor has it that Hagman actually vomited and urinated on some of the props following a script he found particularly upsetting. It's a wonder Barbara Eden put up with him!
The Secret Behind That Impressive Updo
If you've seen even one episode of I Dream of Jeannie, you can appreciate the impressiveness of Barbara Eden's towering updo. She sported some blonde bangs, a thick twist of a braid, and a ponytail that cascades to her shoulders. Could all of that hair have belonged to Eden?
They Masterfully Hid Eden's Pregnancy
Eden learned she was pregnant only halfway into I Dream of Jeannie's first season. Given that Eden's character typically went around with her midriff exposed, getting pregnant could have proven problematic. Thankfully, the show found a way to work around it.
The inspiration behind the show and its title is older than you might think. Part of what gave the creators the idea was an old song from the 1800s that went, "I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair / Borne, like a vapor, on the summer air."
An Exciting — But Cold — Beginning
When watching I Dream of Jeannie, you might not consider the consequences of Eden having to walk around with so little clothing on all the time. According to Eden, it wasn’t always so glamorous to have so little protection from the cold.
Eden Still Wears Her Costume Decades Later
Barbara Eden doesn't let her age interfere with her ability to rock the Jeannie costume. During the I Dream of Jeannie 50th anniversary, she donned her old costume and took to the stage — midriff and all. Eden was 78 years old at the time and looked just as stunning as ever.
Eden Tried to Warn Producers
There is one event in the I Dream of Jeannie series that is widely recognized as the show's downfall. In the final season, Tony Nelson and Jeannie got married. The network was pleased by the change — they'd received criticism over having the unmarried Jeannie live with Tony — but the actors weren't so happy.
Hagman Was the Last to Know
For unknown reasons, Larry Hagman was not formally informed when the show got canceled. Even his agent wasn’t tolf. Story has it that Hagman had just returned from a vacation overseas when he visited the set to retrieve some personal items and found out about the decision.
They Burned the Set to the Ground
When the classic comedy finally came to an end, they didn't know what to do with all of the props and set pieces. It was too expensive to transport them or find an alternative home, so they simply set everything aflame. I Dream of Jeannie burned to the ground.
Eden Is Adamant Jeannie Isn't Human
oVER the years, Barbara Eden has been quick to remind viewers that her character Jeannie is not, in fact, human. This is part of why she objected to the marriage with Tony Nelson — the two don't even belong to the same species!
The Evil Djinn Was Eden's Beau
The original premise of the show was that Jeannie actually had been human once upon a time. In that storyline, Jeannie was imprisoned in her bottle by an evil Djinn who wanted to punish her. The djinn was played by none other than Michael Ansara, Eden's husband.
Bill Daily Needed Extra Support
Actor Bill Daily played the role of a NASA astronaut on I Dream of Jeannie. His character, Roger Healy, was Tony Nelson's best friend on the show and held a significant spot in the action. His hilarious antics made him a favorite among fans, but things weren't so easy off-screen.
An Unexpected Connection
I Dream of Jeannie shared a network with the popular show The Monkees. In one "The Spy Who Came in From the Cool" , observant viewers may have noticed a funny reference to I Dream of Jeannie: a scene with a very familiar lamp.
The Original Inspiration for the Show
1800s songs aside, I Dream of Jeannie is mainly based on the 1964 film The Brass Bottle. The movie starred Barbara Eden, although she wasn't the genie in that one — instead, she was the girlfriend of the main character. This role was crucial to her landing the part of Jeannie on the show.
Plenty of Blunders
Television shows nowadays are held to much higher standards when it comes to fact-checking. In the 60's, however, plenty of errors made it throuugh. One of these blunders in I Dream of Jeannie came in one of Tony Nelson's discussions about NASA. He talked about their headquarters being in Florida, but NASA was really in Texas at the time.
A Heated Conflict
Thanks to Larry Hagman's insufferable behavior on set, he didn't always get along with the visiting actors. Usually, these disagreements didn't escalate too far, but one exception came when Sammy Davis Jr. of Rat Pack fame made a guest appearance.
An Unlikely Reunion
I Dream of Jeannie has had a couple reunion specials over the years: one in 1985 and another, I Still Dream of Jeannie, in 1991. Fans appreciated these films, but there was another way in which Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman reunited decades later.