I Dream of Jeannie was conjured up by network chiefs at NBC after they witnessed the meteoric rise of Bewitched. To their delight, the series took off and ran from 1965 to 1970 with rave reviews and a 100 percent devoted following. The series focused on NASA Astronaut Tony Nelson alongside his Jeannie in a bottle.
The cast all hated one episode in particular…did you hate it too? Stick around to see which episode was so bad that it led to the series being canceled!
Here’s What You Didn’t Know… It was an endearing show that captured our imagination and still does so to this very day, even though it’s been more than 50 years since it first went on the air. In this article, we catch you up on the show’s characters, tell you where they are today, and share some interesting and shocking facts from the hit television series.
Even if you consider yourself a major fan of the classic show, you’re bound to learn a lot.
Fact #1: Barbara Eden was pregnant for the first few episodes of the shows premiere
Larry Hagman (Then)
Fact #2: Hagman had a drinking problem that caused weird situations
No surprise here — A lot of famous people have drinking and drug problems. When Hagman drank, which occurred with more frequency as he became increasingly dissatisfied with the show, his champagne-fueled personality reared its ugly head. At one point he turned up on set for filming while wearing a gorilla suit. During a scary moment he appeared up on set with an axe and started a profane tirade that scared a group of nuns.
Larry Hagman (Now)
Fact #3: Hagman learned the show was cancelled from a studio guard
Hagman learned that the show was being cancelled by a guard on the studio lot where the TV series was filmed. He was on vacation in South America following filming of the series’ fifth season. When he returned from his trip he wanted to grab something from his dressing room. The guard informed him that the show was no longer in production.
Bill Daily (Then)
Bill Daily (Now)
He would later go on to take a role on “The Bob Newhart Show” as the Hartley’s neighbor Roger Howard. He also played Larry the psychiatrist on the oddball sitcom “Alf,” which is a role I personally still fondly remember today. He also returned to his Roger Healey role in both of the TV movies for “I Dream of Jeannie.” He currently lives in New Mexico with his third wife, Becky. On occasion he will appear as a guest host on an Albuquerque radio station.
Fact #4: Phil Spector was on the show before he became a murderer
William Rorke (Then)
“I Dream of Jeannie” didn’t have a large cast. In fact, the only other semi-regular character was the NASA psychiatrist Dr. Bellows, who was brilliantly played by William Rorke.
William Rorke (Today)
Fact #5: Barbara Eden acted as a lion whisperer
She explained to Hagman that he needed to “stand very still” and allow the lion to smell him. After that she told him to “lean forward very, very gingerly and stroke him as gently as you can.” Hagman apparently proclaimed, “I’m not making friends with any lion!” The lion got along great with Eden but roared with the full muster of a mighty king of the jungle the moment Hagman stepped on the set to film.
Fact #6: The first season didn’t even have a theme song
Fun Fact #7: Barbara Eden thought Tony and Jeannie getting married was a huge mistake
She pointed out that Jeannie was first and foremost not a human. She also realized that it would break the show’s sexual tension and destroy its credibility.
Fun Fact #8: “The Monkees”
Fun Fact #9: Originally the story was that Jeannie was turned into a genie
Producers said she was turned and forced to live in a bottle after refusing to marry Blue Djinn. The storyline was later changed to claim that Jeannie and her family had always been genies.
Fun Fact #10: The first season of the show marked the last network TV show to be filmed in black and white
Fun Fact #11: Did you ever notice how Jeannie and Tony never closed a bedroom door?
When they went into a bedroom together, even if she turned into pink smoke, Jeannie had to be shown leaving the room. That was all because of strict censorship rules.
Fun Fact #12: Jeannie’s evil dark haired twin sister was also played by Barbara Eden
Eden Wasn’t Just A Lion Whisperer. She Also Wasn’t Afraid Of The Deadly Animal.
There’s a funny story about the episode in which a real lion was used on set. At one point the lion let out a huge roar and every single guy on the set fled the scene. They were terrified that they were about to be killed by the mighty beast. Barbara Eden didn’t flinch a muscle. She calmly walked up to the lion and started to pet him. The lion soon regained its composure and filming resumed.
The Pilot Episode Was Filmed In Freezing Conditions
The Proclivities Of The Main Characters Were Often Questioned
Barbara Eden always thought that Jeannie was “a tomboy” but her fans seemed to think otherwise. During an interview with former co-star Larry Hagman, he revealed, “Here’s a guy who’s square and there’s this beautiful, gorgeous woman putting the make on him all the time and he says, ‘no, no, no I have my career…’” That explains why it took them so long for them to finally tie the knot — of course the actors didn’t want the marriage to happen at all.
Jeannie’s Harem Costumes Were Constantly Getting Destroyed
Eden was so physical in her costumes that she was constantly catching them on her heels. Every single time her costumes were ripped they would be replaced. That led to a lot of work for the show’s costume designers and it meant that very few outfits remained after the show stopped filming.
Barbara Eden Kept The Original Jeannie Bottle In A Bank Vault
Jeannie’s Bottle Wasn’t Exactly A High-Tech Prop
That famous bottle was made out of an old Jim Beam decanter from 1964. It was a simple solution but the proper department still spent several hundred dollars to have it hand painted and decorated. Because of the cost, everyone was careful with the original Jeannie bottle, ensuring that it never broke and had to be replaced.
Jeannie’s Belly Button Wasn’t Allowed To Show
The Entire Set Was Burned Down When Production Ended
The Publicity Stunt Nobody Actually Wanted
NBC’s publicity department staged a fake wedding for Eden and Hagman exactly one week before the wedding episode was set to air. They invited TV writers from around the country to attend the wedding at the Officers’ Club at Patrick Air Force Base. The wedding episode was hated by both of the actors and their fans. Ultimately nobody felt the nuptials were sincere or practical and they turned away from the show which was canceled shortly after the wedding episode aired.
Hanna-Barbera Turned The Show Into A Loosely-Based Cartoon
The TV Show Was Inspired By A Movie
Sheldon loved the movie “The Brass Bottle” and decided to base the TV show off that movie. It features Tony Randall, Barbara Eden, and Burl Ives. He liked the idea of a beautiful female genie and started to create his show around that premise. So despite other claims, the show was not a direct ripoff of “Bewitched” as some people have thought for many years.
Magic Kept The Show In Black And White For the First Season
The Hollywood Hills And Other California Landmarks
The TV series was supposed to take place in and around the Cape Kennedy, Florida area. Nelson lived at 1020 Palm Drive in Cocoa Beach. However, the exterior of the building where Healey’s office was located was actually the main building at the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, north of Los Angeles. Early Cocoa Beach episodes were shot with mountains in the background or more specifically the Hollywood Hills.
Eden Spoke For Space Days in 1996
Jeannie’s Bottle Changed Color
Jeannie’s bottle was changed to a different color when the show moved from black and white to color. The bottle was originally a smoke-green color with a painted gold-leaf pattern for an antique look. It was even described as a “green bottle” in the first season. When the show turned to color it was colored purple. It remained the new color from the second to fifth seasons. It was a change most viewers didn’t recognize because of the transition.
The Show Was It’s Most Popular In Re-Runs
NASA Astronauts Were Not In The Area
Astronauts in Florida? The show made that claim but based on when it aired the statement was incorrect. NASA’s astronauts had moved on from Florida and were training at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas. It is now called the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. It was a fictional series so they could play loose with those type of facts so we forgive them for this inaccuracy.
Charmed Had A Shout Out For I Dream of Jeannie
The Show’s Title Came From An 1854 Parlor Ballad
“I Dream of Jeannie” isn’t just a clever play on words for “genie” it is also the name of an 1854 parlor ballad. The original song is called, “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair,” by singer Stephen Foster. The opening line for the song is, “I Dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair.” Apparently the entire TV show was based of already existing movies and music. That’s actually a pretty broad span of time to combine influences for a single show.
Jeannie Was On Brady Bunch
If you watched the TV movie special A Very Brady Sequel you probably noticed that Barbara Eden revived her role as Jeannie for a short period of time. She showed up at Mike and Carol Brady’s second wedding and introducing herself as Mike Brady’s wife. It was a shocking twist for fans and proved to any doubters that Barbara Eden was a star to not be forgotten.
Fact Checking Wasn’t A Priority
Barbara Eden Joined Larry Hagman On ‘Dallas’
In 1990, the stars of “I Dream of Jeannie” reunited on the set of “Dallas” where Larry Hagman played the iconic role of J.R. Ewing. She appeared in a five episode arc as the character Lee Ann De La Vega. In her final episode, the character admits that her maiden name was “Lee Ann Nelson. It was a funny moment and a jab at their much-hated marriage on “I Dream Of Jeannie.”
It Was Only A Top 30 Show On Two Occasions
The Show’s Producers Didn’t Want A Blonde
Barbara Eden did a great job as a blonde genie but her hair color nearly cost her the job. The show’s producers wanted to distance the series from “Bewitched.” After many rounds of casting they couldn’t find anyone better than Eden to play the role and they decided to cast her in the role. It worked out and the show had five seasons before it was canceled. Producers ultimately said Eden’s sexiness, humor, and warmth helped her land the role.
Barbara Eden (Then)
Barbara Eden (Now)
The end of this amazing show didn’t mark the end of Eden’s time playing Jeannie. She would return for two TV movies: “I Dream of Jeannie: 15 Years Later” which aired in 1985, and “I Still Dream of Jeannie,” which appeared in 1991. Other roles for Eden included the short-lived TV series “Harper Valley,” PTA. She appeared with Hagman once again in 1990 while filming five episodes of “Dallas.” In 2006 she and Larry Hagman were back at it again, touring for the DVD release of the first season of “I Dream of Jeannie.”
Hagman Became Known As ‘The Mad Monk Of Malibu’
Jeannie’s Origin Story Is A Muddled Mess
Jeannie wasn’t always a genie. Originally the story was told that she was a young mortal woman who refused to marry the powerful Blue Djinn. For her disobedience he turned her into a genie and then forced her to live in a bottle. Later, producers altered her story, claiming that Jeannie and her family were always genies, but her rejection of the Blue Djinn led to her banishment into her bottle.
Barbara Eden’s Husband Appeared On The Show
Larry Hagman First Found Success On The Stage
Many fans of Larry Hagman might not realize that his first success came on the New York stage. That success was followed up by various TV roles before he hit it big on “I Dream of Jeannie.” His mother was Broadway actress Mary Martin and his dad was lawyer Benjamin Hagman. His classical theater training definitely paid off during his time on the show and eventually on the hit series, “Dallas.” His mom starred in such Broadway productions as “South Pacific,” “Peter Pan,” and “The Sound of Music.”
Barbara Eden Didn’t Have Much Female Competition
You may have noticed that this actor suddenly disappeared from the series. Sadly, MacLane was battling a nasty round of pneumonia when he suddenly passed away. MacLane was best known as a character actor who made various appearances before his death. A tragic end for a great actor.
The I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched Connection
The Show’s Creator Had An Amazing Track Record
Sidney Sheldon knew what it took to create hit shows in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. He created “The Patty Duke Show” which ran from 1963-1966 and “Hart to Hart” (1979-1984). He also authored some best-selling novels including “The Other Side of Midnight” (1973) and “Rage of Angels” (1980). Sadly, he died in 2007, but his legacy lives on in syndication and paperback.
Eden Would Suffer A Tragic Loss
How Jeannie Summoned Magic Changed
One of the most iconic gestures in TV history is how Jeannie summoned her magical powers. We all know that she would nod her head and blink once. Originally, she would fold her arms and make a series of eye flutters. The show definitely wouldn’t have been the same without this famous magical movement.
A Fired Bewitched Writer Created ‘Jeannie II’
Warner Brothers Still Uses The Nelson Home
While it is no longer used for filming a TV series, the Nelson home is still standing and in use on the Warner Brothers Ranch in Burbank, California. The home is now used as the Ranch Operations office. There has been some minor cosmetic changes to the home but for the most part it remains largely unchanged after 50 years.
Hagman and Daily Served In The Military
Larry Hagman Has Openly Admitted To His Drug And Alcohol Issues
Larry Hagman, as we previously discussed, was prone to drinking a lot throughout filming. What many fans may not realize, is that he also admitted to being high on drugs during the filming of many scenes. Barbara Eden wrote in her 2011 autobiography “Jeannie Out of the Bottle” that he never regretted his drinking and drug use during filming, but worried about how it impacted his health.
A Messed Up Ranking
Two Reunion Movies Were Filmed
15 years after the beloved sitcom had ended, NBC premiered “I Dream Of Jeannie… Fifteen Years Later.” 6 years later in 1991, “I Still Dream Of Jeannie” was the second reunion film to be premiered. The made for TV movies chronicled the life of the happy, magical housewife and both her marriage to Tony Nelson, as well as their teenage son. Barbara Eden had once again put on her crop top and reunited with the character once again.
“I Dream Of Jeannie… Fifteen Years Later”
There Was Trouble In Nelson Paradise
The plotline centered on Major Nelson’s promotion causing a rift between him and Jeannie, just as evil Jeannie hatched a diabolical plan to destroy the pair’s marriage. As Tony becomes fatally endangered in space Jeannie is trapped her bottle, until their son, T.J. magically releases her, and the two make a deal for Tony’s life. In order to stop an oncoming meteoroid, Jeannie must leave Tony, and it’ll be as if she never existed. However, she finds a loophole and enchants a “new beginning” with her once-husband, using her powers to lure him into her presence on a street corner.
Taking A Stroll Down Memory Lane
“I Still Dream Of Jeannie”
For the second reunion film, “I Still Dream Of Jeannie” only two cast members reprised their roles; Barbara Eden and Bill Daily. The 1991 movie was filmed in British Columbia, Canada and is the final installment of the Jeannie franchise. Sony chose to not move forward with a DVD release and it remained strictly for television audiences.
If Jeannie Was A Single Lady
“I Dream Of Jeannie” And “Friends” Share Some Major Connections
John Bennett Perry was the actor who played the owner of the sporting goods store on the “I Dream of Jeannie: 15 Years Later” movie. His son is none other than “Friends” actor Matthew Perry! The fountain featured in the opening sequence of “Friends” was also seen in various episodes of “I Dream of Jeannie.” In fact, that fountain is located just across the street from the Nelson house on what is now Warner Ranch.