Barbara Eden

Barbara Eden (born Barbara Jean Morehead, August 23, 1931)[1] is an American film, stage, and television actress, and singer, best known for her starring role of "Jeannie" in the sitcom I Dream of Jeannie.

Barbara Eden
Barbara Eden walks the magenta carpet at Life Ball 2013 in Vienna
Barbara Jean Morehead

(1931-08-23) August 23, 1931
ResidenceBeverly Hills, California, U.S.
Other namesBarbara Huffman,
Barbara Eicholtz
EducationAbraham Lincoln High School
Alma materSan Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • actress
  • singer
Years active1955–present
Michael Ansara
(m. 1958; div. 1974)

Charles Fegert
(m. 1977; div. 1982)

Jon Eicholtz
(m. 1991)

Early years

Eden was born in 1931 in Tucson, Arizona, to Alice Mary (née Franklin; 1915–1986) and Hubert Henry Morehead (1911–1974).[2] For decades, her year of birth was thought to be 1934,[3][4] an age fabrication of three years. After her parents' divorce, her mother and she moved to San Francisco, where her mother married Harrison Connor Huffman, a telephone lineman, by whom she had a daughter, Eden's half-sister. The Great Depression deeply affected the family, and as they were unable to afford many luxuries, Alice entertained her children with singing.

Eden's first public performance was singing in the church choir, where she sang the solos. As a teenager, she sang in local bands for $10 (roughly equivalent to $130 in 2017) a night in night clubs. At age 16, she became a member of Actor's Equity, and studied singing at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and acting with the Elizabeth Holloway School of Theatre. She graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco in the Spring Class of 1949[5] and studied theater for one year at City College of San Francisco. As Barbara Huffman, she was elected Miss San Francisco in 1951 and she also entered the Miss California pageant.[6][7]

Television and film roles

Eden began her television career as a semiregular on The Johnny Carson Show in 1955[8][9] She also made featured appearances on shows such as The West Point Story, Highway Patrol, Private Secretary, I Love Lucy, The Millionaire, Target: The Corruptors!, Crossroads, Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, December Bride, Bachelor Father, Father Knows Best, Adventures in Paradise, The Andy Griffith Show, Cain's Hundred, Saints and Sinners, The Virginian, Slattery's People, The Rogues, and the series finale of Route 66. She guest-starred in four episodes of Burke's Law, playing different roles each time. She was an uncredited extra in the movie The Tarnished Angels with Rock Hudson, in partnership with 20th Century Fox studios. She then starred in the syndicated comedy TV series How to Marry a Millionaire. The series is based on the 1953 film of the same name.

Discovery in the Hollywood sense came when she starred in a play with James Drury. Film director Mark Robson, who later directed her in the movie From the Terrace, had come to the play and wanted her for 20th Century Fox studios. Her screen test was the Joanne Woodward role in No Down Payment (1957). Though she did not get the role, the studio gave her a contract. She did a screen test for the role of Betty Anderson in the 1957 film version of Peyton Place, but Terry Moore got the role. She had minor roles in Bailout at 43,000, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, and The Wayward Girl, and then became a leading lady in films and starred opposite Gary Crosby, Barry Coe, and Sal Mineo in A Private's Affair. She had a co-starring role in Flaming Star (1960), with Elvis Presley.

The following year, she played in a supporting role as Lt. Cathy Connors in Irwin Allen's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. She starred in The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, a George Pal-directed Cinerama film for MGM, and another Irwin Allen production for 20th Century Fox, Five Weeks in a Balloon (1962). She was the female lead in the 1962 Fox comedy Swingin' Along, starring Tommy Noonan and Peter Marshall, in their final joint screen appearance. She did a screen test with Andy Williams for the 20th Century Fox movie State Fair, but did not get the role.[10]

Her last film for 20th Century Fox was The Yellow Canary (1963). She left Fox and began guest-starring in television shows and acting in films for MGM, Universal, and Columbia. She played supporting roles over the next few years, including The Brass Bottle and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.

I Dream of Jeannie

Bewitched was the number-two show on television in 1964, and following on its heels, in 1965, producer Sidney Sheldon signed Eden to star in his up-and-coming fantasy sitcom I Dream of Jeannie that would air on NBC. After various brunette starlets and beauty queens unsuccessfully tried out for the role, Eden was approached by Sheldon, who had seen her in The Brass Bottle and had been recommended by various colleagues. Eden played Jeannie, a beautiful genie set free from her bottle by astronaut and United States Air Force Captain (later Major) Anthony "Tony" Nelson, played by Larry Hagman.

Eden played this role for five years and 139 episodes. Additionally, in eight episodes, Eden donned a brunette wig to portray Jeannie's evil sister (also named Jeannie) who lusts after Tony Nelson, and in two episodes played Jeannie's hapless mother.[11][12][13]

Later career

After Jeannie, Eden did an unaired pilot, The Barbara Eden Show,[8] as well as another pilot, The Toy Game. Her first TV movie was called The Feminist and the Fuzz. Although she is best known for comedy, most of these films were dramas, as when she starred opposite her Jeannie co-star Larry Hagman in A Howling in the Woods (1971).

In The Stranger Within (1974), Eden played housewife Ann Collins, a woman impregnated by extraterrestrials. Later, Eden played Liz Stonestreet, a former policewoman now private detective investigating the disappearance of a missing heiress, in a critically acclaimed TV movie Stonestreet: Who Killed the Centerfold Model? (1977). She starred in and co-produced, with her own production company (MI-Bar Productions), the NBC TV movie romantic comedy The Secret Life of Kathy McCormick (1988). She also starred in and produced the romantic comedy TV movie Opposites Attract (1990), co-starring John Forsythe.

In 1978, she starred in the feature film Harper Valley PTA, based on the popular country song. This led to a namesake television series in 1981. In both the movie and the TV series, Eden played the show's heroine, Stella Johnson. The show won 11 of its 13 time slots during its first season. It was a comedy version of Peyton Place, with Anne Francine playing wealthy villain Flora Simpson Reilly. In one episode, Stella dressed in a blue and gold genie costume and in another she played both Stella and her cousin Della Smith (similar to Jeannie's evil twin-sister character). The TV series Harper Valley PTA began January 16, 1981, and was renamed simply Harper Valley when the show began its second season on October 29, 1981. During this time, Eden also became the spokeswoman for L'eggs pantyhose and appeared in a series of print ads and TV commercials for the brand from 1979 to 1983.[14]

From April 3 through September 16, 1984, Eden starred in the Lee Guber and Shelly Gross national production of the John Kander and Fred Ebb Tony Award-winning musical comedy Woman of the Year, playing the role of Tess Harding Craig, alongside Don Chastain (as Sam Craig), and Marilyn Cooper. In 1990, Eden had a recurring role of a billionairess seeking revenge against J.R. Ewing in five episodes of the final season of Dallas, playing the captivating character LeeAnn de la Vega, reuniting her with Hagman. In her final episode, the character admits that her maiden name was "LeeAnn Nelson", which was a production gag, as "Nelson" was the surname of Hagman's character and Eden's character's married name in I Dream of Jeannie. In 1991, she starred in the stage play Same Time, Next Year with Wayne Rogers, and reprised her role of Jeannie in a television movie of the week. In 1993, she starred in an 11-city national tour of the play Last of the Red Hot Lovers with Don Knotts.

Eden starred in such musical comedies as Nite Club Confidential (playing the role of Kay Goodman, in 1996), The Sound of Music, Annie Get Your Gun, South Pacific with Robert Goulet, The Pajama Game with John Raitt, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes playing Lorelei Lee. She has been a musical guest star in many variety television shows, including 21 Bob Hope specials, The Carol Burnett Show, The Jonathan Winters Show, The Jerry Lewis Show, This Is Tom Jones, Tony Orlando and Dawn, and Donny and Marie. She released an album entitled Miss Barbara Eden in 1967 for the record label Dot Records.

From 2000 to 2004, Eden starred in the national touring production of the play The Odd Couple: The Female Version playing the role of Florence Unger opposite Rita MacKenzie as Olive Madison. In March 2006, Eden reunited with her former co-star Larry Hagman for a publicity tour in New York City to promote the first-season DVD of I Dream of Jeannie. They appeared together on Good Morning America, The View, Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, Martha, and Showbiz Tonight, among other shows. In March 2006, Hagman and Eden again reunited, this time onstage, in New York, for Love Letters at the College of Staten Island, and at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. This was Eden's first return visit to the academy since appearing in the 1956 Ziv Television Programs, The West Point Story

Eden starred in the play Love Letters with Hal Linden in 2006, and a guest-starring role on the Lifetime series Army Wives, written and produced by her niece, Katherine Fugate. In December 2008, she began filming the TV movie Always and Forever for the Hallmark Channel, shown in October 2009.

In May 2013, Eden appeared with former US President Bill Clinton, Elton John, and Fergie at the opening ceremony of the 21st Life Ball in Vienna, where Eden wore her famous Jeannie harem costume.[15] In late 2013, Eden was cast in the movie One Song, which was filmed in Excelsior, Minnesota.[16]

Eden has also done voice work for the animated children's television series Shimmer and Shine, wherein she voices the genie teacher Empress Caliana, who is retired genie mentor of Princess Samira, who mentors the title characters. Caliana aids the main protagonists Leah and her twin genies Shimmer and Shine in rescuing Samira from a crystal cave in "The Crystal Queen". She also voices Caliana in the season-three episode "Samira and Zeta", which reveals that Caliana taught at Genie Hall, a genie school attended by both a young Samira and the series' main antagonist Zeta back when both were genies-in-training.

Personal life: Jeannie Out of the Bottle

Eden wrote her memoir Jeannie Out of the Bottle, which was released on April 5, 2011, by Crown Archetype, a division of Random House.[17] It debuted at number 14 on The New York Times Best Seller List.[18][19]

Jeannie Out of the Bottle chronicles her personal life and Hollywood career of more than 50 years, and includes intimate details about her early childhood, her rise to popularity in her teens and early 20s, her co-stars over the years, and her work leading up to I Dream of Jeannie. It also covers her marriages to Michael Ansara (1958–1974), Charles Fegert (1977–1982), and Jon Eicholtz (1991–present), and her "emotional breakdown" following the death of her son Matthew Ansara (1965–2001).


On November 17, 1988, Eden received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to television.[20] In 1990, the University of West Los Angeles School of Law granted Eden an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.[20]


Feature films

Year Title Role Notes
1956Back from EternityBlonde College Girl
1957Bailout at 43,000Blonde at Nightclub
1957Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?Miss Carstairs
1957The Wayward GirlMolly
1959A Private's AffairSgt. Katey Mulligan
1960Twelve Hours to KillLucy Hall
1960Flaming StarRoslyn Pierce
1960From the TerraceClemmie Shreve
1961Swingin' AlongCarol WalkerAlternative title: Double Trouble
1961All Hands on DeckSally Hobson
1961Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaLt. Cathy Connors
1962The Wonderful World of the Brothers GrimmGreta Heinrich
1962Five Weeks in a BalloonSusan Gale
1963The Yellow CanaryLissa Paxton
19647 Faces of Dr. LaoAngela Benedict
1964Quick, Let's Get MarriedPia PacelliAlternative title: The Confession; filmed in 1964, released in 1971
1964The Brass BottleSylvia Kenton
1964The New InternsLaura Rogers
1964Ride the Wild SurfAugie Poole
1976The Amazing DobermansJustine PirotAlternative title: Lucky
1978Harper Valley PTAStella Johnson
1984Chattanooga Choo ChooMaggie Jones
1985The Fantasy Film Worlds of George PalHerselfDocumentary
1996A Very Brady SequelJeannie (cameo)
2003Loco LoveJackieAlternative title: Mi Casa, Su Casa
2003CarolinaDaphne St. Claire
2019My Adventures with SantaMrs. Claus

Television films

Year Title Role Notes
1971The Feminist and the FuzzDr. Jane Bowers
1971A Howling in the WoodsLiza Crocker
1972The Woman HunterDina Hunter
1973Guess Who's Sleeping in My Bed?Francine Gregory
1974The Stranger WithinAnn Collins
1975Let's Switch!Lacy Colbert
1976How to Break Up a Happy DivorceEllen Dowling
1977Stonestreet: Who Killed the Centerfold Model?Liz StonestreetAlternative title: Stonestreet
1979The Girls in the OfficeLee Rawlins
1980CondominiumBarbara Messenger
1981Return of the RebelsMary Beth AllenAlternative title: The Eagle Rock Rebels Ride Again
1985I Dream of Jeannie... Fifteen Years LaterJeannie / Jeannie II
1987The Stepford ChildrenLaura Harding
1988The Secret Life of Kathy McCormickKathy McCormick
1989Your Mother Wears Combat BootsBrenda Andersen
1989Brand New LifeBarbara McCrayAlternative title: Brand New Life: The Honeymooners
1990Opposites AttractCharlene "Charlie" McKeon
1991Her Wicked WaysTess O'BrienAlternative title: Lethal Charm
1991Hell Hath No FuryTerri Ferguson
1991I Still Dream of JeannieJeannie / Jeannie II
1993Visions of MurderDr. Jesse Newman
1994Eyes of TerrorDr. Jesse NewmanAlternative titles: Visions of Terror, Visions of Murder II
1996Dead Man's IslandHenrietta O'Dwyer Collins (Henrie O)
2009Always and ForeverMary Anderson

Television series

Year Title Role Notes
1956The Johnny Carson ShowHerself (performer)Semi-regular (14 episodes)
1956The West Point StoryToni DeWittEpisode: "A Tough Decision"
1957Highway PatrolKathy O'SheaEpisode: "Hostage Copter"
1957I Love LucyDiana JordanEpisode: "Country Club Dance"
1957The MillionaireBillie WalkerEpisode: "The Ted McAllister Story"
1957CrossroadsPolly GrantEpisode: "A Green Hill Faraway"
1957–59How to Marry a MillionaireLoco JonesMain cast (52 episodes)
1957Perry MasonCarla AdrianEpisode: "The Case of the Angry Mourner"
1957GunsmokeJudy PierceEpisode: "Romeo"
1957Bachelor FatherPatricia "Patty" RobbinsEpisode: "Bentley and the Revolving Housekeepers"
1957December BrideMiss WilsonEpisode: "The Other Woman"
1958Father Knows BestMarge CorbettEpisode: "The Rivals"
1958The LineupEleanorEpisode: "The Samuel Bradford Case"
1961Adventures in ParadiseGinny GrantEpisode: "The Inheritance"
1962The Andy Griffith ShowEllen BrownEpisode: "The Manicurist"
1962Target: The Corruptors!LiliEpisode: "Babes in Wall Street"
1962Cain's HundredTerri EmsonEpisode: "Savage in Darkness"
1962Saints and SinnersNora LoveEpisode: "Daddy's Girl"
1963Dr. KildareNurse Judy GailEpisode: "If You Can't Believe the Truth"
1963–64RawhideCrystal Simpson / Goldie Rogers3 episodes
1963–65Burke's LawVarious Characters4 episodes
1964Route 66Margo Tiffin / Margo StilesEpisodes: "Where There's a Will, There's a Way" (Parts 1 & 2)
1964The VirginianSamantha FryEpisode: "The Brazos Kid"
1965Slattery's PeopleLucrezia KirkEpisode: "Question: When Do We Hang the Good Samaritan?"
1965The RoguesSally CardewEpisode: "Wherefore Art Thou, Harold?"
1965–70I Dream of JeannieJeannie / Jeannie IILead role (139 episodes)
1967Armstrong Circle TheatreLalumeEpisode: "Kismet"
1967Off to See the WizardMelindaEpisode: "Hell Cats"
1973The Barbara Eden ShowBarbara NorrisEpisode: "Pilot"
1974Out to LunchHerselfGuest star (TV special)
1975NBC Special TreatNarrator (voice role)Episode: "Flight from Fuji"
1981–82Harper Valley PTAStella JohnsonLead role (30 episodes)
1989–90Brand New LifeBarbara McCray GibbonsLead role (5 episodes)
1990–91DallasLeeAnn De La VegaGuest star (5 episodes)
2002–03Sabrina the Teenage WitchAunt IrmaRecurring role (3 episodes)
2003Teamo SupremoEvelyn (voice role)Episode: "Brenda's Birthday Bandit"
2007George LopezRuthEpisode: "George is Maid to be Ruth-Less"
2007Army WivesVictoria GraysonEpisode: "Truth and Consequences"
2016Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity EditionHerselfContestant (2 episodes)[21][22]
2016–17Shimmer and ShineEmpress Caliana (voice role)Episodes: "The Crystal Queen", "Samira and Zeta"
2018Long Island MediumHerselfEpisode: "Sitcom Spirits"

Selected stage productions

Year Title Role
1964The Pajama GameBabe Williams
1966Finian's RainbowSharon McLonergan
1970The Sound of MusicMaria von Trapp
1971The Unsinkable Molly BrownMolly Brown
1973Annie Get Your GunAnnie Oakley
1977Blithe SpiritElvira
1982The Best Little Whorehouse in TexasMiss Mona Stangley
1984Woman of the YearTess Harding
1986South PacificNellie Forbush
1991Same Time, Next YearDoris
1993Last of the Red Hot LoversElaine Navazio / Jeanette Fisher
1995Nite Club ConfidentialKay Goodman
1998Gentlemen Prefer BlondesLorelei Lee
2000The Odd Couple: The Female VersionFlorence Unger
2006Love LettersMelissa Gardner
2012Social SecuritySophie



Year Title Label
1967"I Wouldn't Be a Fool / Bend It!"Dot Records
1967"Rebel"Dot Records
1967"Pledge of Love / I'm a Fool to Care"Dot Records
1978"Widow Jones"Plantation Records


Year Title Role Notes
1967Miss Barbara EdenDot Records
1978Harper Valley PTA (soundtrack)Plantation RecordsPerformed 2 songs: "Mr. Harper", "Widow Jones"


  • 2011: Jeannie Out of the Bottle, with Wendy Leigh (read by the author), Random House Audio, ISBN 978-0-3079-1434-7


  1. "Barbara Eden profile". Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  2. "Barbara Eden profile". Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  3. Guttman, Monika (September 19, 1989). "Barbara Eden wouldn't dream of quitting". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington. p. 9, Food.
  4. Derschowitz, Jessica (May 27, 2013). "Barbara Eden, 78, dons "I Dream of Jeannie" costume at charity gala". CBS News. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  5. "Senior Class photos – Spring 1949" (PDF). Abraham Lincoln HS. Retrieved February 4, 2012.
  6. Robert Sokol (July 4, 2011). "Barbara Eden is coming home to San Francisco". The Examiner. Retrieved February 4, 2012.
  7. "Past Titleholders". Archived from the original on February 11, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2012.
  8. Story, David. America on The Rerun 1993, p. 190, Citadel Press; ISBN 0-8065-1410-8
  9. 1955 appearance by Eden on The Johnny Carson Show (online video clip, YouTube, May 17, 2012); accessed July 29, 2016.
  10. "Andy Williams – State Fair – Screen Test with Barbara Eden (RARE)". YouTube. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
  11. Stephen Cox; Howard Frank (March 18, 2000). "Chapter 24. Episode Guide". Dreaming of Jeannie: TV's Prime Time in a Bottle. St. Martin's Press. pp. 209–268. ISBN 0-312-20417-5.
  12. "Jeannie II (Character)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 4, 2012.
  13. "Episode #4.18: Is There a Doctor in the House?". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 4, 2012.
  14. L'eggs at "Retroland"
  15. "Barbara Eden, 78, back into her I Dream of Jeannie crop-top and harem pantaloons". Mail Online. Retrieved August 23, 2015.
  16. "Excelsior Invests, Co-Stars in Independent Movie". Retrieved August 23, 2015.
  17. Archived December 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  18. "Barbara Eden Biography". Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  19. Taylor, Ihsan. "Best Sellers". The New York Times. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  20. Story, David. America on The Rerun (1993), p. 197, Citadel Press; ISBN 0-8065-1410-8.
  21. Meet Worst Cooks Celebrity recruit Barbara Eden
  22. Worst Cooks Celebrity Edition Exit Interview Barbara Eden
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