"I Dream of Jeannie" Star Barbara Eden Is Now 91—And Has No Plans to Retire
"Sometimes one is forced to slow down, but I'll do what I do until I can't."
When Barbara Eden put on her famous genie costume and began granting wishes, she became responsible for one of the most memorable and beloved TV characters of all time. From 1965 to 1970, Eden played Jeannie on I Dream of Jeannie, alongside co-star Larry Hagman, who portrayed her astronaut love interest, Captain Tony Nelson. The iconic character is what Eden is best known for—and she still promotes Jeannie today with plenty of products in her online shop—but it's far from her only role. Her acting career already spans several decades, and at 91 years old, she doesn't have any plans to retire. Read on to learn more about Eden's life today, from the personal to the professional.
RELATED: Jethro Is Now the Last Living Beverly Hillbillies Cast Member at 85.
She's been in show business for almost 70 years.
Prior to I Dream of Jeannie, Eden had already appeared in many TV shows and movies, including another starring role in the series How to Marry a Millionaire. After Jeannie, she did the show Harper Valley P.T.A., appeared in several episode of Dallas and Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, and was in two I Dream of Jeannie movies. She has also starred in several plays and musicals over the years. Her most recent onscreen role was the 2019 movie My Adventures with Santa. In 2021, she told People, "Sometimes one is forced to slow down, but I'll do what I do until I can't."
She's dealt with some tragedy in her life.
Eden has been married three times: to Michael Ansara from 1958 to 1974, to Charles Fegert from 1977 to 1982, and to Jon Eicholtz from 1991 to today. Eden welcomed a son, Matthew, with Ansara, and he tragically died of a heroin overdose in 2001. "I don't think there's anything worse than to lose your child," Eden told People. "As a parent, I had a lot of guilt and anger, and following his death I was always on the edge of tears. Even though he was 35, he was still my baby."
Eden had previously lost her second son when she was eight months pregnant with him. "It was awful. I became numb," she told People. "You just deal with everything every day. I went right back to work and lost a lot of weight. I'd come home and look at my little boy who's adorable and think, 'I'm so lucky. I have this sweet child. I have a husband who loves me. What's wrong with me?' And nobody told me what was wrong with me. At that time going to a psychiatrist, people didn't do it. You just healed yourself."
She wrote two books.
Eden opened up about her life and career in her 2011 memoir, Jeannie Out of the Bottle. She also co-wrote a children's book inspired by I Dream of Jeannie titled Barbara and the Djinn, which was published in 2021 and is about a young girl who finds a genie. "We need more empathy, love and understanding in this world, especially now," Eden said in a press release about the book. "My hope is that this little book can help foster these traits in the children who read it."
For more celebrity news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
She's enjoying life with her third husband.
Eden has been married to Eicholtz, a real estate developer, for over 30 years.
"I'm really lucky," Eden told People of her life today. "I have dear friends. I have a wonderful family, a very supportive husband, a dog who is adorable, but a brat! Yes, I'm very happy. I think life, everything, has to work itself out. There's a reason for most things, and I can't wish for it."
She still a huge I Dream of Jeannie fan.
Eden has an online store in which she sells I Dream of Jeannie products, some of them autographed, including Christmas ornaments, figurines, DVDs, and more.
In a 2015 interview with Studio 10, Eden was asked about the series and her character having such a lasting impact. "I think because it was a happy show," she responded
She then told a story about a fan encounter. "One time I was sitting in the airport in San Francisco and a man came over to me and told me how much he enjoyed the show—this was in the '60s. He said, 'You don't know who I am, but that group of men over there, we're all psychologists and psychiatrists and we're at Stanford University. And we all go home and watch the show, because it balances us out,'" she explained with a laugh.
"I get mail about it from all over the world," the star told The DeSoto Times-Tribune of the classic sitcom in 2022. "I am just so happy that it is still being shown. It makes me feel wonderfully good."