Barbara Eden has been acting for an astonishing seven decades and at 92 years old is showing no signs of slowing down.
Best known for her role in “I Dream of Jeannie” which premiered in 1965, the actress, singer, and producer had been on our screens for 10 years before she landed her most famous role.
Generations of TV viewers have watched I Dream of Jeannie, the classic 1960s sitcom about an astronaut who brings home a 2,000-year-old female genie.
While the premise might sound silly, viewers tuned in and laughed, thanks to the talented and beautiful actress at the center of it all: Barbara Eden, who played Jeannie.
Fans might find it hard to believe, but Barbara is now 92 years old!
And while it’s been a long time since she’s worn her famous harem outfit on TV, she’s still going strong and keeping busy.
But life hasn’t always been easy for Barbara…
Barbara Eden was born in Tucson, Arizona, United States, in 1931. After her parents’ divorce, she moved to San Francisco, and there she began her career studying voice at San Francisco’s Conservatory of Music.
Barbara sang in local bands at local nightclubs in Golden Gate City as a teenager. But after a while, she also decided to study acting.
“My mother said, ‘Barbara, you don’t sound like you mean a word you’re singing. I think you should study acting, too,’” Eden recalled to Closer Weekly.
Acting proved to be a good fit, and soon she moved to LA and began appearing on some of the biggest shows of the ’50s.
She first came to our screens as a semiregular on The Johnny Carson Show in 1955, but it was her role in the famous fantasy sitcom “I Dream of Jeannie” that made her a household name.
The Arizona native played Jeannie, a sultry genie set free from her bottle by astronaut and United States Air Force Captain Anthony “Tony” Nelson, played by Larry Hagman.
“We just … we clicked. We had the same rhythm. We’ve got the same truth out of whatever we were doing,” Eden told Closer Weekly.
“I loved him a lot. Some actors you have to work at really liking them … and you put it in another box in your brain. But with Larry, I never had to do that. He was there constantly.”
She played the role for five years, even playing additional characters in the show as Jeannie’s evil sister and her hapless mother. Another thing that made Jeannie a sensation was Eden’s harem outfit, which was considered a bit scandalous for TV at the time.
“Executives at NBC got very frightened,” she told Today in 2015, near the show’s 50th anniversary. “They became very strict about the navel.”
And Eden said it was actually another much older interview with the Hollywood Reporter that helped spread that legend, after her friend and columnist Mike Connolly kept teasing her about the issue.
“When Mike came in and started teasing me about my belly button, it spread like fire and spread around the world. We had a good time with it and I would tease him back, but I had no idea it would become something.”
The iconic costume also solidified Eden as a TV sex symbol for many people — including high-profile admirers like Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy, who sent her his phone number.
“I binned the piece of paper, but I wish I still had it,” the actress wrote in her 2011 memoir, Jeannie Out of the Bottle.
Eden has appeared in over 50 movies and at 92 years old is still working.
Her last movie was released in 2019 – My Adventures with Santa in which she played Mrs. Claus and in the same year the movie was released she starred in the stage production of “Love Letters” as Melissa Gardner.
“I feel young!” Barbara told Page 6, adding that she considered herself lucky to do the job she chose. “I feel sorry for people like my poor father who had to work every day at something he didn’t like. I enjoy my work. I still work.”
Barbara said she had continued to go to the gym, take spin classes, and lift weights until a few years ago. Now, a trainer comes to her house to help her with resistance training and they walk around.
“I have a lot of friends,” the TV legend said. “I’m pretty active socially.”
She even has an appearance lined up for March 2022.
“If I’m around, I’ll be there, I really like it,” she jokingly said.
As well as acting Barbara also enjoys writing children’s books and co-wrote a book called Barbara and The Djinn about a little girl named Barbara who meets a “charming and wizardly Genie” who takes her on adventures not so far away from her own iconic role.
She hopes that her books can remind children how wonderful reading is because she said, “now all they do is look at telephones!”
'I Dream of Jeannie' Actress Barbara Eden, 91, Seems to Be Aging Backwards in Stunning Red Carpet Shots https://t.co/zuuAyPeXja— SueGibbs (@SueGibb80340378) March 11, 2023
Barbara dismisses the idea that “I Dream of Jeannie” might come across as a bit dated for today’s viewers.
“Come now, this is a classic theme,” she said. “One Thousand and One Nights’? This is a lovely wonderful fantasy.”
“And let’s be honest here, she was in the driver’s seat you know. She wasn’t subservient at all.”
What an amazing life Barbara Eden has had, made possible by her inspirational attitude and energy. She really does prove that age is just a number.
Please share if you too love this legendary actress.