40 Things You Never Knew About I Dream Of Jeannie

For five years, fans of I Dream Of Jeannie were treated to new tales starring the titular genie and her love interest, astronaut Tony Nelson. Indeed, it’s perhaps hard to believe that it has now been more than 50 years since the cult show first premiered. But what went on behind the scenes was arguably just as interesting as the on-screen antics. With that in mind, here are some facts that even die-hard fans might have never heard before.

40. Sidney Sheldon didn’t want to cast Barbara Eden – because she was blonde

When it came to finding the perfect Jeannie, creator Sidney Sheldon had a vision of who he wanted to cast. And Barbara Eden simply didn’t fit. At the time, I Dream of Jeannie was in stiff competition with Bewitched, because they were both shows about women with magical powers. That show had a blonde lead actor and Sheldon wanted something different. However, he changed his mind after seeing Eden’s audition.

39. It was the final black and white network show

In 1965, there was a major change in the world of television. Indeed, programs began to air in color for the first time. Although I Dream Of Jeannie began that same year, it was in black and white. The show only moved to color after the first season, making it the last black and white network show.

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38. The special effects were easier and cheaper to do in black and white

There was an interesting reason behind the decision to make I Dream Of Jeannie in black and white initially. It wasn’t predicted that the series would be a huge hit, and filming in color didn’t come cheap. What’s more, the special effects were simpler and more affordable to pull off that way. However, once the show began performing well, it made the move to color.

37. The theme song only existed from season two onwards

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One other big difference between the first and second season? Well, fans of the series may remember that the early episodes didn’t have a theme song. But that all changed when season two rolled around, complete with the famously memorable tune and an animated intro to go with it.

36. Eden had experience with lions – and used it during one episode

Eden had, in fact, previously worked with lions during her film roles. In her book, Jeannie Out Of The Bottle, she even described herself as “somewhat of a lion expert.” So when one of the big cats featured on the show, the actress tried to teach her co-star, Larry Hagman, how to connect with the beast. However, as soon as the lion roared, he fled the scene along with other members of the cast and crew.

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35. Eden was pregnant while filming the first ten episodes

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Believe it or not, Eden was pregnant during the filming of the first series. So producers came up with several ways to try and hide her growing stomach for ten episodes. Perhaps the most notable method, though, was the multiple veils that they added to the actress’s usually skimpy costume. In 2009, Eden admitted on the Intimate Portrait documentary that she “looked like a walking tent.”

34. Jeannie and Tony married because bosses didn’t want them living together while single

For years, viewers watched Jeannie and her astronaut love-interest getting to know each other. But executives weren’t happy with the idea that the characters were living together and not married. So how did they decide to combat the issue? By making the controversial decision to have the genie and Tony marry on the show.

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33. Eden hated the wedding and so did viewers

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One person who wasn’t a fan of the big on-screen wedding? Eden herself. “It ruined the show. Because [Jeannie] wasn’t human. She thought she was, and [Tony] knew she wasn’t,” she said on Today in 2015. “I think it broke credibility.” It turned out that audiences didn’t like it either – and the network canceled the series soon after.

32. A studio guard was the one who told Larry Hagman the show had been canceled

Hagman received some major news when he returned to the set of I Dream Of Jeannie following a trip to South America. He wasn’t here to work, though, he was collecting something from the lot. There, a security guard revealed that the show had been canceled. The actor admitted in 2004 that it wasn’t a huge shock. The way he was told, however, made him comment, “Wow, that was real Hollywood.”

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31. Phil Spector appeared on the show

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In one episode during the second season of the show, the genie created a band and wanted some feedback from a producer. So she went to see the real-life Phil Spector, who had worked with artists such as Tina and Ike Turner. Of course, nowadays he is better known for being convicted of the murder of Lana Clarkson in 2003. As such, the disgraced record exec is still serving time for killing her.

30. Bill Daily had dyslexia which made it hard to learn lines

Bill Daily’s witty delivery as astronaut Roger Healey delighted audiences. But it may come as a surprise to learn that he was dyslexic and therefore had trouble memorizing his lines. “The scripts were brilliant, but I couldn’t read,” the actor, who died in September 2018, told the Naples Herald. “I was so grateful that I was working.” Daily’s daughter helped him learn his lines but sometimes he would just improvise – leading to some hilarious scenes.

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29. The Monkees and I Dream Of Jeannie were linked

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I Dream Of Jeannie was connected to The Monkees television show as they shared a music supervisor and network. In fact, they even made references to each other. One of the band’s albums featured in an episode of I Dream Of Jeannie, while an episode of The Monkees had a scene where Davy Jones rubbed a lamp and a genie appeared. He then joked, “Imagine that – wrong show!”

28. After the show ended, the set was burned down

Hollywood in the 1960s wasn’t quite the same place that it is today. While sets and props now feature prominently in studio tours, it used to be costly to store them. So producers often came up with cheap ways to get rid of them. Once I Dream Of Jeannie ended, there was no need to hold onto the home shared by Jeannie and Tony. In order to solve the storage issue, the show-runners burned it down.

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27. Eden kept one of the lamps and eventually gave it to the Smithsonian

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Not everything burned, however. Eden took one of the iconic lamps home with her and kept it in her office. But she eventually chose to donate it to the Smithsonian Institution. The prop was actually created from a whiskey decanter, and another of the bottles sold at auction in 2017 for $41,600.

26. Jeannie’s backstory changed

For all its charm, the show wasn’t always consistent. In fact, viewers may have noticed that one major aspect of Jeannie’s back-story changed over the course of the series. Originally, it was stated that the character was cruelly transformed into a genie by Blue Djinn when she wouldn’t marry him. But later, it was claimed that she came from a family of genies.

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25. Eden’s real-life husband was on the show

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The man that Jeannie didn’t want to exchange vows with was actually someone significant. That’s because Michael Ansara, Eden’s fellow actor and husband in real life, played Blue Djinn. The couple were married from 1958 to 1974 and Ansara went on to appear in two further episodes of the show, as King Kamehameha and Major Biff Jellico.

24. The show wasn’t initially that popular

Nowadays, I Dream Of Jeannie is remembered as a hugely successful series. But that wasn’t actually the case at the time. That’s right, it only reached Nielsen’s list of the Top 30 most-watched shows after it had been on the air for five years. In reality, it became a whole lot more popular following its cancellation.

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23. Eden had to climb an eight-foot ladder to get into her bottle

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Of course, Eden couldn’t really get in and out of her bottle as simply as Jeannie appeared to. So how did the actress do it? Well, the set of the bottle was created at the studio, requiring the actor to climb a ladder that was eight feet tall every time she had to get inside it.

22. Eden’s ponytail wasn’t real, but her look took three hours to complete

Evidently, a lot of work went into making all aspects of I Dream Of Jeannie perfect – including Eden’s look. Before her scenes, the star had to have her hair braided. Then, stylists would clip in a fake ponytail. Which means that most of the hair you see on the show didn’t really belong to the star. But even then it took a whopping three hours to get her ready for filming each day.

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21. The cast once met Buzz Aldrin

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I Dream Of Jeannie featured fictional astronauts such as Hagman’s character, Tony Nelson. But the cast also got to meet a real-life astronaut when they went to Cape Canaveral in Florida. While they were in town, Eden launched a weather rocket and the actors came face-to-face with Buzz Aldrin ahead of Apollo 11’s mission to the moon. He even joined them all for dinner.

20. Eden played two roles

Everyone knows that Eden played the central character on the show. But she also had a second role as Jeannie’s malevolent sister. For that part, she had brown hair and wore a green outfit instead of her usual pink costume. And it seems that the disguise certainly fooled some audience members. The actor has confessed that people even wrote to her to ask who played her on-screen sibling.

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19. Eden and Hagman reunited on Dallas

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Fans loved watching Eden and Hagman together over the years. So it was an exciting moment when the pair reunited two decades later on the latter’s hit drama, Dallas, in which he played the dastardly J.R. Ewing. Eden portrayed one of J.R.’s former lovers who was out for revenge. And her character’s name before marriage had been Nelson, a reference to Hagman’s role on I Dream of Jeannie.

18. Jeannie was supposed to be 2,000 years old

It’s no wonder that Eden was against Jeannie’s romance with Tony when you think about their age difference. Indeed, on the show, the character is meant to be 2,000 years old. In reality, Eden was 34 when the series began and 38 when it ended, while Hagman was less than a month younger than her.

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17. The series was filmed in Los Angeles but set in Florida

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The series was based in Florida, around Cape Kennedy and Cocoa Beach. Today in the area, there is Jeannie-themed artwork centered at the Rocket City Retro store and a yogurt shop inspired by the show called I Dream Of Yogurt. In fact, there’s even a road named I Dream Of Jeannie Lane. However, the series was actually all filmed in Los Angeles – and the scenery sometimes gave this secret away.

16. Eden wore her iconic costume again in 2013

In 2013, it had been 43 years since Eden last wore her iconic Jeannie costume. But she put the harem pants and bolero back on for a good cause at the age of 78. The actor appeared in the ensemble at the Life Ball charity event held in the Austrian capital, Vienna. There, she went on stage and nodded her head to conjure up President Bill Clinton.

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15. Here’s how Jeannie’s signature move came about

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When I Dream Of Jeannie began, the character turned on her magical powers by fluttering her eyelids. Later, director Gene Nelson decided to get her to blink and cross her arms. Eden herself then added a nod of the head. The signature move became a hit and is still associated with Jeannie today.

14. Eden’s favorite episode was the pilot

There were a total of 139 episodes of I Dream Of Jeannie, but for Eden, one stuck out above them all. So what was her favorite episode? The actress has revealed that it’s the pilot, where we meet her beloved character for the very first time. It was titled “The Lady In The Bottle.”

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13. Eden had to have her pantaloons replaced all the time

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As fans know, Jeannie was always very active during her many escapades. And all that movement eventually took its toll on her costumes, and in particular her pantaloons. Eden’s high heels often got caught on the garments, tearing them in the process. All of which meant that she regularly had to have them replaced.

12. Eden only kept one hat when the show ended

As well as ripping those pantaloons, there was another reason that Eden got through so many pairs of them. Partners of cast and crew members, it seems, would borrow them as costumes for Halloween and not give them back. That meant that when the show finished, she only kept a single element of her outfit. The star has revealed that she only took one of Jeannie’s hats home with her after the series ended.

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11. The show was inspired by The Brass Bottle, which Eden featured in

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I Dream Of Jeannie is often compared to Bewitched, because they both feature women with magical powers. But creator Sidney Sheldon has admitted that, in truth, the 1964 movie The Brass Bottle inspired the show. Interestingly, Eden also starred in that film – and while she didn’t play a genie in it, it’s what led to her landing the part she is best-known for.

10. It was freezing during the filming of the pilot

In the very first episode, the characters are shown on a supposedly tropical island in the South Pacific. But those scenes were really shot on Zuma Beach in California. While the actors made it look like they were warm, it was actually a chilly winter’s day in December of 1964.

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9. Eden returned to the role years later

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Eden didn’t say goodbye to Jeannie for good once the show ended. Instead, she returned to the role in 1985 for the TV movie, I Dream Of Jeannie: 15 Years Later. Then a few years after that in 1991, she reprized the character once more for I Still Dream Of Jeannie.

8. The fountain in the Friends opening sequence was from I Dream Of Jeannie

The fountain that features in the opening credits of Friends has become synonymous with the show but it actually cropped up on I Dream Of Jeannie first. And that’s not the only connection the sitocms share. John Bennett Perry, who appeared in the ‘60s series, is the father of Friends star Matthew Perry.

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7. The name of the show came from an 1854 parlor ballad

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As well taking inspiration from The Brass Bottle, I Dream Of Jeannie also owes some credit to music. That’s because the title was based on a parlor ballad by Stephen Foster called “Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair,” published in 1854. The track includes the lyrics, “I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair.”

6. There was only one other central female character

Although some female actors featured in small parts on the show, there was only one other woman, aside from Eden, who appeared regularly. Emmaline Henry starred in 35 episodes as Amanda Bellows, the wife of Dr. Alfred Bellows. However, it’s not clear why there were a good deal more men in the cast than women.

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5. They had to be careful about censorship

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There were some strict rules surrounding what could and couldn’t appear on the show. For censorship reasons, Eden’s navel and legs had to remain covered. Cleavage, however, was entirely acceptable. Producers also had to be careful about how they depicted Jeannie and Tony’s relationship, because they could not be shown going into a bedroom together with the door closing after them.

4. Barton MacLane was written out of the show after he died from pneumonia

The first few seasons of I Dream Of Jeannie featured General Martin Peterson, played by Barton MacLane. However, viewers may have noticed that he disappeared from the show – and that’s because the actor contracted a fatal bout of pneumonia in 1969. In his place, the producers introduced the similar character of General Winfield Schaeffer, portrayed by Vinton Hayworth.

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3. Sammy Davis Jr. clashed with Larry Hagman

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It seems Hagman wasn’t easy to work with during filming, because his personal struggles led him to overindulge in alcohol. “He started every day at the studio drinking vast quantities of champagne. In between scenes, he sequestered himself in his dressing room, smoking pot and downing yet more champagne, all in the interests of maintaining a calm serenity,” Eden explained in her book. And when Sammy Davis Jr. came on the show as a guest star, it got worse. The pair clashed so much, she claimed, that the singer apparently threatened to end Hagman’s life.

2. The director used to play pranks on Eden

Although Hagman’s behavior caused some tensions on the set, the cast and crew also had their funny moments. One day, the director told everyone to go to lunch while they were filming a scene in which Jeannie was stuck inside a perfume bottle. Alone, Eden started shouting and her yells eventually ended up featuring in that episode.

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1. I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched shared a writer

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Aside from having somewhat similar premises and starring blonde actresses, I Dream Of Jeannie and Bewitched had something else in common. Writer James S. Henerson worked on both of the shows – at least for a while. Once he was rumbled by Bewitched bosses, he apparently got fired from the comedy.

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