|Big discounts on
stuff you want!
is hands down the best site on the Web for classic TV.'
I suppose at one time or another we’ve all fantasized about winning the lottery or finding a magical genie in a bottle. I’ve never won the lottery, but last week I definitely met a magical “Jeannie”. Over the years Barbara Eden has materialized in a number of venues: in film, on stage, at USO shows, and in Vegas, but she is best known for playing the title character in NBC’s “I Dream of Jeannie”. On March 7, she will pop into town and team with another TV icon, Hal Linden, in a production of A.R. Gurney’s “Love Letters” at the High Point Theatre.
I spoke with Barbara last week and was struck by her youthful enthusiasm, her grand sense of humor, and her total lack of ego. The fact is, the lady just doesn’t realize how beloved she really is. During our time together we talked about her first acting job (she played a princess in a grammar school radio show), her encounter with a creepy studio executive, her relation to one of our Founding Fathers, and of course, her thoughts on the continuing world wide popularity of “I Dream of Jeannie”. But we began our conversation with her take on “Love Letters”, a play that features two aging characters who have had a thing for each other since childhood. Over time, the pair wrote letters to each other, and now they are reading those missives aloud.
JL: This isn’t your first time around performing “Love Letters”. What makes it such an attractive play to you as an actor?
Eden: First of all it’s a wonderful arc for an actor, and it’s beautifully written.
JL: And there’s no song and dance number, no special effects.
Eden: No, you don’t have any help (laughs) Just the lights.
JL: What does Hal bring to the play?
Eden: Well, he’s wonderfully talented. And he understands the role he’s playing. He understands the character, from boy to young man, to older man, and he makes it quite clear in his acting how these two people are attracted to each other, and yet are so different.
JL: Do you write a lot of letters?
Eden: No (laughs). Although I was forced to when I was younger. My Mom would always make me write thank you notes.
JL: I understand that you are a descendant of another letter writer, the great Benjamin Franklin.
Eden: Well that’s what my grandfather always said. Grandpa was born around Philadelphia and his name was Charles Benjamin Franklin. He told me that his Aunt and Uncle had real memorabilia from Benjamin Franklin. I would love to have proof of that.
JL: It’s no surprise to any of your male fans that you once won a beauty contest, but when you were first starting out in show business, I heard that some idiot studio executive at Warner Brothers told you that you were not “Hollywood pretty.” How did that make you feel?
Eden: I was crushed (laughs). I was just crushed. My uncle had driven me there because I didn’t know how to drive, and he was furious. He was going to go right back in and give the man what for (laughs). The executive showed me a picture of his daughter and said, “Here’s what we want, big tits.” And I had never heard that word used.
JL: Who was this guy, the original Harvey Weinstein?
Eden: Just about. I was appalled at the whole thing as I stood there holding my white gloves (laughs). Anyway I went home, cried a lot, then I realized, I thought, ”My goodness, they can’t just have all pretty people on screen. They have to have human beings, and I can be a character actor, nothing wrong with that. So I didn’t quit.
JL: We’re all glad you didn’t.
Eden: But the coup de gras came a year later. I was at Warner Brothers to work with an acting coach named Cutler. I was not under contract, but he was coaching me for free. I was walking to his class one day, and I heard someone shout, “Hey you!”. I ignored it. Then he shouted, “Hey you in the yellow pants.” I turned around and it was the same man I had met with before, and my heart went down to my toes. He said, “We’re going to test you.” Can you imagine? The same man. So that really validated me (laughs).
JL: My editor will kill me if I don’t ask you at least one question about “Jeannie”. What has made that show remain so popular for so long?
Eden: I think our group of actors were wonderful and we all worked together so well, but the basic story is so classic. It’s timeless, and strangely enough you can relate to it because she’s a fish out of water. Also it was funny. It was like giving the audience a little respite from all the worries they have. I also find it interesting that I still get mail from France, Italy, and from Russia and China, which is shocking to me.
JL: Maybe we should make you a diplomat.
JL: In your autobiography, “Jeannie Out of the Bottle”, you wrote that you are not a star, you’re an actress. You can’t possibly think that you’re not a star?
Eden: Stars are people who win Oscars, you know (laughs). They’re stars, I’m not.
If you’d like to see Barbara do her job in person, you can purchase tickets to “Love Letters” by calling the High Point Theatre box office at 336 887-3001, or visit www.highpointtheatre.com .
Hit Shows of the Seventies: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy / Gene Roddenberry in the 1970s / 1977-1978 Superhero & Science Fiction TV Shows / Funniest SNL Skit Ever! / Prisoner: Cell Block H / Why John Amos Left Good Times / Reviving Match Game / How Betty White's 'Happy Hommaker' Came About / TV Dads Talk Sex & Fatherhood / Angie Dickinson Blows Off This Is Your Life / Rare Audio of Bette Davis' Broadway Bound Flop 'Miss Moffat' / Orson Welles' Last Interview / Remembering Ed Asner / Bruce Vilanch on Writing for Donny & Marie / Writing For Fernwood 2 Night / Kris Kristofferson vs Barbra Streisand on A Star Is Born? Kinda... / Remembering Gavin MacLeod / Cher Reviews Her Iconic Outfits Since 1965 / Best Columbo Episodes / Star Maidens Sci-Fi Series / One of the Most Controversial Episodes of All In The Family / Outside Chance / Norman Mailer & Muhammad Ali / Charles Nelson Reilly Flops on Broadway / Chuck Norris vs Eva Gabor / Dirty Sally / The Protectors / Chevy Chase Talks Hollywood Cocaine Parties / 1977 Season Show Openings / Love Boat's Oscar Winning Guest Stars / Henry Fonda's 4 Favorite Films / Tom Snyder Interviews Star Trek Cast & Harlan Ellison / Tim Conway's 'The Dentist' Sketch / Henry Winkler on His Happy Days Audition / Patrick Duffy of Dallas Interview / Time Express / Wonder Woman Leaves Paradise Island / 1972-73 TV Season / George Burns on the Carson Tonight Show in 1989 / Best Season of Dallas Ever? / Cloris Leachman Remembered / Ken Berry Interview / Why Barney Miller Ended / Vivian Vance Almost Joined the Cast of Rhoda / Marilu Henner Talks About Andy Kaufman / Cher on Mike Douglas 1979 / TV Show Book Tie-Ins / 1972 Jackie Robinson Interview / Dr. Strange 1978 TV Movie / Kathy Garver Interview / Space: 1999 / Paint Along with Nancy Kominsky / Mary Kay Place Albums of the 1970s / The Supremes - Mary Wilson vs Diana Ross / When Bruce Dern Killed John Wayne / 1974 Tom Snyder Our Gang Special / Remembering Ken Berry / Bruce / Caitllyn Jenner? / Billy Crash Craddock Interview / Melissa McCarthy Almost Quit Acting Days Before Landing Gilmore Girls / Bar Rescue's Wildest Customers! / How The Golden Girls and Elvis Got Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs Made / TV HITS - By the Numbers / Alex Baldwin On His TV and Film Roles / Ray Charles' BIG Problem With TV / Top Ten Sitcoms of the 1970s / Fashion on TV / James Cameron Made No Money for Titanic / John Goodman Breaks Down His Iconic Roles / Growing Up In The Playboy Mansion / Ed McMahon Drunk on the Air! / Lucy Interviewed by Barbara Walters / Valerie Harper Cancer / Jeff Bridges Breaks Down His Iconic Roles / Dallas vs Eight is Enough / 1974 MAD Magazine TV Special - Never Aired! / Iconic M*A*S*H Restaurant Coming To Kroger? / When Lucy Got Fired / Partridge Family and Brady Bunch at Kings Island theme park 1972-73 / Awkward Talk Show Moments / Allan Blye Interview / Jack Benny's Last Tonight Show 1974 / Patricia Heaton's Audition for Everybody Loves Raymond / Luke Perry's Last Role / Johnny Cash's Last Interview / Judy Garland's Last Film / Who Was Bob Gordon? / Richard Dreyfuss vs Bill Murray / Jeff Ross vs Everybody / Tennessee Williams 1972 Interview / Ed Asner Interview / Norm Macdonald vs OJ Simpson / Tony Kornheiser Interview / Freddy's Nightmares TV Series / Emmy Award Multiple Winners / Nathaniel Taylor aka Rollo Lawson / Mary Kay Place Albums of the 1970s / That Girl & TV's Single Working Women / Can You Identify These Stars? / Betty White vs Joan Rivers / Paul Lynde's Greatest Hollywood Squares Zingers / Sonny Comedy Revue / Star Trek Animated / Dark Shadows / Hal Linden Interview / Dark Shadows Movies / Dark Shadows Novels / The Night Stalker / One of the Funniest Carol Burnett Show Skits Ever / Fred 'The Hammer' Williamson / Johnny Carson interviews Lucille Ball / Dawn Wells / Betty White : An Appreciation / Bette Davis' 2 Best Interviews 1971 / Barbara Eden Interview / Gavin McLeod / Spider-Man 77 / The Next Step Beyond / The Music Dark Shadows / 1970 TV Shows / Mike Connors Remembered / Mike Wallace, Virginia Graham & Jim Longworth / Dick Clark / Woody Allen Hosts Tonight Show 1971 / Carson Tonight Show / Alan Alda Interview / Jackie Gleason Show / 1973 TV Shows / Thriller / Post Modern Sitcoms / Elvis in Greensboro / Remembering Dick Van Patten / TV Dating Shows / The Jacksons TV Show / Fall Previews of the 70s / Lance Link, Secret Chimp / Star Wars Holiday Special / Alias Smith and Jones / 1977 Year in Review / Top Ten 1970-76 / The Rockford Files / All in the Family / Sam Hall (Dark Shadows) Interview / Actor Ed Nelson / Death of Archie / Battlestar Galactica / Wonder Woman / Network Jingles / Class of '74 / Happy Days / Good Times / Mr. Bill / Dinah! / Maude / Doris Day Show / Pamelyn Ferdin Interview / The Bicentennial Minute / Jingles & Catch Phrases of the 1970s / Early Cable TV 1970s / TV commercials for Women / TV Moms / Red Skelton / George Lindsay / Country Music TV Shows of the 1960s & 1970s / Betty White Show / Shirley Jones Interview / Tom Bosley / Rodney Dangerfield / How Sanford & Son Ended / Sanford & Son Spin-Off Grady / Great Memoirs / Virginia Graham Show / The "N" Word on TV / 10 Classic Comedy Routines You Have To Laugh At Before You Die / Hollywood Squares / 1970's Teen Idols & The Hudson Brothers / TV Stars with 3 Hit Shows / The Rookies / Unsold Pilots / Jackie Cooper / The Good Guys / Match Game / Make Room For Granddaddy / Mannix & Gail Fisher / Bette Midler in the 1970s / Bonus 1970's Stuff: Silent Star Marion Mack / Biff Burger / 1970s Fast Food Chains / Latin Casino / Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire / 1970's Daytime Talk Shows / The Fess Parker Show / Brady Bunch Sex Dungeon? / Love, Loss & What I Watched
Lost Kid Shows / Movie Stars on TV / Saturday Morning Shows / Video Vault / TV Goodbyes / Fabulous Fifties / Unseen Scenes / Game Shows / Requested Forgotten TV Shows / The Super Sixties / More Modern TV Shows / The New * * Shows / 1980's Wrestling / TV Blog
|TV's Embarrassing Moments / Action Shows of the Sixties / TVparty Mysteries and Scandals / Variety Shows of the 1970s / The Eighties / The Laugh Track / 1970's Hit Shows / Response to TVparty / Search the Site / Add Your Comments|