Fun Facts You May Not Know About I Dream Of Jeannie
I Dream of Jeannie was conjured up by NBC network chiefs after they witnessed Bewitched’s meteoric rise. The series ran from 1965 to 1970 with rave reviews and a devoted following. It focused on NASA Astronaut Tony Nelson and his Jeannie in a bottle. Keep reading to learn some fascinating facts about the beloved series and its cast.
Barbara Eden did a great job as the genie, but her hair color nearly cost her the job. The show’s producers wanted to distance the series from “Bewitched” and were looking for a non-blonde actress to take the role. They eventually decided to cast her anyway.
It worked out, and the show ran for five seasons before it was canceled. Producers ultimately said Eden’s beauty, humor, and warmth, helped her land the role.
Jeannie’s Bottle Changed Color
Jeannie’s bottle was changed to a different hue when the show made the move from black-and-white to color. The bottle was originally a smoke-green color with a painted gold-leaf pattern for an antique look. It was even described as a “green bottle” in the first season.
The bottle later changed to purple, but it was a change most viewers didn’t recognize because of the transition from black and white.
Barbara Eden’s Real-Life Husband
The Blue Djinn was played by Barbara’s real-life husband, Michael Ansara. Playing the bad guy to his wife’s genie must have made for some awkward moments.
If you give the show another watch, you’ll see the interactions between Jeannie and the Blue Djinn in a whole new light!
Tony Nelson’s Character Development
On the show, Hagman played United States Air Force Captain Tony Nelson, who is a NASA astronaut. He spent his days working for the U.S. government and his nights with Jeannie.
His character started as a more uptight type of guy focused on his job, but he eventually warmed up to Jeannie and they even got married.
‘The Mad Monk Of Malibu’
Larry Hagman was given the nickname “The Mad Monk of Malibu” for his eccentric behavior. He once drove his Harley-Davidson to shop for groceries while wearing a chicken suit.
Hagman disappeared from the spotlight for a while but returned in 1978 with Dallas.
Larry Hagman In Later Years
Following I Dream of Jeannie, Hagman would go on to appear in various TV and film products throughout the 1970s. He is perhaps best known for his role as J.R. Ewing in Dallas.
He also made appearances in both Nip/Tuck and The Simpsons. Sadly, Hagman passed away in 2012.
No Theme Song?
When the second season of the show debuted, it was also the first time for the audience to hear the show’s (now) iconic theme song.
That wasn’t the only change: the new season was the first one shot in color. It was filmed in black and white, and the show’s producers played around with a few various options for a song but could never decide on one until the following season.
Awkward Cancellation News
Apparently, when the show was canceled, Larry Hagman wasn’t notified, until a guard working outside the studio let him know. Yikes!
Hagman had previously been on vacation in South America following the filming of the series’ fifth season and only found out the news after returning from his trip.
Bill Daily Then
Bill Daily was best known for his role as Roger Healey on I Dream of Jeannie. The character was a fellow astronaut and friend of Tony Nelson’s.
His storylines on the show often focused on Nelson’s attempts to keep Healey from finding out about Jeannie’s true nature and abilities. This, of course, made for some hilarious moments.
Bill Daily In Later Years
Bill Daily would later go on to work on The Bob Newhart Show. He also played Larry, the psychiatrist on the oddball sitcom Alf.
He returned to his role as Roger Healey in both of the I Dream of Jeannie television movies. Unfortunately, Daily passed away in 2018.
William (Hayden) Rorke Then
I Dream of Jeannie didn’t have a large cast. One of the few semi-regular characters was the NASA psychiatrist Dr. Bellows, who William Rorke brilliantly played.
William Rorke actually went by the stage name Hayden Rourke. Before his time on I Dream of Jeannie, he made his (uncredited) film debut in the This Is the Army, starring future president Ronald Reagan.
Hayden Rorke In Later Years
His final role was as Dr. Bellows in the TV series’ 1985 reunion movie. He also had various bit roles in dozens of other films throughout the years.
William Rorke passed away in 1987. Barbara Eden called him a “prince” in her autobiography.
Barbara Eden Then
Barbara Eden was amazing as Jeannie, and she was loved by fans and critics alike. Before she married Major Nelson in the final season, the romantic tension between the pair propelled this show forward.
To this day, there are websites dedicated to the show where fans talk about how many of them had crushes on Jeannie!
Barbara Eden, After The Show
The end of this amazing show didn’t mark the end of Eden’s time playing Jeannie. She would return for two TV movies: I Dream of Jeannie: 15 Years Later which aired in 1985, and I Still Dream of Jeannie, which appeared in 1991.
In 2006, she and Larry Hagman went on tour for the DVD release of the first season of I Dream of Jeannie.
Hagman’s Real Life Military Service
In real life, actor Larry Hagman served in the United States Air Force, much like his character.
Co-star Bill Daily also served in the U.S. Army where he was an artilleryman in the Korean War. Hagman and Daily definitely had the experience needed to play their characters.
One Bewitched Writer Was Fired
Jeannie’s evil look-alike sister ‘Jeannie II’ was created by former Bewitched writer James S. Henerson. He was removed from the Bewitched writing team after another staffer found out that he was writing for then two shows at the same time.
Henerson’s career must not have been hurt too badly, as he went on to write for many more TV shows.
Barbara Eden’s Secret
Jeannie was known for her revealing harem costumes, but aside from the 1965 pilot, Eden was covered up for the first ten episodes of the TV series.
During those first ten episodes, Barbara Eden was actually pregnant, so producers agreed to hide her pregnant stomach.
Trouble In Nelson Paradise
A follow-up film, I Dream of Jeannie … Fifteen Years Later, was released on DVD in 2013. The plot focuses on Major Nelson’s promotion, which causes a rift between him and Jeannie, just as evil Jeannie hatches a diabolical plan to destroy the pair’s marriage.
As Tony becomes fatally endangered in space, Jeannie is trapped in her bottle until their son, T.J., magically releases her, and the two make a deal for Tony’s life.
Barbara Eden, The Lion Whisperer
The show had a real-life lion on set, and Barbara was apparently extremely good with the massive animal. She reportedly gave Hagman advice on how to carefully interact with the lion.
The lion got along great with Eden but apparently the same could not be said for Hagman, as the lion roared at him as soon as he stepped on the set.
No Fear Of Lions
Apparently, the lion let out a huge roar at one point, and all of the guys on the set fled the scene.
But Barbara Eden didn’t flinch and instead calmly walked up to the lion and started to pet him. The lion soon regained its composure, and filming resumed.
Larry Hagman’s Stage Success
Many fans of Larry Hagman might not realize that he was originally successful on the New York stage. His mother was a Broadway actress, and his dad was a lawyer.
Hagman’s classical theater training definitely paid off during his time on the show and eventually on the hit series Dallas.
The Episode That Led To The Show’s Cancellation
NBC’s publicity department staged a fake wedding for Eden and Hagman exactly one week before the wedding episode was set to air, and they invited TV writers from around the country to attend.
The wedding episode was hated by both the actors and their fans, as nobody felt the nuptials were sincere or practical. Many turned away from the show as a result, and it was canceled shortly after the wedding episode aired.
The Marriage Mistake
Barbara Eden was dead set against the wedding between Jeannie and Tony. She pointed out that Jeannie was first and foremost not a human. She also felt that it would break the characters’ tension and destroy the show’s credibility.
Of course, Jeannie’s “genie” nature was addressed in the show and was a major conundrum of the episode because genies cannot be photographed.
Jeannie And Tony Reunited
In 1990, the stars of I Dream of Jeannie reunited on the set of Dallas, which starred Larry Hagman. Barbara Eden appeared as the character Lee Ann De La Vega in a five-episode arc.
In her final episode, the character admits that her maiden name was “Lee Ann Nelson,” which was a clever not to their much-hated marriage on I Dream Of Jeannie.
Actors’ Opinions On Characters
Barbara Eden always viewed Jeannie as “a tomboy” although her fans seemed to think otherwise. During an interview, Larry Hagman spoke about his character Tony saying that although Jeannie was beautiful, Tony was a career man who refused to pay her any attention.
This outlook would certainly explain why it took so long for the two characters to tie the knot. In real life, the actors thought the characters’ marriage shouldn’t have happened.
Last Network Show In Black And White
After the first season aired, all the other TV networks transitioned into the new era of color television. It was the selection of the show’s theme song that finally ushered in color TV.
The intro also consisted of a now-iconic animation sequence that was created by Friz Freleng.
Barbara’s Jeannie Pride
Some stars don’t like being recognized for one particular character, yet Barbara felt differently about Jeannie. “She’s not human; this is a fantasy,” she told The Chicago Tribune.
“She was a genie: It was her job, and she loved her job. The word ‘master’ — note the semantics — it may mean one thing to humans. But to a genie, that’s what (Maj. Nelson) was. And that’s all. He was the first to take the cap off the bottle. You can’t compare a career girl with a genie.”
Jeannie’s Evil Twin
Oddly enough, many fans of the show didn’t realize Barbara Eden was also playing Jeannie’s evil sister, whose name was also Jeannie. How confusing must that have been at the genies’ family reunions!
Perhaps this was just a sign of the innocence of the era, as now it is quite common for an actor to play multiple roles.
The very first episode of “I Dream Of Jeannie” was filmed on Zuma Beach in Malibu. Although you wouldn’t know it, those scenes were filmed in the middle of the winter, and it was freezing on set.
Eden said it was her favorite episode despite freezing while filming during the cold weather.
Jeannie’s Destroyed Costumes
Barbara Eden was so physical in her costumes that she was constantly catching them on her heels. Whenever her costumes were ripped they would have to be replaced, which led to a lot of work for the show’s costume designers.
Very few of the outfits remained after the show concluded, but Eden wore one of them to a charity gala in 2013.
The Very Protected Original Jeannie Bottle
After the show ended, Barbara Eden held onto the original bottle for a long time. Years late, she donated it to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., where it is still one of the most popular TV props of all time.
Before donating it, she discussed the bottle in a 2011 interview. “I have the original bottle. It was in the office for a long time and then people said you know, ‘That shouldn’t be around, there’s only one,’” Eden said. “So I put it in the bank (in a vault) but it’s on its way to the Smithsonian.”
Jeannie’s Bottle Wasn’t Exactly A High-Tech Prop
Jeannie’s famous bottle was made out of an old Jim Beam decanter from 1964. It was a simple solution, but the proper department still spent several hundred dollars to have it hand-painted and decorated. Because of the cost, everyone had to be extra careful with it.
Supposedly, Jim Beam stopped making that style of bottle in the late 1990s.
The Entire Set Was Destroyed In A Fire
After I Dream Of Jeannie was canceled, the entire set was burned to the ground. The show’s producers realized that it was going to be very expensive to store the set’s props so they just destroyed whatever wasn’t taken from the set, which was a common practice in Hollywood studios at the time.
Not all the props were destroyed in the fire, of course, since Barbara Eden held onto her genie lamp for years after the show ended.
Jeannie Was On The Brady Bunch
If you watched the TV movie special A Very Brady Sequel you probably noticed that Barbara Eden revived her role as Jeannie for it. She showed up at Mike and Carol Brady’s second wedding and introduced herself as Mike Brady’s wife.
Maureen McCormick (who played Marcia on The Brady Bunch) also appeared in an early episode of I Dream of Jeannie. She played a young patient in a Season 1 episode called “My Master, the Doctor.”
The Show Was Inspired By A Movie
I Dream of Jeannie producer Sidney Sheldon loved the movie The Brass Bottle and decided to base the TV show on that movie.
He liked the idea of a beautiful female genie and started to create his show around that premise. So, despite some people’s claims, the show was not a rip-off of Bewitched.
The Monkees Made An Appearance
The Monkees happened to air on the same network as I Dream of Jeannie and the writers used that opportunity to make references to it.
In one episode of The Monkees, the bandmates discover a genie lamp, and when Davy Jones sees it, he responds: “Imagine that — wrong show.”
An 1854 Parlor Ballad
“I Dream of Jeannie” isn’t just a clever play on words for “genie,” it is also the name of an 1854 parlor ballad.
The original song is called, “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair,” by singer Stephen Foster.
Black And White Magic
I Dream Of Jeannie was kept in black and white for its first season because the “magic” used to create smoke was hard to pull off in color. The special photographic effects were eventually tweaked, and the show moved to color in 1966.
It was the last TV show to broadcast a black-and-white episode.
The City Of Cocoa Beach Created A Day In Eden’s Honor
Twenty- seven years after the last episode ended, the show’s biggest star returned to speak at the Kennedy Space Center.
During the 1996 event, which was called “Jeannie Day,” Cocoa Beach Mayor Joe Morgan gave Barbara an “I Dream of Jeannie Lane” street sign.
Stretching The Truth About NASA Astronauts
While the show centered in Florida, which was allegedly where the astronauts went to work at the time, the claim was pure movie magic.
In reality, NASA’s astronauts had moved on from Florida and were training at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas.
The TV series was supposed to take place in and around the Cape Kennedy, Florida, area. However, the exterior of the building where Roger Healey’s office was located was actually the main building at the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, north of Los Angeles.
Early Cocoa Beach episodes were shot with the Hollywood Hills in the background.
It Was Only A Top 30 Show On Two Occasions
Despite a great run in syndication, the show only managed to crack the top 30 TV shows on two occasions during its first runs. The highest rating for the series was No. 26.
Even so, it has remained a popular series in syndication.
The Show Was Most Popular In Re-Runs
I Dream Of Jeannie wasn’t the top-rated show on TV when it debuted, the TV series eventually won its time period with a 13 rating and a 23 share of the audience after airing on New York’s WPIX.
It also became the first off-network series to best network competition in the ratings. It remained popular in re-runs for many years.
Jeannie’s Origin Story Is A Muddled Mess
Jeannie wasn’t always a genie. Originally, the story was told that she was a young mortal woman who refused to marry the powerful Blue Djinn, who in turn transformed her into a genie.
Later, producers altered the story, claiming that Jeannie and her family were always genies, but her rejection of the Blue Djinn led to her banishment into her bottle.
Fact Checking Wasn’t A Priority
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, continuity errors weren’t as big of a deal as they are now.
For instance, in one episode of I Dream of Jeannie, Tony goes to Rome, Italy, and tells Jeannie that she probably knew it as “Gaul.” There’s only one problem — Gaul was the name Romans used for the area that’s now France, and not Italy as he claimed.
A Loosely-Based Cartoon
A Hanna-Barbera cartoon airing under the name Jeannie would eventually replace the show. The animated show was loosely based on the original I Dream of Jeannie series, and aired from 1973 to 1975.
In the cartoon, a teenage surfer found Jeannie’s bottle. Mark Hamill, Joe Besser, Julie McWhirter, and Bob Hastings all did voice work for the show, among many others.
No Female Competition
Barbara Eden didn’t have much female competition on the show. Emmaline Henry appeared in a recurring role as Amanda Bellows, but otherwise, there were few recurring female characters.
The show was dedicated to keeping the focus on the beloved Barbara Eden and her character Jeannie.
I Dream Of Jeannie And Bewitched Connection
Comedic actor Paul Lynde appeared as the practical joking Uncle Arthur on the hit series Bewitched, and he would also later make three appearances on I Dream of Jeannie.
Sadly, Paul Lynde passed away in 1982. He is still beloved among fans today.
The Show’s Creator Had An Amazing Track Record
Sidney Sheldon knew what it took to create hit shows in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. He created The Patty Duke Show and Hart to Hart.
Additionally, he authored some best-selling novels including The Other Side of Midnight (1973) and Rage of Angels (1980) and is now considered one of the top ten best-selling fiction writers of all time.
One of the most iconic gestures in TV history is how Jeannie summoned her magical powers. We all know that she would nod her head and blink once. However, originally, she would fold her arms and make a series of eye flutters instead.
This was another reason the show was compared to Bewitched, in which Samantha would wriggle her nose to make magic happen.
The Nelson Home
While it is no longer used for filming, the original Nelson home is still standing and in use on the Warner Brothers Ranch in Burbank, California.
There have been some minor cosmetic changes to the home, but for the most part, it remains largely unchanged after 50 years.
A Messed Up Ranking
In the episode where Tony is promoted from Captain to Major, he can be seen wearing the wrong rank. His uniform showcases silver clusters which are for a Lieutenant Colonel.
During season 2, his rank clusters changed color to reflect the rank of Major.
Two Reunion Movies Were Filmed
Fifteen years after the beloved sitcom had ended, NBC premiered I Dream Of Jeannie… Fifteen Years Later. Six years later in 1991, I Still Dream Of Jeannie was released as well.
The made-for-TV movies chronicled the life of the happy, magical housewife and both her marriage to Tony Nelson, as well as their teenage son.
“I Dream Of Jeannie… Fifteen Years Later”
In 1985, the comedy, made-for-TV film, I Dream Of Jeannie… Fifteen Years Later, premiered on National Television. Much of the main cast returned alongside Barbara Eden.
Wayne Rogers had stepped in to play the role of Tony Nelson, due to scheduling conflicts with Larry Hagman’s series Dallas.
In the rest of the film I Dream of Jeannie… Fifteen Years Later, the characters work to stop an incoming meteoroid. Jeannie must leave Tony, and it’ll be as if she never existed. However, she finds a loophole and enchants a “new beginning” with her once-husband.
She turns to the camera and says, “Haji made me agree to an ending. He never said there couldn’t be a new beginning.”
Taking A Stroll Down Memory Lane
There was a small piece of nostalgia resurrected during the production for I Dream Of Jeannie… Fifteen Years Later. The film’s beach scene was shot at the same location where the pilot episode was first shot in 1964.
Fifteen years later, Tony Nelson and Jeannie were reunited at the same place where their story originally began… even if it was with a different actor.
“I Still Dream Of Jeannie”
For the second reunion film, I Still Dream Of Jeannie, only two cast members reprised their roles; Barbara Eden and Bill Daily.
Sony chose to not move forward with a DVD release and it remained strictly for television audiences until 2013.
If Jeannie Was A Single Lady
Due to Larry Hagman’s absence, in the follow-up reunion special, Jeannie’s husband was on a NASA space mission indefinitely. One of the only few times Tony Nelson is acknowledged is in the opening sequence.
Without a master, Jeannie must find a new one in the plane of reality to stay, and she ventures out to singles bars to find her next adventure. Whether that adventure is temporary or permanent, she doesn’t know.
I Dream Of Jeannie And Friends Connection
John Bennett Perry was the actor who played the owner of the sporting goods store in the I Dream of Jeannie: 15 Years Later movie. His son is none other than Friends actor Matthew Perry!
The fountain featured in the opening sequence of Friends was also seen in various episodes of I Dream of Jeannie. That fountain is actually located just across the street from the original Nelson house.
Celebrating The 50th Anniversary
On September 18th, 2015, Barbara Eden joined NBC to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of I Dream Of Jeannie. She reminisced about the show’s time on the air and what it was like to portray such an iconic character.
Fans couldn’t help but remark on how gorgeous Eden still looked so many years later.