Step aside, Aladdin, for it’s time to celebrate Barbara Eden’s 92nd birthday on August 23! She’s the woman who captured the world’s imagination with dreams of genies and still looks stunning in her nonagenarian years.
Barbara Eden, the enchanting actress who once turned us into shameless bottle-rubbers wishing for our own magical blond genie, continues to be adored even six decades after her initial appearance on the iconic show “I Dream of Jeannie.”
Although she effortlessly posed and conjured magic on screen, her real-life story had its share of sorrows too. Tragedy struck when she lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2001.
Born during the era of the Great Depression, Barbara Eden, who turned 92 on August 23, 2023, transformed her life from poverty to opulence when she began gracing the big screen in films like “A Private’s Affair” and “Twelve Hours to Kill,” as well as TV shows like “The Johnny Carson Show” and “I Love Lucy,” all starting in 1956.
Her fame transcended borders in 1960 when she starred alongside the legendary Elvis Presley in the western film “Flaming Star.” Then, in 1965, she embodied the role of Jeannie, the beautiful genie who found freedom through an astronaut and US Air Force Captain named Tony Nelson.
Barbara Eden’s portrayal of the enchanting creature captured the hearts of fans throughout the five-season run of the fantasy sitcom “I Dream of Jeannie,” where Larry Hagman played her love interest, Nelson.
During the same period when her stardom was soaring as Jeannie, Barbara Eden and her husband, actor Michael Ansara, who was known for his role in the 1960s series “Broken Arrow,” welcomed their son, Matthew Ansara, on August 29, 1965. Unfortunately, their marriage ended when Matthew was just nine years old, which Eden believes had a detrimental impact on her son, leading him down a troubled path of addiction.
In 1984, at the age of 19, Matthew’s struggles with drugs became evident when he moved in with his father after Barbara’s second marriage ended. Despite the challenges, she supported him through multiple rehab attempts, showing unwavering love and concern as a mother.
Barbara Eden’s sorrowful journey continued as she witnessed her son’s battle with addiction, marked by periods of remission and relapse. Despite her efforts, Matthew’s life ended tragically due to an accidental drug overdose at the age of 35.
Through the pain of losing her only child, Barbara Eden, who had married Jon Eicholtz in 1991, continues to search for understanding and healing. Her former husband, Michael Ansara, passed away in 2013 due to complications related to Alzheimer’s disease and was laid to rest next to their son at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.
In her retirement from the iconic harem suit of Jeannie, Barbara Eden still graces screens in shows like “Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition” and the 2019 film “My Adventures with Santa,” where she portrays Mrs. Claus. Her most recent stage performance was in 2019’s “Love Letters.”
As we wish the remarkable Barbara Eden a joyful birthday, let us also extend our heartfelt condolences for the loss of her beloved son. If anyone you know is grappling with addiction, please reach out to your local alcohol or drug abuse hotline – a simple step that could potentially save a life.
Let’s come together to share this story, offering warm wishes and the love that Barbara Eden so rightfully deserves.