Intimate Portrait

Season 8 Episode 19

Barbara Eden

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Aired Monday 7:00 PM Jan 07, 2002 on Lifetime
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Barbara Eden
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Barbara Eden: TV's Genie She was talented and lucky enough to land the lead role on the hit TV show "I Dream of Jeannie," but in her personal life, Barbara Eden's wishes did not always come true. As a child, Eden was painfully shy, due in part to a vision problem that forced her to wear an eye patch. Luckily, the girl's adoring mother drew her out of her shell by encouraging her to sing while they washed dishes together. After graduating from high school in 1949, Eden began to study music at a San Francisco college, but when she discovered the joy of acting classes, she found her true calling. In the early '50s, Eden relocated to Los Angeles to try her luck as an actress. After some lean days, Eden landed a recurring part on "The Johnny Carson Show" and then the classic comedy "I Love Lucy." Lucille Ball encouraged her to develop her natural comedic talents. In the mid-1950s, Twentieth Century Fox signed Eden to a studio contract, and she appeared in a string of movies opposite such heartthrobs as Elvis Presley and Paul Newman. In 1957, Eden was cast in the TV adaptation of "How to Marry a Millionaire"; she played the part Marilyn Monroe had in the movie version. The actress' biggest break came in 1964, when her agent sent her the script for "I Dream of Jeannie" and she was offered the lead role of the wacky, wonderful genie. That same year, she and her then-husband, actor Michael Ansara, were expecting a child, and in August 1965, Matthew was born. In 1970, " I Love Jeannie" was cancelled, and Eden endured yet another disappointment when she learned that her second baby had died in her womb at seven-and-a-half months. Eden's marriage dissolved under the strain of that trauma. Soon afterward she married her second husband, a newspaper executive from Chicago, but they eventually divorced. Things began looking up for Eden again in the '80s, when she worked steadily on a variety of television projects and met her current husband, real estate developer Jon Eicholtz. Eden's relentless work ethic is what has sustained her during her rough times, including the roughest of them all: the death of her son in 2001 from a heroin overdose. With the love and support of her family and friends, she continues to do what gives her — and her audience — pleasure: act.moreless

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