In 1965, NBC launched a brand-new TV sitcom meant to compete with the hit show Bewitched. I Dream of Jeannie, starring Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman, was born. Featuring a stylish genie and a respectable NASA astronaut, that series went on to become immensely popular, even years after its run ended.
Although I Dream of Jeannie wasn’t an instant hit when it first premiered, it steadily grew in popularity over the years. Now, it’s one of TV history’s most beloved series – and Jeannie herself is an iconic figure. But, like so many other classic television shows that aired during the 1960s and 1970s, a whole lot happened behind the scenes. While viewers saw a perfectly content Jeannie and Major Tony Nelson on their screens, drama was happening both during and after filming. And the details are sure to surprise you.
Whether you’re a serious I Dream of Jeannie fan or simply someone who’s always tuned in, you’ll love these little-known facts about the behind-the-scenes workings of this famous TV show.
Barbara Eden Was Pregnant During the Show’s First Season
If there’s one thing Barbara Eden’s character Jeannie was known for on I Dream of Jeannie, it’s her skimpy genie outfit. Bold and daring – and even belly baring – Jeannie’s famous attire surprised audiences and made her quite famous.
But what many viewers and fans of the show don’t realize is that Jeannie was actually more covered up in the first season than she was in later seasons. No, it wasn’t an issue with network standards. Eden was actually pregnant during the filming of season one, which made it impossible to show off her belly as Jeannie.
So, in every season one episode except for the pilot, Eden (and Jeannie) were covered up. Producers worked hard to hide her stomach, and no one was any wiser.
Larry Hagman Had a Drinking Problem
Larry Hagman played Major Tony Nelson, the male star and companion to Eden’s Jeannie. While Hagman’s character appeared strait-laced and quite respectable on the series, he was completely different in real life – and behind the scenes.
Hagman actually suffered from a drinking problem. It was rumored that he poured bourbon instead of milk on his cereal. Because of this, he was highly unpredictable on set while filming I Dream of Jeannie. The more Hagman drank, the angrier he became and the darker his personality turned. Once, he showed up on set wearing a gorilla costume. On another day, he arrived with an ax in hand, screaming profanities.
The cast, crew, and even local neighbors nicknamed Hagman “The Mad Monk of Malibu” because of his crazy, often alcohol-fueled behavior.