Although there had been several attempts throughout the 1950s and early 1960s to create a TV sitcom based on the legend of Aladdin's Lamp -- one of these, "Al Haddon's Lamp," featured Buddy Ebsen as a bucolic genie -- the premise did not result in a full series until producer Sidney Sheldon hit upon the brilliant idea of featuring a sexy female genie. Debuting… See more details below
Although there had been several attempts throughout the 1950s and early 1960s to create a TV sitcom based on the legend of Aladdin's Lamp -- one of these, "Al Haddon's Lamp," featured Buddy Ebsen as a bucolic genie -- the premise did not result in a full series until producer Sidney Sheldon hit upon the brilliant idea of featuring a sexy female genie. Debuting September 18, 1965 on NBC, the weekly, half-hour I Dream of Jeannie starred Barbara Eden as Jeannie, a curvaceous blonde bottle imp rescued from 2500 years' imprisonment by astronaut Tony Nelson (Larry Hagman). Out of gratitude, Jeannie arranged for Tony to likewise be rescued from a desert island, then followed him to his home in Cocoa Beach, Florida, there to serve and obey her new "master." Unable to convince anyone that he'd found a genuine genie, Tony opted instead to keep Jeannie's presence, and her true identity, a secret, which proved problematic whenever our heroine used her magic to get her master in and out of various jams. The only other person who knew Jeannie's secret was Tony's astronaut buddy Roger Healy (Bill Daily), whose various efforts to profit from Jeannie's awesome powers invariably came a-cropper. Also featured was Hayden Rorke as Cocoa Beach's air force psychiatrist Dr. Alfred Bellows, who was convinced that the mysterious goings-on in Maj. Healy's household were proof that Tony was crazy and delusional, obliging Jeannie to gently discredit Bellows in the eyes of his superiors week after week after week. Although Tony tried to maintain a normal social life with several girlfriends, these relationships were forever scuttled by the jealous Jeannie, who of course had fallen in love with her master. Ultimately, Tony reciprocated Jeannie's affections, and the couple was married during the series' fifth and final season. By this time, Jeannie had begun wearing "civilian" clothes and had pretty much forsaken the midriff-baring harem costumes that had been her trademark in the first few seasons (Amusingly, network censors demanded that the series' producers disguise the fact that Barbara Eden had, like practically every other woman on earth, been born with a belly button!) Complicating the lives of the principal characters were several "visitors" from Jeannie's past life in Baghdad. Among these were Jeannie's twin sister Jeannie II (also played by Barbara Eden), a dark-haired vixen who hatched endless sinister schemes to snag Tony for herself; and Jeannie's magical pet dog Djinn Djinn, who managed to render himself invisible at the most inopportune moments. Lasting 139 episodes (109 of these in color), I Dream of Jeannie ended its NBC run on September 1, 1990. Barbara Eden went on to star in a brace of "reunion" TV movies, telecast in 1985 and 1991; and from 1973 to 1975 an animated version of the property, simply titled Jeannie, was seen on CBS' Saturday-morning lineup.
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