I DREAM OF TEXAS Barbara Eden, fondly remembered for her role as the foxy genie on the sixties sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, will be in Lubbock November 30 through December 2 starring in a national tour of the Broadway show The Odd Couple: The Female Version. Eden will be playing the neat freak, Florence Unger, and Rita McKenzie will be playing the slob, Olive Madison.
You worked with Larry Hagman, first on I Dream of Jeannie and then on Dallas, so that gives you a Texas connection. I have more of a Texas connection than that. My mom and dad were born in El Paso. I wasn’t born there, but I lived there from age two to four with my grandparents on Upson Avenue. I remember it vividly. We’d go over to Juárez, and I’d get shoes, zapatos. I remember walking over the bridge. There was a pond of alligators in a park that Grandma and Grandpa would take me to look at.
Have you been back to Texas since? When I was doing Jeannie, I did my first nightclub performance in Houston at the Shamrock Hotel. I broke in my Las Vegas act there. And Dallas—where was I? I believe it was the Fairmont. I remember some of the Dallas Cowboys came to see it.
When you were doing I Dream of Jeannie, you were five foot three and around 112 pounds, and you had all the curves. What was your secret? Five foot three and three quarters, actually. I was working hard. I didn’t have time to go to a gym, but I did a lot of dancing for my act. There were a lot of variety shows on television then, and I often appeared on those. So I was always rehearsing for something. And Jeannie was an active role physically. I was always using my muscles.
The relationship between Jeannie and her master, Major Nelson [played by Larry Hagman], sort of mirrored the battle-of-the-sexes thing that was going on at the time, and Jeannie always prevailed. Do you think it’s a fair fight when a woman uses her sexuality to win? Well, I think we have to use what we have. But Jeannie didn’t really do that, you know. If she knew, she would have. But she didn’t; she was a little naive.
What was it like to work with Hagman again later, when you appeared on Dallas?
It was strange. We were both laughing about it. It was like we’d never stopped. We looked across the set, and it was “Oh, my God.”
What was it like in that bottle? It was very comfy.
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