Film and TV actress Barbara Eden was born Barbara Jean Huffman on August 23, 1934, in Tucson, Arizona, to, Alice Huffman and Harrison Connor Huffman. Eden was a cheerleader in high school and a pop singer as a teenager. She graduated in 1949 from Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, California.
Eden is most indelibly associated with her role as the genie in the bottle in the long-running TV sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, co-starring Larry Hagman.
In I Dream of Jeannie, Major Anthony Nelson (Hagman) is a NASA astronaut who finds a decorative pink bottle on a desert island after he splashes down in the ocean. The bottle has a beautiful blond genie in it (Eden), who immediately assumes that Nelson is her master. He brings her home to live in Cocoa Beach, Florida. In each episode, the forbidden use of Jeannie’s well-meaning mystical powers alters reality in some wacky way that must be carefully explained away by Nelson. No other person knows of Jeannie’s existence except for Nelson’s bumbling friend, Major Roger Healey. Together they conspire to keep her secret from everyone else, especially from Nelson’s commanding officers at NASA.
The sitcom gained a cult following, and Eden appeared from time to time in commercials and cameos that poke gentle fun at her former role.
Before focusing on a TV career, Eden had parts in a series of unremarkable films in the 1950s and 1960s. Her first film role was in Back from Eternity (1956). In 1957, she starred on TV in How to Marry a Millionaire (1957) and after I Dream of Jeannie’s successful five year run from 1965 to 1970, she starred in Harper Valley PTA (1981-82). She published her autobiography, Barbara Eden: My Story, in October 1986.