In decades past, few shows were ever been able to rival sports programming when it came to capturing the attention of the adult male television demographic. Why, to do that, one would first need a beautiful woman – perhaps a subservient beautiful woman – okay, how about a beautiful subservient woman that not only worships her male master but has the power to grant his every wish. To borrow from sports terminology – Game, set, match. This winning, testosterone-inducing formula helped make I Dream of Jeannie one of the most popular and successful sitcoms of all time.
Debuting in 1964, I Dream of Jeannie was NBC’s answer to the highly popular series, Bewitched, which aired on rival network, ABC. The show was created by well-known author Sidney Sheldon and inspired by the film The Brass Bottle, which starred Tony Randall and Barbara Eden. Although Eden didn’t play a genie in the film, she made enough of an impression to land the starring role in the new series.
She was paired with future Dallas tycoon Larry Hagman as Astronaut Tony Nelson, who upon making an emergency landing on a deserted island, comes across a mysterious bottle. When he uncorks it and gives it a little rub, pink smoke pours out, followed by a beautiful genie named Jeannie, who instantly falls in love with her new master. With a nod of the head, she sends a rescue signal and soon both are back at Tony’s home where his life is forever altered.
Part of the appeal of I Dream of Jeannie (especially from the female audiences who weren’t necessarily watching for the eye candy) had to do with the show’s wonderful physical comedy, thanks to Larry Hagman who proved himself quite adept at performing pratfalls at the drop of a hat. And for those viewers who were enticed by the romantic prospects between the two characters, their wish was granted in the fourth season where Jeannie and Tony were finally wed.
I Dream of Jeannie ran for five seasons and, during its history, included a number of guest appearances from A-list comedic actors including Jim Backus, Milton Berle, Jackie Coogan, Groucho Marx, and Paul Lynde. When the show finally ended, after 139 episodes, it resurfaces almost immediately in syndication, where it remains to this day. It seems that fans never tire of Jeannie’s revealing costume or of the magical chemistry between its stars – both of which combined to make I Dream of Jeannie one of the most beloved shows to ever grace the airwaves.
If you hold fond memories of watching I Dream of Jeannie as a kid, maybe even had a crush on Barbara Eden, we hope you’ll share your memories of this classic sitcom with all of us in our comments section.