One of the movies Eden had starred in during 1964 was called “A Brass Bottle,” and you might find the setup familiar. It’s a fantasy-comedy about a modern-day man who accidentally acquires a bottle that contains an ancient genie. The two strike up a friendship. Eden plays Tony Randalls’s girlfriend, Sylvia. Maybe there was some kind of focus on genies in bottles going around. This was before Disney’s “Aladdin,” but long after the idea was first created, so who knows?
Well, it turns out producer Sidney Sheldon saw Eden acting in that film and thought she would be perfect to audition for his new series, “I Dream of Jeannie.” Yes, we’ve finally gotten around to it. Sheldon approached her in 1965, asking her to audition, and Eden was quick to say yes.
Final Films for Fox
Barbara Eden had turned from a budding star with plenty of potential into a REAL star who was earning 20th Century Fox plenty of money. Her final films under contract were the 1962 film “Five Weeks in a Balloon” with Red Buttons, an adventure film loosely based on the 1863 novel of the same name by Jules Verne. The very last film she had under contract, in 1963, was the thriller film “The Yellow Canary,” and Eden starred alongside Pat Boone.
The screenplay was written by Rod Serling (From “The Twilight Zone”) from a novel by Whit Masterson. Eden played the aggravated wife of a pop star as the two have to frantically search for their son after he is kidnapped. After it was done, Eden’s contract was up with Fox.
Plenty of Good Job Prospects
Being out without a safety net like a contract can be scary, but Eden probably wasn’t all that worried. She had proved she was bursting with star power. Plump with it. Absolutely straining with the stuff. And she had nothing to be worried about – despite Hollywood’s ability to chew up starlets, she was in a grand total of FIVE movies in 1964. In a pair of them, “7 Faces of Dr. Lao” and “The Brass Bottle,” she starred opposite Tony Randall.
There was also “Quick, Let’s Get Married,” “The New Interns,” and “Ride the Wild Stuff.” Of these movies, “The New Interns” was probably the most successful, but none of them really did gangbusters – even that film barely earned two and a half million dollars.
One of the Many Beautiful
Producer Sheldon had, at that point, auditioned numerous young women, from brunette starlets to...brunette beauty queens. We think we know what he needs to change. Work had begun in 1964, at which point “Bewitched” was the number-two show on television. He knew he had a good idea for something with comedy, romance, and a fantastic element, but he needed the right woman to be the genie.
After seeing “The Brass Bottle,” he figured he might as well give Eden a chance to audition. We wonder if the fact that the movie was about a genie helped his decision-making process, even if it wasn’t Eden herself who was the one coming out of the bottle. But Eden was a little taken aback when she found out who she was competing against for the spot on the series.
Sure, Eden was a lovely lady, and she’d actually had some success as a beauty contestant, but she was an actress and not a model. Sheldon tempted Eden to the show, and Eden was happy to try out – especially after Sheldon was so flattering about her resume. It was then that Eden found out who she would be competing against.
In an interview with Channel to News in Australia, she said that when she found out all the other women competing for the job were models and beauty pageant winners, she had to actually ask her agent if Sheldon knew that she was primarily an actress and not just a pretty face. But it was clear that Eden suddenly had a leg-up on the other women. Not only was she a blonde bombshell, but she was also a trained and talented actress, too.