Eden had been a star in big movies and the leading lady of one of television’s most popular shows – what was left? Well, how about starring in theater productions? Eden had actually taken the stage a number of times since 1964, but her most popular outing was probably as Tess Harding in “Woman of the Year” in 1984. She plays a busy TV personality who gets into a relationship with a handsome cartoonist.
This was the play’s first national tour after none other than Lauren Bacall had played the main character during the Broadway run. Tess is up for the eponymous award, but she has to decide between her career and her relationship and needs a lot of help figuring out what will truly make her happy.
The Show of the Movie
The “Harper Valley PTA” series ran for two years, from January 1981 to August 1982, comprising thirty episodes. Barbara Eden starred in the entire thing, along with names such as Fannie Flagg, Jenn Thompson, Anne Francine, and Bridget Hanley. Also, Eden once again plays her own evil twin just by putting on a black wig – no doubt this was mostly just an homage to Eden’s far more famous earlier series.
Most of the humor came from the same thing as the movie – Eden’s character flouting the small town’s conventions and exposing the hypocrisy of the most notorious residents. She tangled with different families, the town’s mayor, and had an eccentric uncle who was always trying to invent something, though his gadgets never worked right.
Showing Off the Gams
You probably know by now that Eden had a lot of physical advantages going for her, including her long and shapely legs. To that point, she acted as the spokeswoman for the L’eggs brand pantyhose from 1979 to 1983, appearing in a series of print ads as well as TV commercials for the brand. This product actually radically changed the hosiery marketplace by coming in egg-shaped plastic containers and the in-store product racks that emphasized egg containers.
In the seventies and early eighties, pantyhose was a big part of women’s fashion, but as the eighties rolled on, their share of the market started to dwindle. However, thanks to the revolutions that the product had created and the help of Barbara Eden, L’egg maintained a lot of the market share even into the nineties.
Bringing the Band Back Together
While on the road with the “Woman of the Year” show, Eden couldn't do much other acting, but after that, it was back to her most popular role. In 1985, she starred in the film “I Dream of Jeannie… Fifteen Years Later.” It was the first of two reunion films for the famous series. It’s been fifteen years since we last saw the characters. Jeannie has been a housewife for fifteen years, and Tony Nelson is being promoted to Colonel, soon to retire from the NASA space program.
Jeannie wants to throw a party for him, but, as you might expect, complications arise. There’s even a space flight that is in danger of being struck by a meteor! The audience even thinks that Jeannie and Tony are broken up at the end until Jeannie uses some magic to fix things.
She Still Had It
Ratings were good enough for the television special that NBC decided they would run it on prime time for a second showing. T.J. Nelson, the child of Jeannie and Tony, is revealed to have the same magic powers as his mother, which adds a whole new wrinkle to the story. Barbara Eden clearly still had the magic she did back when the show was on the air, but Larry Hagman did not.
He was starring in the CBS series “Dallas” at the time and wasn’t able to reprise his role of Tony Nelson. Instead, actor Wayne Rogers filled in for him. The film even went back to the very same beach where the show began, the same one where Tony Nelson found Jeannie’s bottle.