Thursday, July 18, 2013

Me TV Summer of Classic TV Blogathon: I Dream of Jeannie.

I Dream of Jeannie, is a very charming TV show starring Barbara Eden as a 2,000-year-old genie and Larry Hagman as an astronaut who becomes her master, with whom she falls in love with. The series was created and produced by Sidney Sheldon, who had trouble finding the perfect genie, until he contacted Barbara Eden's agent.

"Jeannie's" costume was created by Hollywood costume designer Gwen Wakeling. (March 3, 1901 – June 16, 1982), who was a personal favorite of Cecil B. DeMille. Her first film was his 1927 epic "The King of Kings", and she earned an Academy Award for her work on his version of "Samson and Delilah" (1950).

In a career spanning over 140 films, she also worked for director John Ford on films: "The Prisoner of Shark Island" (1936), "Drums Along the Mohawk" (1939), "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940) and "How Green Was My Valley" (1941), and provided the costumes for most of the Shirley Temple films.

One of her last assignments was creating Barbara Eden's "Jeannie" costumes for I Dream Of Jeannie. Barbara Eden selected the pink/maroon color combination of Jeannie's harem outfit (The two colors symbolize different aspects of Jeannie's personality: pink symbolizes the playful, girlish aspects of her personality while maroon symbolizes the fiery, headstrong aspects of her personality.) Barbara also selected the purple trim of her bottle. Jeannie's '60's-era harem costume is now housed in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C..

Censors allowed "Jeannie" to be living in a house with an unmarried man because early episodes made it clear that she slept in her bottle, but did not want Eden's navel to be seen.

The makers of the series were also presented with the problem of filming around Eden's real-life pregnancy during the first eleven episodes of season one, without writing it into the story-line.  At first, she wore veils to hide her abdomen. As her pregnancy progressed, producers used body doubles and filmed Eden only above the waist, although her belly is visible in some profile shots.

In the pilot episode, "The Lady in the Bottle", astronaut Captain Tony Nelson, US Air Force, is on a space flight when his capsule "Stardust One" comes down on a deserted island in the South Pacific.

On the beach, Tony notices a strange bottle that rolls by itself. When he rubs it after removing the stopper, smoke starts billowing out and a Persian-speaking female genie materializes and kisses Tony.

They cannot understand each other until Tony makes a wish that Jeannie speak English, which she does, then he wishes to be rescued. Tony, who is so grateful that he tells her she's free.

But Jeannie, who has fallen in love with Tony at first sight after being trapped for 2000 years, re-enters her bottle and rolls it into Tony's duffel bag so she can go home with him.

Tony at first keeps Jeannie in her bottle most of the time, but as time goes by he allows her more time out of the bottle. Her desire to please her "Master" gets them in all kinds of trouble.

Tony' wants to keep her hidden because he is worried that he might be dismissed from the space program if her existence were known. Dr. Bellows tries to prove to his superiors that Tony is either crazy or hiding something.

Fun Facts:

The first bottle was a special Christmas 1964 Jim Beam liquor decanter containing "Beam's Choice" bourbon whiskey. It was designed by Roy Kramer for the Wheaton Bottle Company. For years, it was said that Sidney Sheldon received one as a gift and thought it would be a perfect design for the series.

Several people in the Screen Gems art department also take credit for finding the bottle. There is strong evidence, however, that it was first season director Gene Nelson who saw one in a liquor store and bought it, bringing it to Sidney Sheldon. Jeannie's bottle was left its original dark, smoke-green color, with a painted gold leaf pattern (to make it look like an antique), during the first season.

Since the show was originally filmed in black and white, a lot of colors and patterns were not necessary. When the show switched to color, the show's Art Director came up with a brightly colored purple bottle to replace the original. The first season bottle had a clear glass stopper that Tony took from a 1956 Old Grand-Dad Bourbon bottle in his home, as the original stopper was left behind on the beach where Tony found Jeannie.

In the first color episode, Jeannie returns to the beach and her bottle is seen to have its original stopper (painted to match the bottle), presumably retrieved by her upon her return there. The rest of the TV series (and the movies) used the original bottle stopper. During the first season, in black and white, the smoke effect was usually a screen overlay of billowing smoke, sometimes combined with animation. Early color episodes used a purely animated smoke effect. Sometime later a live smoke pack, lifted out of the bottle on a wire, was used. Jeannie's color-episodes bottle was painted mainly in pinks and purples, while the bottle for the Blue Djinn was a first-season design with a heavy green wash.

No one knows exactly how many bottles were used during the show, but members of the production have estimated that twelve bottles were painted and used during the run of the series. The stunt bottle used mostly for the smoke effect was broken frequently by the heat and chemicals used to produce Jeannie's smoke.

In the pilot episode, several bottles were used for the opening scene on the beach one was drilled through the bottom for smoke and another was used to walk across the sand and slip into Tony's pack. Two bottles were used from promotional tours to kick off the first season and one bottle was used for the first-season production.

Barbara Eden was allowed to keep the color stunt bottle used on the last day of filming the final episode of the television series. It was given to her by her make-up woman after the show was canceled while the show was on hiatus.

You can own your own Jeannie Bottle by clicking here.

This post is part of Me-TV's Summer of Classic TV Blogathon, hosted by the Classic TV Blog Association. You can go to to learn more about Me-TV and its summer line-up of classic TV shows.

Participating blogs:

Monday, July 15
Columbo ("The Most Dangerous Match") - Made for TV Mayhem
A Classic Kimble-Gerard Episode of The Fugitive - Classic Film & TV Cafe
Get Smart - Classic Movie Hub
The Green Hornet - Ramblings of a Broadway, Film, and TV Fan
The Mary Tyler Moore Show - Outspoken & Freckled
My Three Sons Caftan Woman
That Girl ("Christmas and the Hard Luck Kid") - Christmas TV History

Tuesday, July 16
Adam-12 - Comet Over Hollywood
Bob Crane and The Donna Reed Show - Vote for Bob Crane
Burke's Law It's About TV
Family Affair Michael's TV Tray
The Honeymooners The Lady Eve's Reel Life
Make Room for Daddy - How Sweet It Was (Aurora)

Wednesday, July 17
The Mothers-in-Law Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
The Odd Couple - Classic Sports TV and Media
Route 66 The Stalking Moon
Star Trek Begins: The Origins of James T. Kirk Pastimescapes
Svengoolie Journeys in Classic Film
Working Women of Classic TV Broadcasting Archives at the University of Maryland

Thursday, July 18
Car 54, Where Are You? - The Horn Section
The Dick Van Dyke Show - Classicfilmboy's Movie Paradise
Dragnet - Comfort TV
I Dream of Jeannie - Noir and Chick Flicks
The Five Best Episodes of Mission: Impossible Classic Film & TV Cafe
Adam-12: Where is a Show So Realistic That Its Actors Win
    LAPD Awards? - Durham on the Cheap

Friday, July 19
Bewitched , Bothered, and Belittled - Christy's Inkwells
Columbo - How Sweet It Was (Paul)
Leave It to Beaver: A Father's Journey - Embarrassing Treasures
Family Affair Silver Scenes
The Odd Couple - Twenty Four Frames
Rhoda - Made for TV Mayhem
Thriller The Last Drive in


  1. In one of her guest appearances on "Burke's Law", Barbara Eden wears a "Jeannie" type outfit. Do you think that inspired Sidney Sheldon? He never said.

    Barbara Eden seems like the sweetest lady ever and I love this silly show for its silly heart. Really enjoyed your article.

    1. I have never seen an episode of "Burke's Law," so.. I have no idea if Sidney Sheldon was inspired by her outfit.. but, her outfit is so amazing I would not doubt it..

      Thank you.. Barbara Eden, does seem like the sweetest person ever. That is why I loved the show so much.

  2. My best friend from high school and I have argued for years over which was the better fantasy-sorcery sitcom. She's a Bewitched fan, while my preference is for I Dream of Jeannie (though I actually do like both). I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I'm unmarried, so I always found myself frustrated that Samantha was a housebound hausfrau while Jeannie was more free-spirited and, despite the fact she called Major Nelson "Master" (that's the bit that bugs my high school chum), pretty much did whatever the heck she wanted.

    I also loved Jeannie because Dr. Bellows has always been one of my favorite sitcom characters - a psychiatrist who had reason to doubt his own sanity. (I felt sorry for that guy.)

    1. I like both shows too.. but, right now I'm on a "I Dream of Jeannie" kick. I thought all Jeannie's called the keeper of the magic bottle "master". Even the boy Jeannie's. :)

      I could not wait to see what they would do to Dr. Bellows each week.. It was great!

  3. Great article! Barbara Eden is fun to watch, and I also remember her on Burke's Law. Don't you think Bill Daily's character retired from the service, moved to Chicago, and became an airline pilot?

    1. Thank you. Now, I'm beginning to regret never watching Burke's Law.

  4. I didn't realize "Jeannie" started out as a b&w series - it certainly was meant to be filmed in color!

    Good of you to give Gwen Wakeling, Fox's relatively unsung costume designer, a deserved nod. One of my favorites of the films she worked on is "The Rains Came" (1939) - her gowns for Myrna Loy are lovely.

    1. I agree.. I watched the first episode in black and white recently.. It is just not the same.

      "Jeannie's" costume was quite amazing and I have often wondered over the years who designed it.

  5. Dawn,you always dig up fascinating facts about TV shows and movies. It was fun to learn that Gwen Wakeling was a veteran at designing skimpy costumes (though Delilah's were just kinda skimpy). And the history of Jeannie's bottle was even more interesting. While I watched both I DREAM OF JEANNIE and BEWITCHED, I'll have to disagree with Ivan and go with Samantha. Though Barbara Eden is lovely, Elizabeth Montgomery had this playful look that always go to me.

    1. Thank you.

      I think it would be fun to own one of the bottles from the TV show.. but, how much stuff can one collect. My house is only so big. :)

  6. I love the color episodes of Jeannie. It's just so vibrant. I was at a Chiller a few years ago and met Larry Hagman. I was there for the Dallas cast gathering, but there was also a Jeannie gathering being held at the same time. Eden was there and I got to see her, but didn't get to meet her (Larry was super nice, and meeting him is one of my most cherished memories).

    I had not thought much about the bottle, but wow, you got some great factoids! Thank you for this post. Loved it!

    1. Wow!! What fun that must have been for you. Have you ever noticed how much better in person the actors look then they do on screen?

      I just love the bottles, so colorful!!

  7. LOVE "I Dream of Jeannie"--thanks for reminding me how awesome this show is. This Bewitched vs. Jeannie conversation reminds me that both characters has a dark-haired "evil twin" that was either a sister or a cousin (I can't remember which). What fun!

    1. Oh.. you are right. I forgot about the double roles..

  8. Loved the post. The show may be considered silly by some, but it's inspired silliness with a great cast to carry it off. This and Bewitched were two favorites of childhood, and frankly I hate it when people ask you to choose between the two. They are both distinctive and really shouldn't be compared. I think if Jeannie and Samantha met, they'd instantly like each other!

    1. I agree... It is hard to choose between the two shows, but right now I'm in a "I DREAM OF JEANNIE" kick.

  9. Fun post! I've always been more of a "Bewitched" girl, but I loved learning more about Jeannie's costume and bottle.

  10. What a fun post! I love this show - although I have to admit I've already said the same thing in a few other posts for this event. I Dream of Jeannie was a favorite of mine when I was a kid and it also reminds me of my favorite uncle who, already old, would be glued to the set whenever the show was playing in reruns. Without understanding a word of English, I would hear him laughing heartily from whatever room I was in the house. Although I know Barbara Eden had a lot to do with why he watched.

    Thanks for posting! :-D


    1. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your past memories with us.. I feel that this is what the blogathon is all about.

  11. I have to say I could never get into this show, although Barbara Eden could not be more charming. Sets and costumes, too, are fabulous. Your blog has inspired me to give this another go.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.