Did you grow up watching the hilarious romantic sitcom I Dream of Jeannie? This was a unique sitcom that managed to combine comedy, romance, science fiction, and fantasy all at once! At the time of its release, this was almost revolutionary for American television.
The show followed astronaut Tony Nelson who finds a beautiful woman on his travels throughout outer space. He brings the beautiful woman, Jeannie, back to Earth with him – and they eventually fall in love.
The I Dream of Jeannie cast is what made the show into a great success. They gave some of American television’s finest performances.
Let’s look back at some of the cast members who are no longer with us as well as catch up with Barbara Eden, to see how she’s doing…
Major Tony Nelson played by Larry Hagman. Larry Hagman was born on September 21, 1931 in Fort Worth, Texas. His father was the district attorney, and his mother was the actress, Mary Martin.
So, you could say that Larry had acting in his genes! He went on to study at Bard College and decided to follow in his mother’s footsteps and become an actor.
Larry began acting in plays at The Woodstock Playhouse in New York. He became a prominent stage actor but wanted to make the transition to working in television, which was going through a boom in the 1950s and 1960s. He played a few bit parts on TV shows in the 1950s and even had a few film roles in the 1960s – such as in the film Ensign Pulver alongside Jack Nicholson and Fail-Safe alongside Henry Fonda.
In 1965, he cast as Major Tony Nelson in I Dream of Jeannie and the rest is history. His performance made him one of the most recognizable faces on American television. He would continue receiving accolades when he cast as J.R. in Dallas in the 1970s.
Larry Hagman passed away in 2012 from acute myeloid leukemia. At his deathbed, actress Linda Gray was by his side. She said about Larry, “No matter what the situation was, he made it fun. Most people lose that as they get older: We have to be responsible; we have to be adults — but not Larry.”
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One of the great supporting characters in I Dream of Jeannie was Roger Healy, played by Bill Daily.
Bill Daily was born in Des Moines, Iowa on August 30, 1927. He started his entertainment career as a musician – playing bass in a Jazz band called “Jack and the Beanstalks.” He then drafted into the military and served in the Korean War.
After the war, he began taking acting classes. It was in these classes that he developed his comic timing and was set to become a noted comic character actor.
In the 1960s, he appeared in many comedic sketches for variety shows hosted by Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, and Steve Allen. He then cast as Roger Healy in I Dream of Jeannie in 1965 – which became his best-known role.
Bill later played Howard Borden in The Bob Newhart Show – another well-known role of his. He passed away from natural causes in 2018, at the age of 91.
Another one of the supporting roles in the show was Dr. Bellows, played by Hayden Rorke. His mother was actress Margaret Rorke and he decided to follow in her footsteps.
He began much of his career playing small roles in films such as Kim, The Magnificent Yankee, and An American In Paris.
He later had bit parts on television shows such as The Lone Ranger, The Andy Griffith Show, Peter Gunn, and The Beverly Hillbillies among many others. But his best-known role was as Dr. Bellows in I Dream of Jeannie.
In this role, he tried to figure out why Major Tony Nelson was always behaving oddly. Little did he know that the good Major was in love with the beautiful Jeannie!
After finishing his work on I Dream of Jeannie Hayden Rorke spent much of his later career acting on stage. He died of multiple myeloma at the age of 76 in 1987.
Dr. Bellows married to Amanda Bellows, who was played by actress Emmaline Henry. She known for her work in the film Rosemary’s Baby and in the short-lived television show I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster.
But she best known for her role in I Dream of Jeannie. She had first appeared in the show as a character named Myrt in the first season. It was in the second season where she was cast as Amanda Bellows. In this role, she got to show her comic genius which made her one of the most-loved cast members.
The shows creator Sidney Sheldon would later remark that Emmaline Henry was easy to work with as well as a pleasure to work with. Following the cancellation of the show, she had many bit parts on other popular TV shows. These included The Bob Newhart Show, Green Acres, The Munsters, and Bonanza.
Unfortunately, she passed away from a brain tumor at 50 years old in 1979. While her death was too early, it’s amazing that she was able to accumulate a great body of work in such a short timespan. She’ll always remembered for her incredible talent and her role as Amanda Bellows!
One of the other great characters on the show was General Martin Petersen. He appeared in the first four seasons of the show and was played by Barton MacLane.
Barton MacLane was born in 1902 in Columbia, South Carolina. He began his acting career early, landing a small role in the silent film The Quarterback. Barton became known for playing hard-boiled roles in films such as The Maltese Falcon and The Treasure of Sierra Madre. He became well-known in Westerns as well including High Sierra and Hell’s Outpost.
He showed us his comic skills when he joined the I Dream of Jeannie cast. As General Martin Petersen, he provided some of the biggest laughs on the show. He passed away from pneumonia at the age of 66 in 1969. A few episodes featuring General Petersen were aired following Barton MacLane’s death.
He will always be remembered as a versatile actor who managed to play hardboiled film roles but also had impeccable comic talents.
The character of General Petersen was replaced by another character named General Winfield Schaeffer.
This role was played by actor Vinton Hayworth. Vinton Hayworth was born in Washington D.C., and began his acting career as a teenager. He also had a remarkable career in radio. Barton started working as a radio announcer in the early 1920s.
He also performed on many radio series such as Archie Andrews and It’s Higgins, Sir. His film career began in the 1930s with one of his most notable roles being in the film China Passage.
He played bit parts and recurring roles on a number of different TV shows. These included Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Gunsmoke, Dennis The Menace, Dick Tracy, The Munsters, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction.
He was cast as General Winfield Schaeffer in seasons 5 and 6 in I Dream of Jeannie. He perfectly managed to replace the role of General Petersen played by Barton MacLane. In this role, he showed his comic talents.
He died of a heart attack in 1970 at the age of 63. He died shortly after finishing work on I Dream of Jeannie.
But the star of the show, Barbara Eden is still with us. Barbara Eden was born in 1931 in Tucson, Arizona.
She began her acting career in the 1950s – playing bit parts and recurring roles on many popular TV shows. These included sketches on The Johnny Carson Show, and roles on shows such as I Love Lucy, The Virginian, Slattery’s People, The Andy Griffith Show, and Saints and Sinners – among many others.
But she became a huge star when she was cast as Jeannie in I Dream of Jeannie. This role let her show off her acting skills in a lead role. She also became a sex symbol throughout the country.
After her work on the show, she continued to act in film and television. Her film roles included work in films such as A Private’s Affair, Flaming Star, The Wayward Girl, and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
She also became the spokeswoman for L’eggs pantyhose. She also adored for her work in musicals such as The Sound of Music, Annie Get Your Gun, The Pajama Game, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
As late as the 1990s and the early 2000s, she continued to act in films. She wrote her memoir in 2011, where she highlighted her joy of working on I Dream of Jeannie. Barbara continues to make public appearances and loves discussing her time working on the show.
She proved herself to be a versatile actress who managed to conquer the big screen as well as the silver screen.
But no matter what, we’ll always be grateful for her work on I Dream of Jeannie….
Are you a fan of I Dream of Jeannie?
Do you think that the show is still popular today? Or is it too dated and not something that younger generations will enjoy?
Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
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