Saturday, August 15, 2015

Don't Blink Too Hard. . .

SYNOPSIS:

Over the past four decades, the landmark NBC hit television series I Dream of Jeannie has delighted generations of audiences and inspired untold numbers of teenage crushes on its beautiful blond star, Barbara Eden. Part pristine Hollywood princess and part classic bombshell, with innocence, strength, and comedic talent to spare, Barbara finally lets Jeannie out of her bottle to tell her whole story.

Jeannie Out of the Bottle takes us behind the scenes of I Dream of Jeannie as well as Barbara’s dozens of other stage, movie, television, and live concert performances. We follow her from the hungry years when she was a struggling studio contract player at 20th Century Fox through difficult weeks trying to survive as a chorus girl at Ciro’s Sunset Strip supper club, from a stint as Johnny Carson’s sidekick on live TV to tangling on-screen and off with some of Hollywood’s most desirable leading men, including Elvis Presley, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, and Warren Beatty. From the ups and downs of her relationship with her Jeannie co-star Larry Hagman to a touching meeting with an exquisite and vulnerable Marilyn Monroe at the twilight of her career, readers join Barbara on a thrilling journey through her five decades in Hollywood. 

But Barbara’s story is also an intimate and honest memoir of personal tragedy: a stillborn child with her first husband, Michael Ansara; a verbally abusive, drug-addicted second husband; the loss of her beloved mother; and the accidental heroin-induced death of her adult son, just months before his wedding. With candor and poignancy, Barbara reflects on the challenges she has faced, as well as the joys she has experienced and how she has maintained her humor, optimism, and inimitable Jeannie magic throughout the roller-coaster ride of a truly memorable life. 

Illustrated with sixteen pages of photographs, including candid family pictures and rare publicity stills, Jeannie Out of the Bottle is a must-have for every fan, old and new.

Over the past four decades, the landmark NBC hit television series I Dream of Jeannie has delighted generations of audiences and inspired untold numbers of teenage crushes on its beautiful blond star, Barbara Eden. Part pristine Hollywood princess and part classic bombshell, with innocence, strength, and comedic talent to spare, Barbara finally lets Jeannie out of her bottle to tell her whole story. 

Jeannie Out of the Bottle takes us behind the scenes of I Dream of Jeannie as well as Barbara’s dozens of other stage, movie, television, and live concert performances. We follow her from the hungry years when she was a struggling studio contract player at 20th Century Fox through difficult weeks trying to survive as a chorus girl at Ciro’s Sunset Strip supper club, from a stint as Johnny Carson’s sidekick on live TV to tangling on-screen and off with some of Hollywood’s most desirable leading men, including Elvis Presley, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, and Warren Beatty. From the ups and downs of her relationship with her Jeannie co-star Larry Hagman to a touching meeting with an exquisite and vulnerable Marilyn Monroe at the twilight of her career, readers join Barbara on a thrilling journey through her five decades in Hollywood.
 
But Barbara’s story is also an intimate and honest memoir of personal tragedy: a stillborn child with her first husband, Michael Ansara; a verbally abusive, drug-addicted second husband; the loss of her beloved mother; and the accidental heroin-induced death of her adult son, just months before his wedding. With candor and poignancy, Barbara reflects on the challenges she has faced, as well as the joys she has experienced and how she has maintained her humor, optimism, and inimitable Jeannie magic throughout the roller-coaster ride of a truly memorable life. 
 
Illustrated with sixteen pages of photographs, including candid family pictures and rare publicity stills, Jeannie Out of the Bottle is a must-have for every fan, old and new.



Review:

I have always been a fan of Barbara Eden. I never quite knew why I was so drawn to her? Was it her looks? Was it her charm? Was it the character she portrayed? Was it the cute cartoon depiction that opened the show? Although all of those things had me hypnotized, I’d have to say the thing that comes to mind is her realness. There’s something about her that she always personified the down-to-earth type of person, and after having read her memoir, I see I was right about her all along.

I remember the first time I saw her on I Dream of Jeannie and I loved her outfit, her silliness, smarts and charm. Of course, who could wait for her to say “Yes, Master,” and her famous Jeannie Blink. When you’d hear the little noise that signified she was about to blink, I’d get so excited. Call me crazy, but say what you want, that was good television! It was such good TV that you can find an old rerun of the show anywhere in the world at any given time--bringing forth new generations the opportunity to experience the Jeannie Blink and her sexy harem outfit. Factor in one of my all-time favorite authors, Sidney Sheldon, was the creator and writer of the show, so there goes two things that drawn me to the fantasy show. I used to sit and wish I had powers like Jeannie and her bottle she lived in was all that! She had that thing decked out. (LOL)

As usual, I always learn something about people when you read their life story, which is why I love biographies and memoirs. You get to hear, from the horse’s mouth, what really went on from their point of view and it also gives the entertainer the opportunity to clear the air and set the record straight on facts the media almost always blows out of proportion or takes their words out of context. One thing is for certain, Ms. Eden probably wished she could summon up the gifts Jeannie possessed when it came to her personal life.

She was married to the love of her life, Michael Ansara, who, like herself, was a great actor. They seemed to be a match made in heaven, by Ms. Eden’s own admission, and personally I think that she wishes things would have never changed between them. To be married to someone for fifteen years and have a tragic occurrence change the whole dynamic of what your family meant to you, is devastating to say the least. Having been forced to carry a stillborn baby to term knowing your son wasn’t alive, is absolutely horrendous to any parent. Unfortunately, at that time, she had no way of knowing she was suffering from Postpartum Syndrome because back then there wasn’t a label attached to it. The depression she went through took her out of her right mind thereby advising Michael she wanted out of their marriage. As much as he tried to keep their family together, she wasn’t having it. As I read her words, I got the distinct feeling that although her and Michael have new spouses they’ve been with for years now, if she could Jeannie Blink back there and change what happened, she’d still be married to Michael to this very day. 

I felt her pain as she talked about her son she and Michael shared that died of a drug overdose at the young age of thirty-five. OMG, I truly felt her words! It was moving and very touching. She truly opened up about the struggle she had with her only son and his drug problem. Even though she’s been married three times, what I love about her is she took her vows seriously. All the famous men who tried to get her to hop in the sack, she wasn’t having none of it, which is another reason why I respect her artistry so well. You can just tell she’s a no nonsense type of person. She was a square to some of her peers, but she was all business. It can never be said she slept her way to the top. She earned her acting chops the old-fashioned way without succumbing to the rigorous bullshit Hollywood puts forth. 

She openly discussed the problems on the set with her then co-star, Larry Hagman. I remember reading somewhere that he was a handful, and Lord knows she didn’t mince her words when it came to his behavior. It’s a wonder the show ever got off the ground. I loved her performance in Harper Valley PTA, the movie, and the television show adaptation. She still had that ummph! Even though I know she’ll always be best known for Jeannie, Ms. Eden is one hell of an actress and believable in whatever role she portrays. It’s no wonder she’s lasted this long in the business. I certainly hope Hollywood does a feature length movie of I Dream of Jeannie. It would be interesting to see who they cast to fill Ms. Eden’s shoes? ‘Cause trust me, those are some tough shoes to walk in. 

This was an amazing story with life’s usual ups and downs, but fun and light at times with all her stories of Hollywood's yesteryear.  Barbara Eden will always be a class act, in my opinion. She’s a star on and off the screen. You’ll love the photos she put in the book. If you haven’t had a chance to read this great memoir, please add it to your list. Mello & June give this novel five outstanding stars. May she always shine!


Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

We all could use a little Jeannie Blink in our Lives!