It’s been over fifty years since the sitcom “I Dream Of Jeannie” went off the air, but it is still beloved by millions of fans to this day.
In a new interview this week, “I Dream Of Jeannie” star Barbara Eden, 89, opened up about the close bond that she shared with her late costar Larry Hagman, who died in 2012 at the age of 81.
“You can’t describe it. It’s either there or it isn’t,” Eden told Fox News. “And of course, with us, it was there. We had the same rhythm. We laughed at the same things. It was just there. We didn’t have to work at it.”
When asked what her favorite memory is from her time on set, Eden said, “Oh my goodness, I have so many. I have told this story many times, but it always makes me laugh. We had a lion as a guest one time. I had done a film at Fox Studios and I had worked with a lion, a young male lion. I learned from the trainer on set that you’re supposed to go over and make friends with the lion. Let them know you’re not a threat. They’re not at all an animal to be played with.”
“So when I knew we had a lion coming up, I was prepared,” she added. “I knew they always used a male lion, mainly because they’re lazy. They’re not aggressive like the females. They’re very happy as long as they’re fed and everything is nice, calm and sweet around them. And as long as you don’t run – you never run around a lion because it’s like a kitty cat. He wants to play with the ball in the yard, but a lion is 800 pounds or more and can really break your leg.”
“So I knew I had to go over there and let the lion know who I am,” Eden continued. “I went to Larry and said, ‘Larry, we have to go over and make friends with the lion.’ And he said, ‘I’m not making friends with any blankety-blank lion!’ I said, ‘Well, you better.’ He didn’t do it. I rehearsed with the lion. They put some meat nearby and the lion ate it. He looked around and was very, very happy. We did that several times.”
“Then they brought in Larry,” she concluded. “At first, the lion did a double-take and then he roared, just roared at him. It was the loudest roar I’ve ever heard. Larry ran like mad, but so did every single man on that set. They broke the camera. They knocked over the set, just running. Meanwhile, I was sitting on the sofa. I couldn’t move. The lion then came over, put his head on my lap and began to purr like this little machine.”