‘I Dream of Jeannie’: Barbara Eden Reveals Why Larry Hagman ‘Relieved Himself All Over’ the Set
I Dream of Jeannie starred Barbara Eden as the 2000-year-old blonde genie (named Jeannie, of course) who gets rescued from her bottle by Major Tony Nelson, played by Larry Hagman. The two gained popularity with viewers while on the sitcom, yet Hagman was never happy with the scripts or how his character was developed.
Eden gave some details on Hagman’s methods of venting his frustrations, which often went way out of bounds.
Larry Hagman strived for fame
Growing up as the son of Broadway star Mary Martin, Hagman had his eyes set on stardom for himself. Executive producer and show creator Sidney Sheldon saw Hagman’s fervent quest for fame as creating a tumultuous work environment on the set of I Dream of Jeannie.
“He wanted to be the star and he wanted it now,” Sheldon wrote in his book The Other Side of Me. “Larry wanted to show the world that he could be as successful as his mother. The result was that he put himself and everyone else under tremendous pressure.”
In Eden’s 2012 memoir Jeannie Out of the Bottle, she noted Hagman’s drive for stardom would prompt explosive behavior from the actor, where working with him “sometimes felt like I was walking on hot coals.” Yet she had a fondness and respect for her co-star.
“I want to make it crystal clear that I think Larry Hagman is a terrific actor,” she wrote. “I’d work with him again any day, not just because of his talent but because he is a warm and kind human being.”
‘I Dream of Jeannie’ star skipped the bathroom
During the show’s five seasons, Hagman often complained to Sheldon about scripts and even succumbed to temper tantrums. Eden revealed there was another factor contributing to Hagman’s outbursts.
“Larry himself has made no secret about the fact that he was taking drugs and drinking too much through many of the I Dream of Jeannie years,” Eden shared, adding, “and that he has regrets about how that impacted him.”
Eden explained that Sheldon even recruited a therapist to be on set to help Hagman with his issues, but to no avail. She described one particular incident where the actor expressed his vehemence in a shocking manner.
“There is one episode that I don’t think would actually make it onto the air even today,” Eden recalled. “The time when Larry, in frustration and anger at what he saw as the show’s shortcomings and the second-string status of his character, Major Tony Nelson relieved himself all over the I Dream of Jeannie set.”
Hagman used another way to express himself…
Surprisingly, Hagman’s outrageous behavior behind the camera didn’t get him fired. Eden remembered another incident where Hagman chose another tangible way to show producers how he really felt about the I Dream of Jeannie storylines.
“On one unforgettable occasion, when Larry didn’t like a particular script, his answer was to throw up all over the set,” Eden said. “Nerves? Method acting? I didn’t stick around long enough to find out, but took refuge in the sanctuary of my dressing room instead.”
I Dream of Jeannie was cancelled after its fifth season, airing its last episode in May 1970. Despite the conflict Hagman caused behind the scenes, Eden still holds a special place in her heart for the actor.
“To this day I love and respect Larry,” she wrote, “both as an actor and as a human being.”