Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman never pursued a romantic relationship outside of their work on I Dream of Jeannie and their several other Hollywood hits, but the legendary actress still believes the two “were meant to be together.” Speaking exclusively with Closer about her beloved late costar, Barbara recalls sharing an undeniable bond with Larry.
“We just … we clicked. We had the same rhythm. We’ve got the same truth out of whatever we were doing,” the 90-year-old reveals in a new interview, insisting she “truly [thinks]” the two were a perfect match both on-screen and off.
“I loved him a lot,” the I Still Dream of Jeannie actress continues, adding the Dallas alum was such a talented performer to share the stage with. “Some actors you have to work at really liking them … and you put it in another box in your brain,” she says. “But with Larry, I never had to do that. He was there constantly.”
Reflecting on Larry’s battle with alcohol addiction, Barbara says the Knots Landing actor “was a very kind man when he was feeling well.” Even though he “was troubled,” Barbara never saw that side of the TV veteran. “Most people had — but never me,” she states.
Instead, the Golden Globe nominee has nothing but incredible memories with Larry. Looking back at the time the dynamic duo “first met” before they starred on I Dream of Jeannie, which ran from 1965 to 1970, Barbara remembers how she “scared [Larry] to death” when they were filming a scene.
“Of course, I threw myself into it … you know how Jeannie was,” the actress quips with Closer. “I threw my arms around his neck. We did the scene. He seemed to be just fine there. But later he told me, ‘You scared the bejesus out of me.’ I said, ‘Well, I was playing the part.’ It was funny.”
Tragically, Larry died nearly a decade ago in November 2012 at age 81. The Hollywood alum struggled with a handful of health issues throughout his life, including cirrhosis of the liver. Larry received a life-saving transplant in 1995, but he died almost 20 years later following complications of throat cancer.
Months before the seventh anniversary of Larry’s death, Barbara opened up to Closer about the “last time [she] saw” the Beware! The Blob actor. “I was in Australia and he was great. I’ll never forget that,” she gushed in August 2019. “He didn’t look sick, [so] it was a shock to me when he left us.”
Heartbroken over the death of her longtime friend and former costar, Barbara said she was so grateful to have “millions of memories” of Larry. And when it came to what she adored most about the sitcom star, Barbara pointed out his charisma and “talent” to create good TV. “I worked with him in a couple of movies and on Dallas too. He was just talented … I loved it,” she marveled. “He made it easy to work with him.”
While Barbara and Larry never became a couple, the Harper Valley PTA actress didn’t experience a shortage of love throughout her life. She wed her first husband, Michael Ansara, in 1958, and welcomed their only child, late son Matthew, in 1965. After going their separate ways in 1974, Barbara walked down the aisle with her second spouse, Charles Donald Fegert, in 1997. However, they also split in 1982, and she’s been married to her third husband, Jon Eicholtz, since 1991. Larry, on the other hand, was married to his spouse, Maj Axelsson, for nearly six decades until his death.