Everything You Need to Know About ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ Star Barbara Eden’s Late Son, Matthew Ansara

For actress Barbara Eden, the news that her television pilot, I Dream of Jeannie (costarring Larry Hagman), would be going to series in the fall of 1965 arrived simultaneously with her doctor’s announcement that, after seven years of trying, she and husband Michael Ansara were going to have a baby — to be named Matthew Michael Ansara. While this was joyous news, as far as she was concerned the first thing she had to do was let Jeannie creator Sidney Sheldon know so that he would be able to replace her without jeopardizing what would become a Classic TV show.

Sidney’s response surprised her, as he offered congratulations and told her that she would be able to remain with the series — not that she could understand how. In her autobiography Jeannie Out of the Bottle, she writes, “Sidney came up with an almost foolproof technique for disguising my pregnancy by draping me with a multitude of veils and instructing that I be shot only from the waist up, or from a distance. Consequently, I worked on I Dream of Jeannie right up until the eighth month of my pregnancy and filmed eleven episodes of the show during that time.”

Barbara Eden and Son Matthew Ansara
AP/Shutterstock

On August 29, 1965 — only a month before I Dream of Jeannie premiered — Barbara and Michael (also an actor, known at the time for the series Broken Arrow) welcomed their son, Matthew Michael Ansara, to the world. “We called him our lucky-charm baby,” Barbara writes. “We had a child at last and we loved him more than words could say. Our joy was boundless, and our hopes that he would live a healthy and happy life were unlimited. Matthew meant everything to both of us, and always would.”

Tragically, as hopeful as Barbara and Michael were, life would not be easy for Matthew.

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