‘I Dream of Jeannie’ Star Barbara Eden Once Explained Her Hard Work Ethic

by Allison Hambrick

I Dream of Jeannie actress Barbara Eden revealed how the best way to create a good work ethic is to have a healthy amount of confidence. Even at 90, Eden prefers hard work and keeping busy.

“Sometimes one is forced to slow down, but I’ll do what I do until I can’t,” the actress said. While she is most known for her role as Jeannie, Eden has had a long and fruitful career. She’s had roles in Harper Valley P.T.A., A Brand New Life, and Dallas, the latter of which reunited her with former costar Larry Hagman. Younger audiences might remember her recurring role as Aunt Irma on Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

Her secret to a long career? “Don’t be afraid.”

“People have to find their own way,” Eden explained. “Everyone’s life is different. Everyone’s beginnings are different. Learn to recognize in other people what you have inside yourself because that’s the one thing we all have. We’re all connected. Knowing that kind of got me over a lot of humps when I first came to town and started auditioning.”

Beyond overcoming her professional struggles, Eden knows a thing or two about how to survive personal tragedies.

I Dream of Jeannie Star Talks Overcoming Deaths of Children

Unfortunately, Eden has suffered what no mother ever should: the loss of a child. First, back in 1971, the I Dream of Jeannie actress had a miscarriage. At the time, she was eight months pregnant and already had her first son, Matthew.

“You just deal with everything every day,” Eden explained. “I went right back to work and lost a lot of weight. I’d come home and look at my little boy who’s adorable and think, ‘I’m so lucky. I have this sweet child. I have a husband who loves me. What’s wrong with me?’ And nobody told me what was wrong with me. At that time going to a psychiatrist, people didn’t do it. You just healed yourself.”

Then thirty years later, Eden suffered another terrible loss when Matthew died of an overdose in 2001.

“At first we didn’t recognize the behavior — the sleeping and the bouts of anger that would come up all of a sudden with this charming, darling boy,” said the I Dream of Jeannie star. “I didn’t know what to do. I don’t think there’s anything worse than to lose your child. As a parent, I had a lot of guilt and anger, and following his death I was always on the edge of tears. Even though he was 35, he was still my baby.”

Even through the tragedies, Eden thrived. The actress rebuilt her life, and though she carries her grief, Eden found happiness.

“I have dear friends,” Eden concluded. “I have a wonderful family, a very supportive husband. A dog who is adorable, but a brat! Yes, I’m very happy. I think life, everything, has to work itself out. There’s a reason for most things, and I can’t wish for it.”