Was Barbara Eden Of 'I Dream Of Jeannie' The Queen Of '60s Sitcom Sirens?
Midriff bared and peppy as the day is long, Barbara Eden on I Dream Of Jeannie seemed out of place on TV during the show's run, which lasted from 1965-70. Television networks have had notoriously conservative self-imposed standards -- how do we get Barbara Eden as Jeannie the genie, wearing (essentially) a bikini top in every episode?
Well, there were rules -- network brass actually had meetings and guidelines regarding Barbara Eden's physique, specifically how much could be shown. The midriff-baring was deemed acceptable as long as certain other nods to modesty were in place. Rule #1 was no belly button! You will never see Jeannie's navel on I Dream Of Jeannie, no matter how hard you squint at your screen. And the other practice to be observed: if you were giving the audience cleavage and midsection, you had to cover the legs. Jeannie's billowing harem pants are somewhat appropriate to the role, but they're also there so that she wouldn't be too sexy.
When Jeannie was in "street clothes" of course, the midriff was covered up so she was allowed to wear very short miniskirts. And wear them she did.
Well, someone thought that system worked. Audiences certainly didn't feel they were being deprived of Barbara Eden's charms, so everybody wins. In the '60s, television comedies were packed with beauties who continue to inspire passionate fandom to this day -- we're talking Elizabeth Montgomery (Samantha on Bewitched), Donna Douglas (Elly May on Beverly Hillbillies), Tina Louise (Ginger on Gilligan's Island), Dawn Wells (Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island), and many more. But viewer polls tend to crown Barbara Eden's Jeannie the sexiest TV sitcom babe of the decade.
And let's not forget that Barbara Eden was a gifted comedic actress. So, she's aesthetically pleasing, scantily clad, funny as heck, and gifted with supernatural powers -- can you really argue against her?