She crossed her arms and blinked, and suddenly Barbara Eden had NASA in a tizzy, her master a fumbling mess, and ’60s TV audiences rolling. Touched off by Nick at Nite’s reruns, the I Dream of Jeannie revival accelerates on Sept. 24, when Columbia TriStar releases six episodes on three tapes as part of its Screen Gems collection. We asked America’s favorite bottled blond, now 62, to grant us some answers.
Why is Jeannie still popular?
It’s timeless. A genie is always in a costume, and the guys in the show are in uniform, so it doesn’t become dated.
Was there any competition with Samantha from Bewitched?
No, never. She was a witch. A witch is human. Jeannie wasn’t a woman, she was a freak.
Was it demeaning for Jeannie to call Major Nelson (Larry Hagman) ”Master”?
Oh, that was like calling him Bob. ”Master” didn’t mean she was a slave. ”Master” was the master because he got the bottle.
Who should play Jeannie in the movie version?
Jeannie is really a classical part — it’s a little like doing [laughs] Shakespeare. Contractions were not in her language. It was always ”No, I will not do that, Master.” She spoke cleanly and perfectly. You have to find a girl who can do that, who isn’t too much of a Valley Girl, you know?
Did Jeannie ever have the hots for Major Healy (Bill Daily)?
Never, never, never. She only had one man in her life.
The Macarena or the hustle?
Oooh, the Macarena! It’s simple, and I love Latin beats.
A sense of humor or washboard abs?
Can’t you have both? I work like hell on my abs, and I hope I do it with a sense of humor. My son’s a personal trainer, and if he didn’t have a sense of humor I’d kill him.
Were you ticked off when MC Hammer stole your pants?
No. Everyone looks different in the same clothes.
Jeannie was never allowed to show her navel, right?
It always peeked out a little bit. No one even noticed it until NBC said no. We had a list of rules. Another was that the bottle couldn’t be in the bedroom.
What do you think of navel piercing?
If it gives you kicks, that’s fine. I would never do it. Besides being terribly unsanitary, what if you got hooked on something? You’d rip your tummy open.