The series “How to Marry a Millionaire” lasted for two seasons, from 1957 to 1959, running for fifty-two episodes. The film it was based on featured none other than Marilyn Monroe in the number one role, the role that Eden took over once the series started. All things considered, however, the show wasn’t terribly successful – while the first season had some good ratings, the second season was short and sweet and ended after only thirteen episodes.
It was a good first step, and after that, she started to get a lot more roles both on the small screen and the big screen. But she still had a ways to go before she became a magical genie that would break new television ground. But before that, she decided to get married.
Screen Test, You Say?
You might be wondering what a screen test is. Well, let us fill you in. You might be familiar with a simple audition when an actor or actress goes in to read for a role, but a screen test is one of the next steps. This is after the candidates have been narrowed to a smaller list. At this point, the actors or actresses are set in front of a camera.
Maybe they read a bit from the script, maybe they do something they’ve performed, or maybe they work with other actors. It’s to make sure the person will look good on the screen. It's a regular part of the process, and Eden getting a chance to screen test for such a big role was evidence of good things.
Taking the Next Step
While Eden was likely discouraged at not landing the role in a big film, she still got an acting contract – that’s a great result from a screen test. Just a few short months after she inked the paper, she was given the starring role in the television series “How to Marry a Millionaire,” which was based on the 1953 film of the same name.
Starring Eden and a gaggle of other gals, the show was one of the first sitcoms based on a feature film, following the adventures of a bunch of twenty-something women who are out to marry into money, as the title suggests. They rent a pricey penthouse apartment in order to put themselves in the right places to marry, though they are constantly beset with problems paying rent.
A Big Role in Real Life
Her professional life was on the rise, but we know that you’re really excited to hear about her personal life – and we have the goods for you. She’d been in a couple of series and had gotten some time on the silver screen, and that meant she was getting plenty of attention from men. One of them she deemed good enough, and his name was Michael Ansara.
He was an actor from Syria who’s best known for appearing in “Broken Arrow,” a series running from 1956 to 1958. These two stars got married in 1958, before Eden had made that next step in stardom and long before she was a household name. Ansara often played Native American characters, and he was also Commander Kang in several parts of the “Star Trek” universe.
Leading Lady of the Movies
She was a new wife, she’d been the lead of a series, and she was a well-known performer, so what was next? A couple of leading roles in movies, that’s what! She got her first starring role in the musical comedy “A Private’s Affair” in 1959. In the film, a pair of men named Luigi and Jerry join the army, and then Jerry finds himself in an accidental marriage. Not to Eden; she was another character.
The movie was a success, but only just barely, making one and a half million against a budget of one-point-two million. Barbara Eden was actually a little lucky to get this role – it was meant to star Sheree North, but North had to drop out when she became pregnant.