At the end of season five, in 1970, drooping ratings led to the show being canceled. But Barbara Eden was now a bona fide star in and outside Hollywood. Right after the show ended, she was on to her next projects. She filmed a couple of pilots for a pair of shows – the first was called “The Barbara Eden Show,” and the second was for a series called “The Toy Game.” Neither show was picked up by networks, and neither of the pilots was ever aired.
We’ve unearthed a little bit of information about both of these little-known projects. We can’t tell you why they weren’t picked up – certainly, Eden’s name alone would have given them a boost, but here’s what we know anyway.
Playing Her Own Mother
A number of actresses showed up on the series as Jeannie’s not-too-kind mother (who apparently doesn’t have a name other than “Jeannie’s Mother”). In a pair of episodes in season one she is played by first Florence Sundstrom (episode two), then by Lurene Tuttle (episode fourteen). After that, the show made the somewhat odd decision to have Barbara Eden play her own mother in the following appearances.
They used some heavy makeup, a gray wig, and a pair of glasses to turn her into an older version of herself in two episodes of season four — two and eighteen — but it wasn’t fooling anybody. At the very least, the two characters did actually have a resemblance, which is what usually happens between mother and daughter. You might not like it, but that’s how it works.
Getting the Husband in on the Magic
We’ve mentioned that Eden’s real husband, Michael Ansara, had a part as the “Blue Djinn,” whom Jeannie had scorned two thousand years ago. But that wasn’t the only time he showed up. He was also the legendary King of the Hawaiian islands, King Kamehameha in season three, and Major Biff Jellico in season five. We don’t get a lot of characters named Biff anymore, do we? Shame.
In that final appearance, he catches the eye of Jeannie II, and the two get a little friendly (because Jeannie II wants it to seem like Jeannie is being unfaithful), as much as the networks would allow at the time, anyway. Who better to have played the character you get intimate with than your real-life husband? He also got to direct an episode late in season five, “One Jeannie Beats Four of a Kind.”
A Show of Her Own Name
In “The Barbara Eden Show,” Eden plays a woman named Barbara Norris, who serves as the head writer for a hit soap opera. Her real life, however, is just as hectic as the storylines that she’s writing. She has to deal with the show’s mean star, who refuses to go along with the plots that she’s come up with, and there are plenty of other problems that come up while working on the show.
Meanwhile, her family at home, which includes her son and either her husband or boyfriend, sources are split, is just as difficult for her to handle. Other members of the cast include Moosie Drier, Joe Flynn, Roger Perry, Lyle Waggoner, Bob Harks, and Pat Morita (Mr. Miyagi from “The Karate Kid”).
Toys Are Serious Business
“The Toy Game” has even less information to give us. The only thing we can glean from the internet about the story is that Barbara Eden plays the CEO of a toy company, and she has to compete with a rival toy company and CEO, played by her old friend Larry Hagman. Once again, Moosie Drier is part of the cast, as are Joe Flynn and Lyle Waggoner, but this time, we also get Reta Shaw. That’s basically the only information that we can discover about it.
Both of these shows were comedies, and we’re still surprised that neither of them even got a chance with an initial season. Even though her on-screen husband was acting with her in the second show, it didn’t get picked up or even aired.