In 1965, ABC scored a ratings winner with the sitcom "Bewitched," the story of a sassy witch, Samantha Stephens, married to a mortal husband, Darren. Looking to cash in on that show's success, competitor NBC took a chance on producer Sidney Sheldon's idea: "I Dream Of Jeannie."
"Jeannie" centered on a hottie of a 2,000-year old genie, found on a beach by stranded astronaut Major Tony Nelson, and their life in their Florida home.
While never a ratings blockbuster during it's five-year run from 1965 to 1970, "I Dream Of Jeannie" made household names of stars Barbara Eden, Larry Hagman and Bill Daily and 50 years after making it's debut, "Jeannie" continues to be a favorite.
Series star Eden was 34 when cast as Jeannie. Eden already had a long list of credits to her name working with the likes of Tony Randall, Paul Newman and Elvis Presley. She was even featured in an original episode of "I Love Lucy."
But it's the role of Jeannie that the now 84-year-old television icon will always be best remembered for thanks to eternal re-runs that have made it a favorite with all age groups.
"I am pleasantly surprised by the series longevity," admitted Eden to HNGN. "The age groups approaching me about the series have become so varied - young and old - it's so varied."
According to Eden, the most asked question she gets is, "How is your belly button?" That was also a major question in 1965. Censorship at the time prevented Eden from revealing too much skin. After all, the subtext of the show - idea of astronaut bachelor having at his disposal a naïve, scantily clad bombshell who is all too eager to please her "master" - was too much for some viewers to handle.
Producers did their best to keep the show family friendly and the wardrobe department even covered that scandalous navel with the waistband of her harem pants. Years later, there was talk of a "navel reveal" happening on the comedy show "Laugh In" - until censors once again intervened.
"It caused a big stir at NBC," Eden recalls. "Apparently there were never so many suits around a table talking about someone's bellybutton, all because of a proposed appearance on 'Laugh In'? They didn't let me do it."
The always-approachable Eden admits, "People will ask me to blink or grant them a wish, and they often ask about the bottle too."
And what did become of the Jennine's bottle - the infamous Jim Beam decanter? (Yes, that's what it started out as before a Hollywood makeover.)
According to Eden, it's safe and sound in a safety deposit box, locked in bank vault. She was lucky enough to score the last one used on the series as production shut down. "Everyone was taking things from the set and a wardrobe woman said, 'you should have it.' I'm so grateful to her."
Unfortunately, Jeannie's original costume is long gone after the studio costume department loaned it out for Halloween parties. Despite numerous copies being made, according to Eden, "none survived."
Eden does have an original hat from the series and a replica costume that was made for a 1999 Lexis commercial where she reprised her role.
"I made the mistake of wearing it just a year ago," she admits with a laugh.
Sadly, Eden's "Jeannie" co-star Larry Hagman (who went on to 80's success as J.R. Ewing on "Dallas") passed away in 2012 at the age of 81, due to complications from a battle with cancer - something Eden says came as a shock.
The two remained close and had just been in Australia together prior to his passing. "It wasn't expected and he'd kind of beaten it," she says.
Bill Daily, who played Tony's best friend Major Roger Healey, currently lives a quiet life in New Mexico.
Today, the miraculously ageless actress continues to work steadily. She appears in plays all over the country and thrills fans at autograph shows and conventions all over the world.
She has no plans of retiring anytime soon.
"While the industry might, I don't," she jokes. And don't hold out for that Dancing With The Stars appearance that fans keep asking her to do - it's not happening anytime soon.
"I like to watch it," Eden said. "In the beginning, they took non-dancers and you could watch the progress. Now everyone seems really young and has training. I did ballroom at the Hollywood Palace and I can do it, but I don't think it's my time to do it now."
Are you "Still Dreaming of Jeannie?" Watch the "I Dream of Jeannie" marathon on Antenna TV starting on Saturday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. EDT with one of Eden's favorite episodes, "Lady in the Bottle."