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by Barbara Eden with Wendy Leigh

Pub Date: April 5th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-307-88694-1
Publisher: Crown Archetype

Eden comes clean. Squeaky clean.

The author recounts her life story in a charmingly effervescent manner, but there just isn’t much there—an unremarkable girlhood, some familiar struggling-to-break-into-showbiz anecdotes, middling success as an entertainer (excluding her defining role as TV’s “Jeannie”) and family difficulties that, while sad, fail to add much heft to the skimpy narrative. It seems odd to pen a showbiz memoir about not sleeping with Elvis, Warren Beatty or Sammy Davis Jr., but Eden is eager to portray herself as a wholesome good girl repeatedly scandalized by the sexual and chemical habits familiar to anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of Hollywood. Her hit sitcom, I Dream of Jeannie, is a perplexingly enduring piece of pop culture, an inane fantasy distinguished only by its questionable sexual politics—a topic Eden dismisses out of hand, pleading the show’s status as simple entertainment. But what other reason is there for discussing it? Eden’s descriptions of costar Larry Hagman’s obnoxious on-set antics are amusing, but she shies away from exploring the profound psychological and emotional problems that must have generated such erratic and appalling behavior. There is authentic pain in her descriptions of an abusive marriage and the drug addiction and fatal overdose suffered by her son, but it’s difficult to muster sympathy in the face of the author’s overwhelming obliviousness in her response to these realities. Eden comes across as a nice person with a modicum of charm, but a more pointless memoir is difficult to imagine.

Irredeemably minor but inoffensive, like a half-remembered episode of a silly sitcom.