Few things have made me feel my age as keenly as the announcement that Tribune's Antenna TV is airing a September marathon to mark the 50th anniversary of I Dream of Jeannie, the sitcom that, I guess, must indeed have debuted 50 years ago though I remember sitting in front of the old black and white set waiting for that first episode.
Barbara Eden (Jeannie) will be hosting the marathon, which airs Sept. 19 and 20.
I saw the first episode of Jeannie, as I did many of the now-iconic Boomer sitcom staples from the 1960's, from the memorable Hogan’s Heroes and Get Smart to the forgettable O.K. Crackerby and Captain Nice. And thanks to independent stations like WTTG TV in Washington and their after-school syndicated lineups, I saw many, many episodes of 1950's TV staples as well.
I went to the TV Land (remember TV Land) kick-off party in Hollywood years ago where there were more sitcom faces from my past than in a week of syndicated afternoon TV, from Jimmy Olson (Jack Larsen) at the salad bar to Ellie May (Donna Douglas) walking around with her critters in tow, to a wonderful reunion moment between Dick Van Dyke and Morey Amsterdam.
But I digress.
Every elementary schoolboy dreamed of Jeannie, for obvious reasons, and I had the pleasure of meeting her thanks to this job.
It was at a book party for a TV retrospective in Washington early in my career. Eden was among the guests of honor. I don't know how old she was, but she was still stunning (and is still stunning). I attended with my wife, and had told her before the event that she would see the first person I ever wanted to marry.
At some point during the evening, Eden and I were both returning to the ballroom at the same time (no I did not engineer it, but would have if needed). I held the door for her and relayed that she had been my first TV love. She smiled with those beautiful (green?) eyes--my knees weakened, my head swam, I was back in elementary school ready to go down on one skinned knee and offer her my plastic, straight-out-of-the-cereal box, lenticular ring of Superman flying...She said something nice (kind?), and the moment passed. But we had had “a moment” and, just for a second I was flying right along with Superman.
Perhaps TV should not have been as big a part of my childhood as it was. Don't get me wrong, I played tag and capture the flag and football and basketball in the backyard and schoolyard until it was too dark to see. I ran with my dog and kicked balls and cans and all of that.
But I also had some great times with Colonel Klink and Rob Petrie and the Tiger of the Pacific, Quinton McHale.
And, yes, I still dream of Jeannie.