Looking back on the life of Barbara Eden, and the tragic story of her only son who died at only 35

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On August 23, Barbara Eden, the person who inspired the dream of genies, turns 92. The nonagenarian looks wonderful!

Since she originally debuted on I Dream of Jeannie nearly 60 years ago, Eden has inspired people to become shameless bottle shiners in search of their own wish-fulfilling blonde.

But in real life, she was unable to save her son, who passed away in 2001 from a drug overdose, despite her ability to strike a pose and conjure up miracles on camera.

Although she hasn’t seen on television in her infamous harem costume in a while, she’s still going strong and keeping active.

However, Barbara’s life hasn’t always been simple.

In 1931, Barbara Eden was born in Tucson, Arizona, in the US. She relocated to San Francisco after her parents got divorced, where she started her singing studies at the Conservatory of Music.

As a youngster in Golden Gate City, Barbara performed in local bands in neighborhood nightclubs. But eventually, she also made the decision to pursue acting.

“My mother said, ‘Barbara, you don’t sound like you mean a word you’re singing. I think you should study acting, too,’” Eden recalled.

She then relocated to Los Angeles and started performing on some of the top shows of the 1950s after deciding that acting was a good fit for her.

When Matthew was nine, his parents ended their 15-year marriage, a strike that Eden, who married two more times, says sent her son on the wrong path, towards drugs.

The Harper Valley PTA star explained that she first noticed Matthew was in trouble in 1984, when at 19, he moved in with his father after she remarried. Returning after she divorced a second time, Eden said he was sleeping a lot and lied about being enrolled in college.

“Matthew never told Mike and me that he was using heroin—he didn’t want to hurt us. But we figured it out because he had been acting sluggish, losing weight, staying out all night. I insisted that he enter a rehab center, and I let him come back home when he came out a month later.”

The star of The Stepford Children continued, “But he started using again. The professionals told us that if your child is using drugs, he has become the drug: He is no longer your child, and he no longer has a home with you. So, I locked him out when he was 20, which was the hardest thing I ever had to do.”

Matthew, who started using drugs when he was only 10, spent the next 12 years in and out of rehab, his parents connecting to help him through.

“When he visited us, sometimes he’d laugh and say, ‘Here I am, better lock up everything.’ But when he was sober, he’d tell us, ‘I’m so sorry. I love you more than anyone in the world,’” Eden said of her son, who often stole their property when he visited.

During a brief remission when he was 27, Matthew married and studied creative writing at UCLA, but “the cycle began again,” and his wife left.

Recalling when things turned for the worse, Eden said she confronted her son, and “he got angry, threw things and stomped out.” Finding Matthew after a months-long search, Eden learned he’d spent most of the time living on the streets.

“One day, soon after they separated, he called me, sounding half dead, and said, ‘Mom, I’m sick.’ Mike’s wife and another friend drove with me to a bad part of Venice, Calif., and we found him in his apartment, unconscious from an overdose.” Describing his living conditions as “filthy,” Eden continued. “He weighed 200 lbs., but we three women got him up and to the car and took him to the hospital, which saved his life.”

At 29 he was diagnosed with clinical depression and was on medication, that didn’t help.

When he was 31, Matthew was clean again and following the path of his parents, he had a starring role in the 2001 film To Protect and Serve, and a supporting role in Con Games, that was released posthumously the same year.

In September that year, he had plans to wed a “wonderful girl.”

“One day he told me, ‘Life is great, Mom. I can’t believe I spent so many years not being awake to how green the trees are.’” Eden said.

Barbara Eden son cause of death

Soon after that conversation, on June 26 at 3 a.m. Eden was jolted from her sleep when a phone call came through about her son,

Six hours before the call, police found 35-year-old Matthew, an amateur bodybuilder, slumped over the steering wheel of his truck, where cops also pulled vials of anabolic steroids that he used to bulk up for competitions.

Autopsy results showed that Matthew’s cause of death was accidental drug overdose.

“Then he was dead. He had shot up with a dose of unusually pure heroin, and it was too much for his heart,” Eden said. “Even when he was getting in shape, he did it like an addict—obsessively. He was unable to do anything in moderation.”

Mourning the death of her only child, the author and singer, married to Jon Eicholtz since 1991, is still looking for answers.

“Matthew took it horribly. He wanted his mommy and daddy to stay together. If I had to do it over, I would have waited until he was older. But then I remind myself that so many kids from divorced homes don’t become addicts.” She continued, “He won a lot of battles. But he lost his personal war.”

The senior Ansara, who at 91 died in 2013 from complications related to Alzheimer’s, is buried next to his son at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

As for Eden, who retired Jeannie’s pink harem suit, she can be seen on TV shows like Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition and the 2019 film My Adventures with Santa, where she plays Mrs. Claus. Her last stage production was 2019’s Love Letters.

First, we’d like to wish the beautiful Barbara Eden a very happy birthday!