Barbara Eden, star of ‘I Dream of Jeannie,’ reflects on son Matthew Ansara’s death: ‘I didn’t know what to do’


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Matthew Ansara, the only child of actress Barbara Eden and actor Michael Ansara, died in 2001 at the age of 35.

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Barbara Eden has opened up about losing her beloved son 20 years ago.

Matthew Ansara, the only child of actress and fellow actor Michael Ansara, died in 2001 at the age of 35. The cause of death was accidental drug overdose.


“When Matthew was clean and calm, he was such a beautiful person inside and out,” the “I Dream of Jenny” star shared in this week’s issue people magazine.

“The drugs are incomprehensible,” she said. “It’s very disappointing.”

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According to the outlet, Eden and her first husband tried for nearly seven years to conceive a child.

‘I Dream of Jenny’ Star Barbara Eden Reflects on Their 30 Years of Marriage: ‘You Have to Like Each Other So Much’

“The same day that ‘I Dream of Jenny’ was sold, the doctor told me I was pregnant,” said Eden. “I was thrilled. I was so happy, but I knew they had to replace me.”

But in the eyes of the show’s creator Sidney Sheldon, no one could replace Eden in the sitcom. “I Dream of Jenny” premiered in 1965, and Eden filmed the first 13 episodes while she was pregnant with Ansara. The series, which told the comical story of an American astronaut [Larry Hagman] who stumbles upon a bottle containing a genie [Eden], aired until 1970.

“I don’t know if being a mom changed me, but it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done,” Eden told the outlet. “It’s a miracle of being a child and this little creation. When I think about it, I go to my head. It’s the sweetest thing in my life.”

But life was not easy for Ansara. The outlet revealed that for 14 years, the actor and fitness trainer was in and out of rehab to fight his addiction.

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Eden admitted, “At first, we didn’t recognize the behavior—the sleepiness and rage that would suddenly accompany this charming, lovable boy.” “I was terrified to death. I didn’t know what to do. He was too young to know he needed rehab or help. It’s a wonder he lived to be 35.”

Ansara died on June 25, 2001. At the time of his death, it was reported that he was planning to marry on 1 September of the same year and that Eden was busy planning the wedding.

“I don’t think there’s anything worse than losing your child,” reflected Eden. “As a parent, I had a lot of guilt and anger, and after his death, I was always on the edge of tears. Even though he was 35, he was still my child.”

“I started talking with parents who were going through the same thing,” she continued. “I think parents should know that being strict with your child isn’t a bad thing. If you know what’s going on, you have a chance to help. Ultimately it’s up to them, But there is hope.”

Actresses Barbara Eden and John Echoltz attend the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce event honoring actress Barbara Eden with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on April 26, 2012 in Hollywood, California.

While the pain of losing her child will never subside, Eden has found joy in other ways. She has been happily married to 83-year-old real estate developer John Echoltz for 30 years. Eden also said that he has a supportive group of “dear friends” who are always with him.

Eden is currently preparing for a show, which she will do with Edward Twins in 2022.

“I think I enjoy my job,” Eden told Granthshala News in August. “I really enjoy what I do and I love it… For me, it’s business as usual, which I love.”

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