Fiftieth Anniversary of 'I Dream of Jeannie' Brings Nostalgia to Cocoa Beach
"I Dream of Jeannie" fans, your wishes may be granted.
With the 50th anniversary of the hit TV show "I Dream of Jeannie" approaching, the town of Cocoa Beach, where the show was set, is restoring its connection to the show with multiple new homages.
When the show ran from 1965 to 1970, Cocoa Beach became widely associated with "I Dream of Jeannie," even though the show was actually filmed in California. The story goes that astronaut Larry Hagman freed a 2,000-year-old genie from her magic lamp and she followed him to "Cocoa Beach, a mythical town in a mythical state."
“It’s funny! When I tell people where I was from, of course most don't know Satellite Beach,” said Jodi Childers Larsen, a former Brevard County resident. “I then mention Cocoa Beach and they will say ‘Oh, you mean the town in 'I Dream of Jeannie!’”
During the 1960s, in the heyday of the show, Barbara Eden, the actress who played Jeannie, came to visit Cocoa Beach and was honored with a parade. In a publicity stunt for Cocoa Beach, Eden married her co-star in an episode filmed at Patrick Air Force Base.
“My father was a CB Commissioner and was at the show filmed at the Patrick AFB Officer's Club at the staged wedding,” said Jay Pfeiffer, a former Cocoa Beach resident. “It was really cool for me as a child because she was my favorite star and I got to brag at school that my dad had met her.”
Many other Cocoa Beach residents happily reminisce back to these visits and the fame it brought to their small town.
“I was kissed by the Jeannie! Well, when I was about 5 years old,” said Joe Doyle, a Cocoa Beach resident, about Jeannie's 1969 visit to the Space Coast. “She saw me, picked me up and kissed me on the cheek and said to my mom that she wanted to take me to Hollywood and put me in movies. That’s proof that no matter what age, a boy knows a good thing when he sees it.”
However, as time passed and audiences grew older, the novelty of the TV show ceased to exist. Tourists did not visit solely to connect with the Jeannie any longer.
Bernard’s Surf, a restaurant famous from the astronauts who frequented it on the show, was sold and then shut down in 2000.
“Every now and then you would hear [on the show], 'Well let's make a reservation at the Surf,'" Bernard Fischer, the former owner of Bernard’s Surf, said in an interview with USA Today Magazine in 2005.
But with the 50th anniversary of "I Dream of Jeannie" approaching, references to the show are once again becoming a staple of the area.
In 2011, Ron Abeles opened up his frozen yogurt shop, I Dream of Yogurt. The store features vintage decorations from the sitcom and the women who work there all sport pink genie costumes.
“I messed around with several ideas before eventually deciding on an 'I Dream of Jeannie' theme as an homage to what it has done for my city,” Abeles said.
The store will be a sponsor for this year’s inaugural 'I Dream of Jeannie' Cocoa Beach Half Marathon. The race will take place on October 25th and the start and finish line will be on I Dream of Jeannie Lane.
“I think it’s fitting that the race is premiering so close to the 50th anniversary,” Abeles said.
Jeannie actress Barbara Eden will be coming to Cocoa Beach on race day to participate in the awards ceremony.