Time in a Bottle

Even now I am humming the themes from The Patty Duke Show and I Dream of Jeannie, and I was called upon to sing the former within the last week, though the circumstances are blurry as to just why.

All this is preamble to the sad news that Sidney Sheldon has died. The two Sheldon's–Sidney and Leonard–had a serious impact on the boomer generation and 1960's TV. Between them they accounted for Jeannie and Patty Duke and Dick Van Dyke and Andy Griffith and quite a few others.

I didn't read Sheldon Leonard's potboilers, though I'm sure I saw more than one TV adaption. I certainly watched at lot of Sheldon Leaonard. For men–at the time boys–of a certain age, Jeannie was must-see TV, though not must-see belly button TV, darn it.

Television of that era did not allow the belly button to be shown, or the double bed to be occupied for that matter, so Barbara Eden was required to wear harem pants pulled up as high as Jerry Stiller's polyester slacks on Seinfeld.

But I am about to digress.

I went to a Washington dinner maybe 20 years ago or so for the launch of a coffee table book about TV where several aging stars, some more gracefully than others, were trotted out to wow the Beltway crowd.

Frank Gorshin entertained, though he was heckeled mercilessly by a pitifully drunk guy in a penguin suit, raising the discomfort level tremendously. But I digress from my digression.

Barbara Eden was there too. I was coming back from the bathroom at the same time–different bathrooms–as she was, and held the door for her. I said hello, then pointed out I had explained to my wife, also in attendance, that she would see the first person I ever wanted to marry. She smiled and I melted.

That was the impact of weekly TV visits from Barbara, and Marlo Thomas, and Whitney Blake (look her up), and Gloria Henry and, well, a veritable host of others.

Readers of this space will know that I wax nostalgic at the unraveling of each thread in the TV fabric of my life, particularly since Sidney Sheldon apparently wrote almost every episode of the Duke sitcom and I'm sure I saw all of them more than once thanks to the wonders of syndication.

So it is that I wax about Sheldon, whose Jeannie I definitely dreamed of.