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Interview With Barbara Eden

Aired July 30, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, a Barbara Eden exclusive. It's been a year since her only child died of a heroin overdose. A year later, she talks about her grief, how she gets through it and what she's doing to make sure no one has to go through the same thing she has. Barbara Eden, the agonizing death of a child and life going on, tonight on LARRY KING LIVE.

We welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE Barbara Eden. She was last with us on January 1 of this year, New Year's Day.

Her son's death was a year on June 25. He was found dead of an accidental drug overdose. There you see a picture of Barbara and her wonderfully handsome son. We're going to talk about that tonight and also talk about going on from that. And we'll be taking your phone calls. So, if you want to call in early and get in early, stack them up and we'll go to quite a few calls for Barbara Eden tonight, of course, the great star of "I Dream of Jeannie."

She went back to New York for NBC's 75th anniversary. Was that a hoot?

BARBARA EDEN, SON DIED OF OVERDOSE LAST YEAR: It was wonderful. It was just great seeing everyone that I hadn't seen in years and years and years.

KING: Good idea. They brought them all back.

EDEN: They did. And we had such a -- it was a great party, too.

KING: How long was Jeannie on?

EDEN: Five years.

KING: That's all? We think of it as forever.

EDEN: Well, I guess it's never been off the air, that's the thing.

KING: That's right. And more little girls still love it everywhere, right?

EDEN: Yes, yes.

KING: OK, what -- was the anniversary tough? Was June 25 hard? EDEN: Oh, yes, yes. It was awful.

KING: A year.

EDEN: Yes. But, you know, it's a day. It's just a day. You know, I miss him every day.

KING: Does time go by faster, slower, same?

EDEN: No. No. Time just goes by. I think -- I really think it does a disservice to Matthew to sit and brood about him. I think about him all the time. And I miss him deeply. But I think life is a gift. And we're alive. And because I'm alive, I should do something with this life that's productive.

KING: We're going to get to what you're doing. But you're able to laugh, you're able to enjoy life's things.

EDEN: Oh, yes.

KING: Because one wonders how parents -- we've had so many stories today of children dying, it is getting to be like an epidemic. And your, of course, he was -- Matthew was how old?

EDEN: He was 35.

KING: But when you see -- you don't watch then stories about the death of other children?

EDEN: No, I don't. I don't. It's difficult for me to see the parents. I'll read about it in the newspaper or I'll hear about it on the news or CNN, but I can't watch the parents being interviewed or -- it's too hurtful.

KING: So when the mother was on the other night of the little girl...

EDEN: Can't watch it.

KING: Too many pain. So we all wonder as parents, and you must have wondered before it happened to Matthew, how a parent goes on. Are there...

EDEN: Well, I guess you do it because you have to. But you also do because I think it's really our duty. I think -- I think to cease being is disrespectful to the one you've lost.

KING: You mean, crawl into a shell, go hide somewhere?

EDEN: Yes, yes. It's disrespectful to this wonderful, vibrant life that was on earth and is no longer here. But you can't -- you're not going to do him any good and certainly the people around you any good if you dig a hole and hide. I think it's important for our families, for the people around us to continue on. I don't think it's easy for anyone. And certainly, when it's your child, you'll never not hurt. KING: How has his father dealt with it?

EDEN: I don't -- I haven't talked to Michael.

KING: You're divorced.

EDEN: Yes, yes. I haven't talked to him. I assume that he's putting one foot in front of the other one just like I am.

KING: How well is your husband, Matthew's step-father, dealt with it?

EDEN: He's been an oak. I'm so lucky to have him. He's really -- he's a wonderful, beautiful man. And...

KING: Been important in this picture, huh?

EDEN: Yes, yes. And he was -- he loved Matthew. And...

KING: Let's discuss a little, for those who don't know, about Matthew and how he got into this. When you were here last time, you were telling us for a long time you didn't know.

EDEN: No, I didn't know.

KING: He was using and you had no idea.

EDEN: Didn't have a clue.

KING: A mother can be fooled.

EDEN: Oh, yes, indeed. His father didn't have a clue. It -- and it was frightening -- in retrospect it was very frightening to me once I found out that this could happen and I didn't know about it. And I -- that's one of the things that I am trying to do is to alert parents and -- is how do we protect our children?

You know, we start out by protecting our children by reading Dr. Spock. We make sure they have their vitamins. We make sure they go to the right nursery school, the right preschool, the right education, high school. We watch their friends. We know where they are. They know what time they're getting home. But there are cracks in there. It still can happen. And I think parents have to be educated about drugs more so than about a lot of other things.

KING: In retrospect, should you have noticed something? Do you think back -- when you first learned that he -- did you start to say, I should have known?

EDEN: No. There was no way I could have known because I didn't know about drugs. I didn't understand...

KING: Didn't learn, didn't read about it?

EDEN: I didn't understand. I didn't have anyone around me who used drugs. Liquor, yes. And when I saw him, I thought, I thought that he was drinking and it was a 19-year-old thing and boys do that, you know? It didn't -- it never occurred to me that he was very, very sick.

KING: How did you find out?

EDEN: Well, the first time -- how in the world did I find out? I guess he got very, very angry and started throwing things around the house.

KING: He was how old?

EDEN: And he was 19.

KING: And you hadn't seen anything like that before?

EDEN: Never. I had never seen that kind of behavior. He was a beautiful, beautiful guy.

KING: Gentle.

EDEN: Gentle. They called him the gentle giant, his friends.

KING: But he was -- did you think it was liquor when he started to throw things?

EDEN: No, I didn't know what that was. It scared the dickens out of me.

KING: So how did you find out? How did you learn, my son...

EDEN: Well, I had friends that were in the program and that talked to me about it.

KING: They came to you?

EDEN: Yes, yes.

KING: And you were shocked?

EDEN: Yes. And they said this is a problem. You have a problem here. And I talked to his father. And we started out with the tough love. We didn't let him in the house, you know. But it was too late. You know, it's like closing the barn door after the cows are out. You should start when they're very, very young.

KING: Was heroin -- I want to get to that. Was it heroin?

EDEN: Well, I don't know what it was then. I know at the end it was heroin. I have no idea. These kids used cocktails of things, you know.

KING: Did he go to a rehab center?

EDEN: Yes, many.

KING: What's that like? They go in, they come out, they get off it, they go back, living with that.

EDEN: Well, it's a roller coaster. And you always have hope. The thing about going into a rehab or trying to stay sober is that the patient has to want it. And quite often, when they're 19, 20, 25, they're not going in because they want it. They're going in because their parents are saying they have to go or they won't have a home, you know?

KING: Or legal authorities.

EDEN: Yes, exactly. When they're younger, you can put them in rehab and make them stay there, and they have hope of getting well.

KING: Over 21, they can't.

EDEN: You can't. Now, when he was -- by the time he was 33, 32, he really wanted to be sober.

KING: I want to get to that. Barbara Eden is our guest. Wonderful actress, wonderful lady. Your calls later. Don't go away.


KING: Back with Barbara Eden. Her son has been gone over a year. But in her heart, never gone, of course.

When you first confronted him, did he deny?

EDEN: Yes, he did. As a matter of fact, in the first rehab, he agreed to go, but he said there was nothing wrong with him. And his dad and I took him down. And he got very angry with the men at the rehab for telling his father and I exactly what he was taking. He really was very upset. He said, they don't need to know that. Don't hurt their feelings, is what Matthew said. And they said to him, what do you think you're doing, you know, with this?

KING: Did it start with marijuana and then cocaine?

EDEN: I really don't know.

KING: To this day, you don't know?

EDEN: I don't know. To this day, I don't know. And you know something, I don't care because substance abuse is substance abuse. It doesn't matter what it is. It's bad.

KING: Did you ever sit down and have a long talk with him about it, about why, about what he was doing with his life?

EDEN: Oh, sure. We had lots and lots of discussions about -- and he wanted to be sober.

KING: Do you think he was allergic to this?

EDEN: Oh, I think so. I've been told that by -- they're studying it, you know. KING: Why do some people become addicts and others can take it and not?

EDEN: That's right. Why can some people have one drink and others have to have the whole bottle?

KING: We still don't know the answer.

EDEN: The problem with drugs is that they start with the -- I guess they call it -- the entryway is marijuana. They start with marijuana, with the smaller things first, if there is such a thing as a smaller thing. And then by the time you get up to heroin, then you are addicted. I mean, anyone can be addicted to heroin.

KING: What kind of work did Matthew do?

EDEN: He was an actor. In fact, he did very, very good work. The last -- he did a movie that's coming out.

KING: Oh, really?

EDEN: And I'm not sure what it's -- it's about prisons. Of course, he used to shave his head. I hated it when he did that.

KING: Did he ever get jailed because of his addiction?

EDEN: Once, DUI, drinking under the influence -- I mean, driving under the influence.

KING: And you had to go down?

EDEN: Yes, yes. I did.

KING: OK. By the way, wasn't he planning to get married?

EDEN: Yes. Yes. He was. He was going to get married this year to a lovely, lovely girl. I love her a lot.

KING: Do you hear from her?

EDEN: I haven't been able to this year. I think it's very painful for both of us. But I certainly am not going to lose touch with her.

KING: How long had he been sober before he went back on until ultimately, you know, died from it? Had he been off it a while?

EDEN: I think so. You never know, you see. You don't know.

KING: They lie a lot. I don't mean that (UNINTELLIGIBLE). They lie.

EDEN: Of course they do. Of course they do. Yes, they do, to protect this drug, this thing, this habit they have. Lianna (ph) didn't think he was using. She was shocked.

KING: His girlfriend.

EDEN: Yes. And they had an apartment together. So, as far as I know, he'd been clean and sober for a year.

KING: And he died in his car?

EDEN: Mm-hmm.

KING: And they determined it was an overdose?

EDEN: Yes.

KING: Was he parked?

EDEN: He parked. He went in to get some water or something to drink. This is what the police told me.

KING: Was this at his house?

EDEN: No. He had been -- I don't know where he'd been. He had a friend who had AIDS that he visited. I don't know if that's who he saw that night. But he parked the car, walked in because they had it on the monitor, you know, at the station. And got the drink, came back into the car and expired. And they said...

KING: Sitting in the car.

EDEN: Yes. It was heart failure. He just -- shwoo.

KING: How did they inform you?

EDEN: Oh, it was that 3:00 in the morning phone call.

KING: Who called? Authorities don't do it on the phone.

EDEN: Well, they called a relative in northern California. He had my number in his wallet, but it said mom. And they never call the mother and the father directly. So they called another number, which was a cousin up near San Francisco who, in turn, called his father and then he called me.

KING: The father told you?

EDEN: No. No. The cousin. The cousin called.

KING: What did he say?

EDEN: I don't know because I didn't answer the phone. My husband answered it.

KING: So your husband told you.

EDEN: Yes, yes.

KING: That had to be the hardest moment. Did you know immediately it was drugs? EDEN: No, I didn't. Now, isn't that something? No, I didn't. I didn't. I thought it might have been because of past drugs. I thought that.

KING: You thought he was off it though?

EDEN: When they said -- yes, yes.

KING: So they had to do an autopsy?

EDEN: Yes, they did.

KING: And when they told you that it was that again, what were you feelings?

EDEN: Well, I don't know. You know, Larry, I don't know that I had any feelings at all other than sorrow. That's -- you know, it didn't matter how he died. He was gone.

KING: When someone's gone...

EDEN: Yes, yes.

KING: When I asked the dear lady the other night about whether it is worse to have your son -- when the child's murdered as opposed to dying of other kind of causes, and she said all loss is the same when you lose a child.

EDEN: That's right.

KING: Loss is loss.

EDEN: Mm-hmm.

KING: Knowing the reason is just information, right?

EDEN: Yes.

KING: But then you got on this kind of cause kind of thing. It happened here when we talked in January. You wanted to decide to help other people.

EDEN: Yes. Yes. I just feel it's very important to alert parents to realize that this could happen to them when their child is young. We all hear about the 20-year-olds, you know, and the 30- somethings that are put in rehab, the actors that are using and -- but we don't -- we forget that they start when they're little. We have no idea that they start when they're that young. I didn't. And I think it's important that parents know that. I think it's important that they know that it's possible. I guess that's what's important.

KING: Think about it.

EDEN: Yes. Once you know it's possible and it's not something, oh, my child wouldn't do that, you know, then you'll be more alert. And you can save them. And if they are using or dabbling, boy, you can get them right into rehab quickly.

KING: So you, when you would gather, say, with friends in L.A. and some might talk about their children being on drugs, you never thought it would be your boy?

EDEN: No, of course not. His father didn't, I didn't, none of our friends do, you know. We don't even overdrink. It just couldn't happen.

KING: Barbara Eden is our guest. We're going to go to your calls shortly. We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The one person in my life I can always count on is my mother. She's one of the strongest individuals I've ever met. I think my mom is really amazing. She's just one of those people that works hard at her mental outlook. It's really not how much money you make, it is how much you enjoy your life.



KING: We're back with Barbara Eden, actress, entertainer -- of course TV's beloved Jeannie. And, as obvious when we went to that break, and -- we know it upset you and that's kind of hard. He really loved you. That was your biography that he appeared on.

EDEN: Yes.

KING: And his movie is -- what's the title of his movie?

EDEN: You know, I can't remember the title of it. It's a prison movie.

KING: And his name is Matthew Ansara.

EDEN: Matthew Ansara. And they...

KING: And Eric Roberts is in it?

EDEN: Eric Roberts is in it, and they put Matthew's name at the end, they...

KING: Oh, in...

EDEN: Yes.

KING: In memory of.

EDEN: Yes. That this memory -- this was made for Matthew. He had a lot of friends. He had a lot of friends.

KING: What was the funeral like? EDEN: There were over -- I was shocked at all the people that loved him came to say good-bye. I was really surprised. One of the young men gave me a lovely American flag folded with Matthew's name on it because Matthew was also very patriotic.

KING: Did you -- and you said your last Christmas with him was wonderful. He even let his hair grow.

EDEN: Yes!

KING: Because he shaved his hair by choice.

EDEN: Oh, yes. He'd shave his head, he'd grow it, he'd have the mustache. He'd take that off. It was his toy.

KING: So he let the hair grow for his mother's Christmas.

EDEN: For Christmas, yes.

KING: All right. Now, you're telling parents to what, look out? What else?

EDEN: I'm telling them to know that it can happen to them. That's the most -- that's No. 1. Then No. 2, know the signs of drugs. And I guess a lot of us have read about it.

We know if they stay in their room too long and they sleep too long, that it's a sign. A lot of the signs are typical teenage behavior, but it shouldn't be extreme. I mean, sure, they get angry and they get upset.

KING: Rebellious.

EDEN: Yes, but it shouldn't be extreme. Don't think that you're being a bad parent because you invoke the Mommy Laws, as Matthew used to say, or the discipline on your child. They need it.

KING: Ask...

EDEN: And be nosy.

KING: Ask your children -- be nosy?

EDEN: Be nosy.

KING: Investigate their friends, look at their friends?

EDEN: Yes.

KING: Be suspicious if they spend the night at someone's house you don't know?

EDEN: Well, you don't let them spend the night at someone's house they don't know. I never -- I never did. This is the problem. I -- but I didn't know what to look for. I would let -- I always knew where he was. I always knew the people that he was with. But I didn't know, for instance, I couldn't recognize drug behavior in adults. I didn't know some of the parents were using.

KING: Did -- is the No. 1 tell-tale sign behavior?

EDEN: Oh, I guess so, yes. Behavior. Of course, there's -- I mean, as they go down the road, there's a drug paraphernalia stuff. And it's -- you know, in the '70s we all thought it was very funny. Ho, ho, ho, he has a bong. Your child should not have a bong. They shouldn't have the drug paraphernalia. Those aren't toys. They have them, they're using them.

KING: He has a bong...

EDEN: They're using them.

KING: ...he has a pipe, and he don't smoke tobacco.

EDEN: Yes, that's right. It's not just because they're teenagers and they want to pretend. They're not pretending. Get rid of it.

KING: Have other people contacted you since his death? People who've lost people?

EDEN: Yes. It's interesting. I was surprised at the beginning. Now I'm not. Because, as you know, I was on tour with a play for a good part of last year. And people would come up to me in the airports and share their troubles and tell me about their loss. And oh, my goodness, there are a lot of us out there.

KING: A lot of us.

EDEN: You know, it's just so sad. But I think we can do something about it. I really do. I think it -- I think it's -- there's hope.

KING: And of course, peer pressure leads to a lot, right? His -- the friends.

EDEN: Oh, yes, yes. Peer pressure is a huge, huge thing.

KING: Was work helpful for you?

EDEN: This last year?

KING: Yes.

EDEN: Yes, it was. It was. I'm not saying I wasn't -- I didn't have my moments, but at least I wasn't at home staring at the walls and banging my head.

KING: Did you do a comedy?

EDEN: I did a comedy, yes. I did "The Odd Couple," the female version of "The Odd Couple." KING: Oh!

EDEN: Yes.

KING: Who were you?

EDEN: Oh, the neat one.

KING: You were Felix.

EDEN: I was Florence.

KING: Florence.

EDEN: And my girlfriend Rita McKenzie played Oscar, or Olive.

KING: There you see a scene from it. Was it fun to do it?

EDEN: Oh, yes, it really was.

KING: I -- many have thought that's the funniest comedy ever written, pure comedy. Did it play well as -- with women?

EDEN: Terrifically well. We had such a successful run. And it was so much fun.

KING: So it when it was two -- then it's two twin boys that come -- or two guys that...

EDEN: Yes, two Spanish guys, two crazy Spanish guys. And they were fabulous. We had a great cast.

KING: When you're on stage, you were able to put it away?

EDEN: Well, that's what I'm trained to do. That's my job.

KING: What goes now for Barbara Eden? Where do you...

EDEN: Well, right now the next thing I do, I'm going to Australia, and I'm going to go on a speaking tour. And they're also, they're having a Jeannie, "I Dream of Jeannie" marathon in Australia.

KING: A marathon. You mean...

EDEN: A marathon. A whole weekend of nothing but "I Dream of Jeannie." So I'll go and appear there.

KING: Also they're going to make a movie, huh?

EDEN: Yes. Just before I got here.

KING: The new Jeannie.

EDEN: That's right. Sid Gamus (ph) is producing it at Sony.

KING: And just before you got here, what? EDEN: He called and said to my manager, he said tell Barbara we have a wonderful outline and we have a couple who's writing the script, and it is going ahead. So this will be interesting. I have no idea what I'm going to do in it.

KING: Are you going to be her mother?

EDEN: Probably, or evil aunt or something.

KING: Are we going to do anything in Matthew's memory, any kind of a foundation, any kind of a tribute using the name, any thoughts in that area?

EDEN: I really haven't come to that point yet. I don't know.

KING: Are you going to be an activist? You're offering advice to parents.

EDEN: I don't know if I'm an activist. I'm going to -- any time anyone wants to hear me talk, I'll talk about it. I'll...

KING: When you go out and speak, will you speak about it?

EDEN: Yes. I went to Washington, D.C., what, a week-and-a-half ago, and I was there with Asa Hutchison, the DEA, head of the DEA.

KING: Right.

EDEN: And we -- I was there for the Prism Award people who, as you know, give awards to programs who promote honest and true depiction of drugs and alcohol and such. And I spoke in front of a few senators and to tell them how important it is.


KING: will speak about it?

EDEN: Yes, I will. Yes, I will. I'm getting a little more in control of myself and able to talk about it.

KING: You're doing very well. We're going to take a break. And when we come back, we're going to go to your phone calls.

She mentioned the Prism awards. Here's what it looked like.


EDEN: I am no expert on drugs, and if I was, my son would still be with us here today. I would have recognized that neighbors who I thought were very interesting, eccentric people were in reality burnt- out drug addicts who were growing pot in their backyard. I won't bore you with my journey in that arena. I just want to impress on you how important it is that we recognize drug behavior.



KING: "Playboy" called her one of the 100 sexiest stars of the century. A new profile was done of her in "TV Guide" in 1999. The last time she was spotlighted there was 18 years earlier, when she'd done "Harper Valley PTA." Both A&E and MSNBC have done full-length biographies on her. There are scores of Internet sites devoted to her, merchandise related to her, particularly Jeannie stuff. And she's popular on the Internet auction site eBay. She's Barbara Eden, the TV's beloved Jeannie.

We're going to go to your phone calls. And we start with Albany, New York. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Barbara. And hi, Larry.


CALLER: I'm so sorry for your loss. I was wondering, Barbara, if you agreed with what Carroll O'Connor did, as far as holding the drug dealers responsible for the son's death and pressing charges against them?

EDEN: Well, I think drug dealers are a cancer on society. They're terrible, terrible people. But we as parents or we as just the people walking down the street, we can't fight the drug dealers. The only way we can fight them is knowledge and taking care of our young children. I don't know how I could get rid of a drug dealer. I would love to do it.

KING: Do you know who sold the heroin to Matthew?

EDEN: No, no. I have no idea.

KING: O'Connor did know. Stanton, California. Hello.

CALLER: Yes. Thank you, Larry and Barbara...

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Yes, Barbara, I am also sorry for your loss. I have an only child son who is also addicted to heroin. And in January, after battling this with him, he's an adult, and being in and out of rehab where they can just walk out, which is so hard because they have an illness. They don't want to stay there.

And I finally had him arrested in January. And he stayed in jail for six months. And he's out, but in a halfway house. I'm sure you lived with this fear, the constant fear that they're going to do it again. And I was wondering if you have any thoughts on maybe a movement to help change those laws where they can't walk out of those places. They're ill. They can't make those choices.

EDEN: You know, I wish we could mandate that, but that's really difficult because then people would abuse it. I don't know how we can make a law that says they have to stay. Your son doesn't want to be sober then, huh? KING: Why did you have him arrested?

CALLER: He was abusive.

EDEN: Yes. Yes. You just -- you mustn't. Do you belong to Al- Anon?

CALLER: Yes, I do.

EDEN: Yes. Does it help you?

CALLER: It does. But my life changed when this happened.

EDEN: Oh, yes.

CALLER: And I can't seem to put my life back together because of the constant fear.

EDEN: Yes. Yes.

CALLER: Even if he's not around me.

EDEN: Yes, I know. It's -- they tell you, of course, that it's not him. It's the drug. It's very difficult for a mother to think that way, though, isn't it?

KING: But it's very hard to keep someone involuntarily confined over 21 in an illness state.

EDEN: Unfortunately, you know...

KING: We'd like them kept.

EDEN: It's too bad because that's the only way they'll get well. It is like -- makes an impression on their brain, you know.

KING: Houston, Texas. Hello.

CALLER: Yes. Hello. Barbara, I just wanted to tell you you're an inspiration to everybody. And, hi, Larry.


CALLER: And I just have a quick question. Barbara, how are you yourself coping with this? Do you have a routine where you read the bible each day, or how are you dealing with this loss?

EDEN: Well, you know, I had a thought today, actually, when I was thinking about the miners down in the coal mine and how awful it was for not only for them, but for their loved ones up on top, and how many of us in the world have to deal with tragedy. And I think the only way we can deal with it is -- I happen to have a faith in God, of a higher power, whatever you want to call it.

I think we're put on this earth for a reason and it is to be productive. It's not to sit and do nothing. I think probably I will always hurt. But you really have a responsibility to people around you to get going, to put one foot in front of the other, as I said before, and to try to do something creative and productive for the world. You know, life is a gift. And, yes, I lost my son and I love him dearly. I have to do something that he'd be proud of me for.

KING: Did your faith ever waver?

EDEN: Did my faith ever waver or does it ever waver? No. No, it doesn't because I look at whatever you want to call it as a more impersonal creative force in the world. I don't think it's out to do good for us or to do bad for us. I think it's up to us.

KING: Do you think Matthew is somewhere?

EDEN: Oh, yes, I think so. I think so. I definitely believe that.

KING: San Diego. Hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello. Barbara, I hope that your suffering could ease just a little bit as time goes by. My situation is a little bit different. I learned that my 4-year-old son, after his birth, that his father was a drug addict and had a very long history of drugs, getting on and off. And when I realized that after all of my efforts he would probably keep relapsing, I distanced myself geographically from him and limit his visit with his son just annually.

My dilemma is wondering whether or not this is ever going to end and am I always going to have to feel shame and embarrassment over my son's father and what do I do with my son? What do I tell him because I'd like him to grow up in a healthy environment?

KING: You also fear your son might be prone to addiction someday?

CALLER: I don't think that, but I do think that his standard of what a healthy, good life might lower, lessen.

KING: OK, I've got to take a break, but I'm going to have Barbara think about that and respond to the question.

We'll take more calls. We'll be right back.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "I Dream of Jeannie")

LARRY HAGMAN, ACTOR: I'd like to ask a favor of you.

EDEN: Oh, thank you Master.

HAGMAN: It's for Roger. He's got a birthday coming up next week and I want to give him a surprise party.

EDEN: What is it you want me to do, Master?

HAGMAN: See, I was wondering if you could come up with an idea for the party.

EDEN: Oh, yes. I remember a party that Nero gave.

HAGMAN: No, no, I don't want anything quite that extravagant.


KING: Hagman was wonderful on that.

EDEN: Oh, he's a talented man.

KING: OK, before we get another call, by the way, tomorrow night -- we have may forgotten about him in the past couple of weeks with all the developments -- Ed Smart's going to be here. His daughter Elizabeth is still missing in Utah.

Ed Smart, among others, tomorrow night.

The lady whose husband was an addict, or is an addict and they've parted ways, and her son and how she deals with all that.

EDEN: Well, I'm no expert in this, and she certainly needs an expert. She needs to talk to someone who -- in that field.

But I would say that honesty is always the best policy.

KING: Be honest with your boy.

EDEN: You tell that boy exactly what his daddy -- what his sickness is. Don't be ashamed by it, because it's an illness. And explain that to your child.

And yes, I would watch the child, because it usually does run in families. Sometimes it skips a generation, but they have discovered that...

KING: The children of alcoholics are -- have to be concerned.

EDEN: Yes, yes, but sometimes it skips a generation, so that -- but his child, he must know that it's in the family.

KING: Centennial, Colorado for Barbara Eden, hello.

CALLER: Hi Barbara.


CALLER: I'm so proud of you for telling this story that so many of us share with you, and we would love to have you as spokesperson for our nonprofit.


CALLER: And my question is, what are your views about the war on drugs and programs like the DARE program, and what's been there in place so far? EDEN: I think they're all good. Anything that brings attention to this is good.

I don't know, sometimes it feels like we're swimming upstream with this problem, but I can't believe that. I don't want to believe that.

I think the DEA is doing wonderful, wonderful things on their side of the war. And I think that our side is to be vigilant, take care of our children, know what it's all about.

KING: Any interest in legalization?

EDEN: In legalization of drugs?

KING: Yes, a lot of people think that they can't beat it, so this way you know who your addicts are, they don't get hit over the head and prices come way down.

EDEN: I don't believe in it. But as I said before, I'm no expert. I...

KING: Your gut says no.

EDEN: My gut says no, because I know that in the Netherlands it's a huge problem.

KING: Cleveland, Ohio, hello.

CALLER: Hello Mr. King, Ms. Eden.


CALLER: I want to commend you, Ms. Eden, for sitting in that chair you're sitting in tonight. What you're doing is not easy.

And my question or point I wanted to make was that I don't think preschool -- this is what you taught me tonight -- that preschool is not too early to start indoctrinating your children about the poison of drugs. Thank you.

EDEN: You're welcome.

KING: Do you think she's right? Start talking about it early?

EDEN: Well, I don't -- I'm not sure a preschool child would know what you're talking about.

It's important for the parents of preschoolers to watch, yes. It's important for the parents to be...

KING: But you can learn them about being offered things, and not take.

EDEN: Right, oh yes, sure. That's where the "Just Say No" comes in. They don't have to know details, just bad. KING: Manassas, Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Hi Barbara.


CALLER: Hi Larry.


CALLER: I just wanted to say that I'm a high school teacher, and I don't know if the society is aware of this, but every day I struggle with trying to teach students -- I would say about 50 percent of my students come to school with some type of substance in their bloodstream. And it frustrates me so much.

And I say, God, how can I teach these kids when they're under the influence of something?

So what I decided to do, I took some time, I thought it through. And I said, you know what? I'm going to have the start a parent drug awareness program. And that's what I'm in the process of doing, starting a nonprofit organization called Love Them and Save Them, because I just believe that the parents, they're not aware.

This is early in the morning. My first period class, I teach history, they come in dragging in, and I know they're high. I did some research on it, so I know. And most of them admit it to me.

EDEN: Well, you're doing a wonderful thing. That's very important, because the parents probably don't know.

KING: Fifty percent in the morning?

EDEN: Yes.

KING: You're doing a great job, ma'am.

EDEN: Yes.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Barbara Eden on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, take more calls. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Barbara Eden.

Salt Lake City, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I'm a 12-year-old girl, and I had a question: If you're ever in one of those situations, what -- how should you handle it? And do you have any ideas on drug prevention?

KING: What kind of situation do you mean, dear?

CALLER: In a situation where you're being offered drugs and get pressured and pressured.

KING: Has that happened to you?

CALLER: Not yet. I'm just curious what to do if it ever did.

KING: Good question.

EDEN: You walk away from it. If you're out and other people are using drugs and they're trying to make you use it you, of course, say no.

But besides that, always have a little money in your pocket so you can call a cab and go home. Don't stay there. Don't stay around it.

KING: But they worry about losing friends, right?

EDEN: Those friends you don't need.

KING: And they go, oh, come on.

EDEN: Those friends you don't need.

Yes, that is a worry, but those friends you don't need.

KING: In the long run, it ain't going to pay off.

Bartlesville, Oklahoma, hello.

CALLER: Yes. Hi Mr. King...


CALLER: ... and Ms. Eden, thanks for taking my call.

When someone that you care deeply for loses someone in a tragic accident, Ms. Eden, how do you help that person? And how do you, if you possibly can, help them deal with it, because it puts you in a precarious situation, I mean, in a very touchy situation that...

KING: Has this happened to a friend of yours or something?

CALLER: Yes, a very close friend of mine, his wife was killed a year ago this week in an alcoholic-related car accident and...

KING: Do you feel guilty, or he feels...

CALLER: He feels very guilty. And before the...

KING: What's the question?

CALLER: The question is how do you -- what can you do, if anything? What is the best thing to do?

KING: To help him?

CALLER: To help him, people that you love.

KING: Dealing with guilt.

Did you feel guilt?

EDEN: Oh, of course. I felt horribly guilty. I still do. I know it's not rational, but I still feel terribly guilty.

But I'll tell you what my friends did for me and still do for me, because nothing can help the person who's in anguish or really -- you can't get in there and tell them what to do. There's no pill that will help this.

You can just be there for him. Be a friend. Listen when he wants to talk and try to change the subject and make it happy if you can sometimes.

KING: Should she harp on the fact that he's not guilty?

EDEN: I don't know. I think -- yes, I'm not a doctor. And I -- what you could -- of course, you can make the statement. I don't know that he'll believe it.

KING: Ocala, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Good evening Larry, good evening Barbara.



CALLER: Barbara, keep your chin up, honey. You're a remarkable woman, and you're in all of our hearts.

EDEN: Thank you.

CALLER: And my question is: Do you plan on writing your life story?


KING: No plans on doing a book?

EDEN: No, no.

KING: Why? You've had a very -- boy, you've had an interesting life.

EDEN: Well, you know, Larry, there are just too many people alive that wouldn't like it if I -- not that it would be negative, but no matter...

KING: But it would be, obviously, if you're saying that.

EDEN: No, no it wouldn't. A lot of things are not negative, but people don't want to be talked about, and I think I should respect that -- my family, my friends. I can talk about actors I've worked with or jobs I've done.

But when I have been approached to do a book, to write a book, they generally want to know about very, very private things.

KING: Who you slept with, things like that.

EDEN: Yes, things like that. And I don't think that's anyone's business, and I don't really care to talk about it.

I know a lot of people used to want me to talk about Matthew. And it was his story, it wasn't my story, you see? I never did and -- until he talked about it, until he told the world that he was fighting this problem and then it was OK.

But I have many friends, I have family that wouldn't -- they just don't want to -- that's just not nice, you know?

KING: It's not you.

EDEN: It isn't me. You shouldn't do it.

KING: Barbara, you're a heck of a lady.

EDEN: Oh, thank you.

KING: Thank you. Thank you for coming on in January to discuss it for the first time. Thank you for coming on tonight.

I hope you helped a lot of people.

EDEN: I hope so.

KING: Barbara Eden, TV's beloved Jeannie.

When we come back, we'll tell about tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: Stories have a way of pushing other stories out of the news. And in the last two weeks so many stories have happened that people haven't talked about or maybe thought about the Smart family in Salt Lake City, Utah. Elizabeth is still among the missing, and her father Ed Smart will be one of our guests tomorrow night.

We thank you for joining us tonight. We turn the proceedings over here on CNN to NEWSNIGHT in New York.




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