Barbara Eden Recalls Working with 'Wonderful' Lucille Ball and 'Playboy' Desi Arnaz: 'I'll Never Forget Her'

·5 min read
LOS ANGELES - 2016: Actress Barbara Eden poses for a portrait in 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images); Cuban-born American actor Desi Arnaz hugging his wife, American actress Lucille Ball on the set of the TV series I Love Lucy. 1950s. (Photo by Mondadori via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - 2016: Actress Barbara Eden poses for a portrait in 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images); Cuban-born American actor Desi Arnaz hugging his wife, American actress Lucille Ball on the set of the TV series I Love Lucy. 1950s. (Photo by Mondadori via Getty Images)

Harry Langdon/Getty; Mondadori via Getty

Barbara Eden is a longtime fan of Lucille Ball.

During a panel at Christmas Con on Saturday, the I Dream of Jeannie star, 90, raved about her former friend and costar.

After being asked what it was like to work with the comedian, Eden said, "Oh my god. I'm going to stand up for this one." She did, then answered, "She was wonderful! She was absolutely a wonderful, beautiful person to work with."

Eden shared that her appearance in an episode of I Love Lucy in 1957 alongside Ball was her third job in Hollywood. "I'd had a little difficulty with the second one, who was a diva I worked with and she didn't like me, so I was really worried," Eden admitted.

Following her unfortunate experience with the other actress, she knew she had to be cautious when she found out she was working with Ball. "I thought, 'OK, I'll be very careful. I'll stay out [of her way],'" she said.

Eden added, "And I knew Desi was a playboy, so I knew I had to be careful there."

LOS ANGELES - 2016: Actress Barbara Eden poses for a portrait in 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images) ; A portrait of actress Lucille Ball circa 1950's. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - 2016: Actress Barbara Eden poses for a portrait in 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry Langdon/Getty Images) ; A portrait of actress Lucille Ball circa 1950's. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Harry Langdon/Getty; Archive Photos/Getty

Luckily for Eden, Ball surpassed her expectations. "She was lovely!" the actress said, remembering her role as Lucy's "country cousin."

"[Lucy] was in her dressing room and she's like, 'Barbara, come here, come here.' And I'm like, 'Oh my god. It's going to start. Here it is.' She said, 'Do you like that dress?' And I said, 'I love it. It's fine, it's fine, everything's wonderful,'" Eden recalled. "She said, 'Take it off.' So I take it off. Do you know that Lucy and her assistant sat there and put those shiny things [rhinestones] on that dress? They punched them in. But it was to make the dress look better."

Eden added, "That was Lucy."

The actress also shared that Ball wanted to sign her at the time but she had already signed with Fox. "I often wonder how wonderful it would've been to work with her as a coach and a teacher," Eden reflected. "But Lucy, I'll never forget her."

RELATED: How Lucille Ball Said Goodbye to Desi Arnaz Days Before He Died: 'They Loved Each Other Until the End'

Last year, Eden opened up to PEOPLE about her amazing journey throughout the years and why she doesn't plan on retiring any time soon.

"Sometimes one is forced to slow down, but I'll do what I do until I can't," she said with a laugh.

Barbara Eden
Barbara Eden

Harry Langdon/Getty

Eden has long been one of Hollywood's most beautiful and ageless stars, but these days, Eden has largely given up glam to enjoy a low-key life in Beverly Hills with her husband of 30 years, real estate developer Jon Eicholtz, 83, and their Labradoodle puppy, Bentley.

"I don't wear any makeup, just usually a mask and dark glasses," she says.

The Tucson native, who spent most of her childhood in San Francisco, discovered her love for performing early, singing in the church choir and competing in pageants. Her big break in Hollywood came in 1955 when she became a recurring sketch performer on The Johnny Carson Show before she landed her career-making Jeannie role on the NBC sitcom in 1965, starring alongside Larry Hagman.

RELATED: Barbara Eden Digs Up Jeannie Costume, Hangs with Bill Clinton

"She's easy to live with," Eden says of her iconic character, Jeannie. "She really is. I like her a lot. I think what makes me so happy is that so many people around the world like her. Not me. They like that character. And they like the show for what it is. It takes people out of themselves and into another world. And I appreciate that. I like it very much."

The show, which aired for 139 episodes from 1965 to 1970, followed a 2,000-year-old genie, played by Eden, and an astronaut with whom she falls in love with and marries, played by Hagman.

Barbara Eden
Barbara Eden

Silver Screen Collection/Getty

While Eden was finding great success in Hollywood, she faced a series of devastating blows after the show ended, including two divorces, the loss of an unborn child and her son Matthew's 2001 death at age 35 following a heroin overdose.

RELATED: Barbara Eden Opens Up About Her Son's Death by Overdose 20 Years Ago: 'Drugs Are Inexplicable'

If anything, the challenges she's faced — both professionally and personally — have taught her valuable lessons.

"People have to find their own way," she said. "Don't be afraid. Everyone's life is different. Everyone's beginnings are different. Learn to recognize in other people what you have inside yourself because that's the one thing we all have. We're all connected. Knowing that kind of got me over a lot of humps when I first came to town and started auditioning."

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These days, Eden — who published her first children's book, Barbara and the Djinn, with coauthor Dustin Warburton — is happy with where life has taken her.

"I'm really lucky," she said. "I have dear friends. I have a wonderful family, a very supportive husband, a dog who is adorable, but a brat! Yes, I'm very happy. I think life, everything, has to work itself out. There's a reason for most things, and I can't wish for it."

Christmas Con in California continues through Sunday. The next one is set for December 9-11 in Edison, New Jersey.