Barbara Eden's son passed away in June 2001. He started using drugs at the age of 9 or 10.
Barbara Eden captured the hearts of the American audience with her mesmerizing smile and her dexterous performances on screen. However, behind her cheerful personality, the actress buried the pain of losing her son, Matthew Ansara. The 35-year-old actor and fitness trainer passed away in 2001 due to his long-standing history of drug abuse.
When Eden became pregnant with Ansara, she was almost ready to give up her career. However, the pilot for I Dream of Jeannie had sold out and producers did not want to replace her. Instead, they managed to shoot around her pregnancy by covering her baby bump with props and veils, according to ABC News.
Ansara was born at a time when Eden's show was widely popular. But the professionally successful actress did not enjoy a pleasant married life after the stillbirth of her second child. The actress married TV actor Michael Ansar and also went into depression. Eventually, it affected her marriage and the couple ended up in a divorce battle. Ansara who was just 9 or 10 at the time was also affected by the problems in the family. It pushed the little boy into the world of drugs.
After the divorce, Ansara lived with his father in Los Angeles for six years while Eden remarried and shifted to Chicago. Years later, she parted ways with her second husband and moved back to L.A.
She was in for a shock when she returned. Her son was a changed boy. But Eden was unaware of what caused it. It is only when Ansara turned 19 that she realized her son was battling with drug addiction. So, Eden and Ansara's father sent him to rehab. "We didn't know any better," said the actress.
In the years that followed, Ansara continued to fight his addiction. Rebab visits were common and Eden was forced to warn her son against any further drug abuse. Unfortunately, her ultimatum caused Ansara to take refuge on the streets.
"He was told he did not have a home with me if he was going to use drugs, he had to leave. And he left! His father and I were frantic. We were looking for him everywhere. We didn't know where he was … He was sleeping on the streets," said the devastated mother.
Eden was heartbroken and could not bear to see her only child on the streets. "I would always bring him food. I wanted to see my son, but I didn't trust him," said the actress.
Eventually, Eden noticed a change in his son as he turned 31. "His life was on an even track. He had a lovely, lovely girl he was engaged to and they were going to get married in another month," recounted the mother. Sadly, the improvement in Ansara took a dip when he got introduced to bodybuilding steroids. He could not stop using them.
In June 2001, Ansara was found slumped over his steering wheel at a gas station. "Apparently he had taken a hit of heroin and he hadn't had it in quite a while, I guess. It killed him. It stopped his heart," said Eden.
Eden could not believe it. She thought her son was finally getting away from the demons that were killing him. Though years went by, Eden stated, "You never lose that hurt. I live with it every day. The pain may be less sharp with the years but it never goes away. You go on. You choose life. But you hurt," according to Express UK.
In her autobiography Jeannie Out of the Bottle, the actress spilled out some of her deepest emotions surrounding the loss of her son. “I’ve often been asked how anyone can cope with losing a child, and the answer is that you don’t. You can’t. There’s no way. You don’t know how you will get through it, how you can survive. But you just do. There’s no other choice,” wrote the actress, according to Closer Weekly.