Barbara Eden is determined to honor her son’s memory.
Matthew Ansara, the only child of the actress and fellow performer Michael Ansara, who was also an actor and fitness trainer, passed away in 2001 at age 35. The cause of death was an accidental drug overdose.
At the time of his death, People magazine reported Eden was preparing for her son’s wedding, which was set to take place that year.
Barbara Eden with son Matthew Michael Ansara. (Photo by NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
“[He was] a beautiful young man,” she added.
Eden hopes her son’s story will help those struggling with addiction, along with parents trying to be a support system for their children.
“For a long time, I would go out and talk to parents about drugs, and the use of them and what to do… because I think a lot of people, we were totally ignorant, we had no idea what was going on,” she explained. “… [My mom] didn’t go into my drawers. I didn’t go into hers, and all that kind of thing. You open those drawers. You know what they’re doing every minute. I thought I did. But I didn’t know. And I think if we had known sooner, we could have dealt with it. We didn’t know until he was in college.”
The 89-year-old revealed that her son fought to get “clear and clean” but “he had a heck of a time.”
Barbara Eden and son Matthew Ansara attend the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame Ceremony Honoring Barbara Eden with a Star’ on November 17, 1988, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Eden and Ansara’s father, Micheal Ansara, were married from 1958 until 1974.
The patriarch, a television and movie actor whose roles included Klingon on “Star Trek,” passed away in 2013 at age 91 after a long illness.
Most recently, Eden has co-written a children‘s book titled “Barbara and the Dijin.” It chronicles the adventures of a young girl who meets a charming genie and later learns the value of kindness and understanding.
Earlier this month, Eden told Fox News she still has fond memories of her “I Dream of Jeannie” co-star Larry Hagman. The actor passed away in 2012 at age 81.
Barbara Eden as Jeannie, Larry Hagman as Anthony ‘Tony’ Nelson in ‘I Dream of Jeannie.’ (NBCU Photo Bank/Getty)
“You can’t describe it,” she said about her on-screen connection with the star. “It’s either there or it isn’t. And of course, with us, it was there. We had the same rhythm. We laughed at the same things. It was just there. We didn’t have to work at it.”
And when there was talk that Hagman would be replaced in the series, it was Eden who defended her pal.
“Sidney Sheldon, who of course was our creator, producer and everything, came to me and said that Larry was troubled,” she explained. “We all knew that he was personally troubled, but never on the set. When we worked, it was work and it was good. On film, he’s wonderful.”
“I simply said, ‘He can’t get along with people. That’s all. You can get around that. I think it would be foolish to switch him in the middle of the show,’” Eden continued. “… All I knew was they wanted to get rid of Larry and I didn’t think it was the wise thing to do.”
Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman remained friends over the years. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/FilmMagic/Getty Images)
“We just got along,” she shared. “I don’t think it was a surprise to him. Larry always had a friend. He knew that.”
Eden has also been thinking about the future and what it holds for her. In February 2022, she’ll be doing a show with The Edward Twins.
“I guess I enjoy my work,” Eden chuckled when asked what has kept her going. “I truly enjoy what I do and I love it… for me, it’s business as usual, to do what I love.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.