‘I Dream of Jeannie’ star gives theatre scholarship

A spring 2014 visit with students in the University of Kansas Department of Theatre inspired alumnus Jon Eicholtz and his wife, actress Barbara Eden, of Beverly Hills, California, to make a $300,000 gift to provide one full-ride undergraduate scholarship for a student who plans to be a professional actor.

“I had a desire to do something for the university in acknowledgement of and return for what it had done for me. KU gave me a foundation for my life,” Eicholtz said. “It also was important to me that this gift be meaningful to Barbara, and that it be a reflection of her career.”

Barbara Eden sits down with John Staniunas, professor of theatre
Barbara Eden sits down with John Staniunas, professor of theatre

Eicholtz earned a bachelor’s degree from KU in architectural engineering in 1962. His career in construction management and real estate development, took him across the U.S.

Barbara Eden is an actress and singer. She starred in the popular 1960s television series “I Dream of Jeannie.” She has starred in 25 feature films, five network TV series and 19 top-rated network made-for-television movies. She has headlined at major hotel resorts and casinos, and she continues to perform for audiences in the U.S. and abroad.

Mechele Leon, chair of the Department of Theatre, said the scholarship would be an asset in recruiting and rewarding students who not only demonstrate talent and academic achievements, but also have a proven commitment to a career as a performer.

“There’s no replacement for the inspiration that students get from speaking to a performer of that kind of international and national stature,” said Leon.

The inaugural recipient of the Jon T. Eicholtz and Barbara Eden Acting Scholarship is Jaclyn Nischbach, a junior theatre student from Wildwood, Mo.