ARTIFACTS

The David Bowie/”I Dream of Jeannie”/Chuck Yeager West Virginia Connection



ARTIFACTS’ is an occasional, fluffy feature showcasing oddball or noteworthy photos, documents, and ephemera with a West Virginia connection


David Bowie was here


Image courtesy Mari-Lynn Evans

Here’s something you don’t see every day: A note from David Bowie scrawled on the house stationary of a non-fancy hotel in the capital city of West Virginia. Mari-Lynn Evans, a producer of many television and video programs, including “The Appalachians,” “Coal Country,” and “Living Well: A Guide to Healthy Aging,” among others, recently posted this photo to a Facebook thread. She explained the note’s provenance thusly:


I met Bowie after his 1974 concert at the Charleston Civic Center. It was my 15th birthday present. I went to his room at the Holiday Inn and spent hours talking with him. He gave me the Diamond dog tags and an autograph! My mother was my escort. Bowie and I stayed in contact until the end of his life as our lives ended up with mutual friends.


PS: It’s kind of weird but this is the THIRD Bowie/West Virginia connection WestVirginiaVille has published since January 2021. Our David Bowie Bureau previously posted: 1) A touching memoir of the ties between a young West Virginia-born writer and her Dad, woven by the music of Bowie; 2) A re-posting on Jan. 8, 2021 (which would have been Bowie’s 74th birthday) of a kick-ass 2010 Bowie musical homage by West Virginia-born actress Ann Magnuson and friends at The Empty Glass in Charleston WV.

PSS: Got a new Bowie/Mountain State connection? Reach out to our David Bowie Bureau here.


I Dream of Jeannie and Chuck


“Jeannie” meets the Colonel.

We don’t know the source of this photograph above, featuring Barbara Eden of “I Dream of Jeannie” fame materializing at the desk of famed Mountain State aviator Chuck Yeager, born in Myra, West Virginia. It appeared on one of our social media feeds and we passed it forward.

The unexpected combo of two cultural icons in the same frame is irresistible eye candy. Wherever we re-posted this photo on various social media, it generated delight, clicks, and forwards.

But what was the occasion? We’ve not been able to suss it out. A friend suggested this encounter of the icons may have occurred after the 1979 publication of Tom Wolfe’s best-seller “The Right Stuff,” which portrayed the culture of the test pilots like Yeager who vied to become America’s first astronauts in the Mercury space program. With the book’s boost to his profile, perhaps someone engineered this encounter with a cute, beloved 2,000-year-old genie. Yet “I Dream of Jeannie” aired from 1965 to 1970, although its 139 episodes have been on repeat in syndication ever since. Contact our Artifacts Bureau if you know more.

PS: Charles Elwood “Chuck” Yeager is considered one of America’s greatest test pilots ever. In 1947, he became the first pilot in history confirmed to have exceeded the speed of sound in level flight. Yet although he was a god-like figure in the flying community, he was never chosen an astronaut. Yeager died at age 97 this past December 7, 2020.


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