Barbra Streisand will narrate the audio version of her autobiography
The Hollywood star has put pen to paper to tell her own story of her wildly successful career in her latest memoir, “My Name Is Barbra.”
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“My Name is Barbra” is everything you could expect from Barbra Streisand’s memoir.
In his scintillating 992-page tome (out now, Penguin Random House), the stage and screen legend spares no detail about his difficult upbringing, his illustrious career, and all the friendships and flirtations between the two. Streisand, 81, devotes chapters to several of her most beloved films, including “What’s Up Doc?,” “Hello Dolly!” and “The Way We Were,” and recounts how she met her husband of 25 years, actor James Brolin.
The memoir is as sharp, funny and refreshingly candid as Streisand herself, as the standout singer opens up about stage fright and early criticism of her appearance, with “multiple people” telling her to get a nose job first his big break.
Here’s what else we learned from the “My Name is Barbra” reveal:
Interview: Barbra Streisand on Judy Garland, “What’s Up Doc?” » and why she could “always play Mama Rose”
Barbra Streisand fought the ‘diva myth’ and discovered a passion for directing in ‘Funny Girl’
In the book’s 14th chapter, Streisand meticulously recounts the making of her very first film, 1968’s “Funny Girl,” in which she reprized the role of Fanny Brice that she previously played on Broadway. She recalls some of the bizarre ways director Sidney Lumet (“Network”) intended to reimagine the musical numbers — with magical instruments and unsightly infants, among other things — before being replaced by filmmaker William Wyler (“Ben-Hur”).
Streisand fondly remembers her collaborations with Wyler and cinematographer Harry Stradling, and how they received her feedback. She suggested that the heartbreaking “People” be shot in medium close-up and that the saucy “You Are Woman, I Am Man” be sung primarily in voiceover. After production on the film was completed, she also asked to cover the moving finale anthem “My Man” so that she could perform it live on set, rather than lip-syncing to a pre-recorded track.
“Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was thinking like a director,” writes Streisand, who in 1984 became the first woman to win the Golden Globe for best director for “Yentl.” “Maybe I would be a better actress if I was more focused on my role alone. But I was concerned about the whole movie. How does this scene relate to the next one? Does this moment serve the story?
Gossip columns of the time claimed she was difficult and controlling. Wyler came to her defense, saying she was “totally dedicated” and wanted to “better herself.”
“It was the beginning of the diva myth that has followed me my whole life,” Streisand writes. “I wasn’t giving orders. I asked questions. This is how I learn. But I guess some people had a hard time with a woman who had opinions, and word got around that I was taking over.
At the end of filming, Wyler gave Streisand a director’s megaphone stamped “Barbra Streisand DGA.”
“I was so delighted that he had thought enough about my ideas to give me such an inspiring gift, encouraging me to achieve,” she wrote. “It was funny and prophetic and it’s one of my most prized possessions.”
Memoir ‘My Name is Barbra’ Reveals Love Letters from Omar Sharif
Streisand was 25 when she began filming “Funny Girl” in Los Angeles in the summer of 1967. At the time, her first husband, actor Elliott Gould, was filming a project in New York. The couple, who married in 1963, “had been separating for a few years”.
“Even though we were technically together, we were already leading separate lives,” Streisand writes. This made the film’s iconic opening line, “Hello beautiful,” all the more emotional to film, as Fanny reckons with fame and her tumultuous marriage to Nick Arnstein (Omar Sharif).
“I had achieved my dream… but at the same time, I lost my husband,” Streisand writes. “And I didn’t know how to fix it, or even if I wanted to. And I had a 9 month old baby (Jason). I felt so vulnerable. You can see it in my eyes.
At first, Streisand and Sharif didn’t care much for each other: she thought he was “rude” and he told a reporter that she was “not very pretty.” But the two eventually grew closer throughout filming, although she writes that their relationship never escalated beyond holding hands, going to dinner, or playing cards. While writing her memoir, Streisand discovered old love letters Sharif wrote to her after making “Funny Girl.”
“There are phrases like: ‘The thing I want most in my life is to have you with me, to go everywhere together, to hold you, to put you to sleep and to wake you up.’ To kiss you, to talk to you, to love you with all my being. …And all the time you sing to me,” Streisand wrote. “He held me until I sang.”
“Our attraction to each other worked for the film, but I didn’t see a future with him,” she continues. “Recently, I had the chance to meet her grandson, who said Omar told him, ‘Besides your grandmother, Barbra is the only woman who has ever won my heart. If things had gone differently, she could have been your sweetheart!’ “
Streisand felt ‘stupid’ for rejecting Brando and wooed Elvis for ‘A Star is Born’
Streisand divulges many other memorable celebrity encounters throughout “My Name is Barbra.” One chapter is devoted to her longtime friendship with Marlon Brando, who made many passionate advances before and after her divorce from Gould in 1971.
“Now, looking back, I can’t believe my answer,” Streisand says. “So stupid! Today I’d be more adventurous, but I was too sexually insecure back then, still a nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn with my mother’s admonishments ringing in my head. Free love wasn’t not my style.
Streisand also recalls how she and her former partner, producer Jon Peters, once considered Elvis Presley to star with her in the 1976 musical drama “A Star is Born,” before the role went to Kris Kristofferson. She even traveled to Las Vegas to meet Presley in person.
“We talked about the film and Elvis was interested,” Streisand writes. “But obviously it didn’t work. Marty (Erlichman, his longtime manager) says Colonel Parker asked for more money than we could afford. And Jon said the Colonel wanted to produce the film. I’m not sure about that. I know that Elvis had gained a lot of weight and was no longer in peak form, although he still attracted a large audience. Maybe the story was a little too close to his own life, and the colonel talked him out of it.
And in one passage, Streisand recalls the night of the Oscars when she won best actress for “Funny Girl,” tying with Katharine Hepburn for “The Lion in Winter.” Hepburn was not present but later sent him a congratulatory note.
“Dear Barbra, I think you’re truly top-notch and full of everything that it is and I’m proud to share this perch with you for next year. Besides, I just hope that osmosis transfer me some of what you have. Sincerely, Kate Hepburn.
Streisand, who last appeared on screen in the 2012 comedy “The Guilt Trip” with Seth Rogen, concludes the book by writing of her crushing disappointment at never being able to direct the musical film “Gypsy” which she dreamed of for a long time. His passion for the big screen shines throughout the memoir.
” I love the cinema ! It’s the perfect medium for me,” Streisand writes. “You do every scene, and then that’s it. Do. People can watch me play my heart out, sing and sweat… meanwhile I’m at home taking a nice bath.