Interviews


Barbra Streisand


Occupation: Actress, Director, Producer, Singer
Date of Birth: April 24, 1942
Place of Birth: Brooklyn, N.Y., USA
Sign: Sun in Taurus, Moon in Leo
Relations: Husband: James Brolin (actor); ex-husband: Elliot Gould; son: Jason (with Gould)
Education: Attended Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, N.Y.; awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Brandeis University in 1995

 

LIKE a one-woman force of nature, Barbra Streisand stormed the entertainment world from all fronts before she turned 25. Granted, Brooklyn-born Streisand had an early edge on the competition  she graduated high school two years ahead of schedule and worked as a waitress and switchboard operator while building her reputation as a Manhattan cabaret singer and "kooky" character. Streisand's exquisite singing voice and magnetic stage presence (and skin "like buttah") were so striking that her distinctive long nose and New York accent hardly limited her appeal to mainstream audiences. She snagged the minor Broadway role of Miss Marmelstein in the minor show I Can Get It for You Wholesale, winning the New York Critics Award, and a ticket to the big time. The big time was the made-to-order part of Fanny Brice in Broadway's Funny Girl, the Oscar-winning movie role, and a multimillion-dollar CBS recording contract.

Streisand's sophisticated vocalizing has yielded more gold albums than any other entertainer in history: more than 40 albums and countless singles on the charts, not to mention a host of Grammys (including a Legend Award). An obsessive perfectionist, she took control of all aspects of the recording process. Emmy-winning specials, such as 1965's My Name Is Barbra, were further evidence of her attention to detail and her knack for surrounding herself with top talent.

After Funny Girl, Streisand went on to become the top female box-office draw of the '70s, but her film output was star-crossed. The little comedies weren't very funny and big-budget efforts like The Main Event and A Star Is Born were notable more for their hit soundtracks than their content. In 1983, Streisand took a giant risk by becoming the first woman to direct, produce, write, and star in her own picture. What possessed her to think that a 40-year-old woman could pass as a teenage singing Yeshiva boy remains a mystery. Though Yentl was panned, the soundtrack was a Top 10 seller. After a self-indulgent turn in Nuts, in 1991, she again proved her clout and chutzpah, as director and star of The Prince of Tides. Critics praised the movie  despite an embarrassing scene in which Streisand's prized finger nails steal center stage from Nick Nolte's physique  and fans were outraged when the Academy denied her a director's nomination.

An early marriage to Elliot Gould produced a son and a divorce, and a long live-in relationship with hairdresser-turned-producer Jon Peters inspired constant titters and rumors. Next at bat was Baskin-Robbins heir Richard Baskin, eight years Streisand's junior, followed by a series of high-profile, short-lived romances (Don Johnson, Andre Agassi, Peter Jennings<). She made likewise 50-something actor James Brolin, of Marcus Welby, M.D. fame, her husband in 1998.

Despite her chronic phobia of live gigs, Streisand sang out for several liberal causes and at good buddy Bill Clinton's inaugural concert. In a burst of mid-life energy in the '90s, she broke sales records with her $350-a-head 1994 concert tour, and won two more Emmys as the star and producer of a TV special filmed during the tour. Streisand took a lengthy sabbatical leave from filmmaking following the release of The Prince of Tides, but returned in style as the producer, director, and star of 1996's The Mirror Has Two Faces, in which she played an ultra-frumpy and hopelessly romantic English Literature prof who transforms herself into a gorgeous sexual virago (with the aid of her beautician mother and some inspired lighting) to seduce her platonic-love-minded husband, played by Jeff Bridges.

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