Barbra Streisand, an autobiography of music, film, love and discrimination

1000 pages for a unique autobiography

It was a long wait but finally the release of the autobiography entitled “My Name Is Barbra” by the legendary singer and actress Barbra Streisand did not disappoint the expectations of her still many fans scattered all over the world, giving them a story full of details, memories, thoughts and feelings, even intimate and in some ways unexpected. As she herself said actress and singer cIt took almost 25 years of work to create these memoirs of hers, having started taking pencil notes in 1999. The result is almost a thousand pages of surprising honesty and self-reflection, ironic digressions, encyclopedic memories of stage costumes, rigorous analyzes of her films, many of them re-watched for the first time in decades, but also delightful details of backstage discussions, tasty recipes and bewildered suitors.

“My legacy” between memories and insults

The book, as she herself said, is her attempt to correct history, “the only way to have some control over my life”. About her Her memories Streisand, 81 years old, born in Brooklyn in 1942, presents them as “my legacy. I wrote my story. I won’t have to do any more interviews after this one”. The insults that have hurt her deeply are those that essentially concern her physical appearance, a lesson she learned early, the hard way, after her arrival in the United Kingdom in 1966, when Newsweek wrote that “her nose is too long, her breasts too small, her hips too wide”, only to then recognize that “when she stands in front of a microphone she transcends generations and cultures”. She was also called a “lovely anteater” with an “incredible nose” that resembled “a short-sighted gazelle.”

Discriminated like all women in Hollywood

“My Name is Barbra”, published by the Viking publishing house, offers the reader an all-round vision of 60 years of life and career of the Brooklyn actress, singer and director capable of selling 250 million records, winning 10 Grammys, five Emmys, a Tony and two Oscars. “I want the truth to be known and this book is my legacy,” Barbra told CBS in an interview on the eve of its publication. Among the underlying reasons, discrimination against women in Hollywood: “A man is strong, a woman is an climber. He shows leadership, she dominates. If he acts, produces and directs he is defined as a multi-faceted talent, she is simply vain and selfish”, writes the diva of Yentl And How we were.

Rivalry and great love stories

Relationships with men are another central motif: Barbra would have preferred to leave them out but the publisher wouldn’t hear of it. And so here is the story of those who felt threatened like their costar Sydney Chaplin (the son of the great Charlie) who every evening threatened to sabotage his performance in Funny Girl. Or director Frank Pierson attacking his performance on the set of A star was born like someone never satisfied with the shots. Those who didn’t feel threatened were seduced: Omar Sharif wrote her long love letters and even the future King Charles, who as a student at Cambridge had a poster of Barbra in his dormitory room, once praised her “great sex appeal”. . After her marriage to Elliott Gould from whom her son Jason was born, Streisand had a love affair with Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, the actors Don Johnson and Ryan O’Neal and the tennis star Andre Agassi, 28 years her junior. With her current husband James Brolin, 25 years ago, her first date risked failing due to her sarcasm, but James was struck.

His career

Orphaned of her father at 15 months and with a cold and uncommunicative mother, Barbra was saved by her talent: “At five years old I already knew I had a voice”. Singing at 19 at Bon Soir, a club in the Village, Streisand was discovered by manager Marty Ehrlichman who offered her a contract with Columbia Record. The rest is history: in the 60s and 70s Barbra was unstoppable: in addition to musical films, she played roles of the screwball heroine in But dad sends you alone And The Owl and the Kittenthen made her cry in the romantic drama How we were with Robert Redford while becoming one of the best-selling singers of all time. In 1983 with Yentl her directorial debut: it was the first Hollywood film with a female screenwriter, producer, director and performer. The rest is the story of a legend, however!