Spring 1964


Barbra came gliding down the winding staircase from her tower bedroom wearing a padded lemon-silk robe, “looking as stylized and elegant as a Japanese empress,” her visitor thought, “the mannered effect jarred by a kitchen spoon of tomato-dripping stew in her slender hand.”

An interior decorator thrust a handful of swatches at her. “Which flocking for the foyer?” he asked.

Barbra glanced over at the swatches and pointed out the ones she liked, all while compiling a shopping list in her head. “Mayonnaise, garbage bags,” she itemized to herself. Barbra hadn’t gotten as far in her career as she had without knowing how to accomplish more than one thing at a time.

Her visitor that day was Shana Alexander, a writer for Life magazine and, not incidentally, the daughter of Milton Ager, the man who’d written “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Alexander had arrived at Barbra’s duplex to write a cover story on the young woman who’d taken Broadway by storm, and she had walked into the middle of a major decoration project. After nine months in the place, Barbra had decided it was high time to get the apartment furnished and decorated.

“Didja see the bed yet?” Barbra asked Alexander. “Upstairs. It’s the first thing that we bought.”

But the bed, for all its Elizabethan grandness, was nearly bare. Upholsterers were busy fluttering around it, considering ideas. Barbra told them she wanted the entire bed “draped and skirted with olive-gold damask,” and the top should be folded so that it made “a crown, with sort of tassels hanging down.” And she wanted “a red fur bedspread,” and damask curtains surrounding the bed that could either be pulled to enclose her or looped back to the bedposts to expose the lace curtains inside.

“Lace!” the decorator shrieked.

It wasn’t surprising that Barbra wanted the bed of a queen. Just days earlier, she’d sat for her portrait, like some sixteenth-century monarch. Life wasn’t the only magazine doing a cover story on her. So was Time, and the publisher there, Bernhard Auer, had sent over Henry Koerner, who had painted President Kennedy, to get Barbra’s likeness. She had sat for him in three sittings, staring straight ahead, her chin held still, her eyes painted with the signature Egyptian look Bob had designed for her so long ago. Astors and Vanderbilts got their portraits painted. Now Streisands did, too.

It had been a regal few weeks for Barbra. When, in the wee hours of the morning, the Funny Girl reviews had come rolling into the Rainbow Room, they’d all been predictably superlative. “Everybody knew that Barbra Streisand would be a star, and so she is,” Walter Kerr proclaimed in the Herald Tribune. “Hail to thee, Barbra Streisand!” exulted Norman Nadel in the World-Telegram. Barbra “proves . . . she can sing and clown in a way to live up to her immodest advance billing,” Richard P. Cooke judged in the Wall Street Journal. John Chapman in the Daily News thought the show was a “remarkable demonstration of skill and endurance on the part of Barbra Streisand.”

She’d run away with all the personal reviews, though a few critics had also offered kind words about Kay Medford, Danny Meehan, and even Sydney, who Chapman thought gave a “poised and likeable performance.” But Barbra dominated, and the magnitude of her performance was so blinding that critics truly didn’t care that the book remained fundamentally unsound. Kerr acknowledged that the second act was “thinner than it should be,” but declared that this wasn’t enough of a letdown to make him reconsider the entire play. Nadel said the show was “just this side of great,” but its defects paled beside the “big-voiced, belting singer and brass gong of a personality” that was Barbra.

Yet the most important reviews, for Barbra at least, were those that actually considered her acting as much as her voice and personality. Howard Taubman in the New York Times thought there was some “honest emotion underneath the clowning,” and Kerr had pointed to a moment near the end where he thought Barbra justified her stardom with some brilliant acting. It was the moment when Fanny is willing to take Nick back, but then realizes that he has come to ask for a divorce, so she covers up her true feelings. Kerr observed that in that brief scene, Barbra momentarily dropped “the maturity [Fanny] has been struggling toward through the entire second act” and reverted to the innocent, love-struck girl of the beginning. And she did so, the critic stressed, in a “half-sentence.” Kerr felt Barbra showed Fanny to be “an oak with the spine of a willow inside,” which, of course, could describe Barbra as well.

Trailed by Shana Alexander and her reporter’s notebook, Barbra gathered her entourage and hurried from the bedroom down to the street, where she hailed a fleet of taxis. It was time, she announced, to do some shopping. Elliott came along, too. At one antique shop, he grumbled about how much money Barbra was spending on an old, ornate piano that didn’t play. Barbra was certain it could be fixed, and besides, as everyone knew, it was her money, and she could spend it as she pleased.

Perhaps that was what irked Elliott. He wouldn’t let the matter of the piano drop, even though there was a reporter present. Or maybe, in some perverse way, Alexander’s presence actually spurred him on. The squabbling seemed to begin in jest, a “mock-fight, an actors’ fight,” Alexander thought. But suddenly the carefully crafted façade of a happy marriage cracked. Before the startled eyes of the reporter from Life, the Goulds were suddenly in the midst of “a screaming, four-letter fight in the street, hopping in and out of taxis, over curbs, past startled pedestrians, oblivious of decorator, friends, passersby.” It was big and theatrical and very unlike Barbra, for whom, most of the time, nothing seemed more important than control.

But the fault lines had become too unstable; as Barbra soared and Elliott stumbled, it was impossible to keep the tension between them hidden any longer. Alexander knew the conflict wasn’t really about the piano. It was about who was “in charge.” The next day, Barbra would make sure the reporter knew about the cactus plant adorned with a single rose that Elliott sent to her dressing room as a peace offering. But the damage was done. If they couldn’t pretend to the public that their marriage was secure and happy, how could they go on pretending to themselves?


They’d vowed to always be together on their birthdays, but on April 24, the day Barbra turned twenty-two, Elliott wasn’t there.

Ray Stark had sent around champagne and chocolate cake for everybody, which meant the stagehands had sticky fingers as they worked the curtains that night. After the show, Marty was hosting a supper party in Barbra’s honor. But none of it took the place of Elliott. Not long before, Barbra’s husband had flown to Jamaica, where he was shooting The Confession, an independent film starring Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland. The island’s Blue Mountain Inn was doubling as a northern Italian bordello presided over by Rogers as a black-wigged madam. The director was one of the old Hollywood greats, William Dieterle, whose credits stretched back to the silent era. Elliott was playing a deaf-mute who suddenly finds his voice after a shock. There was every reason, he had told Barbra, to expect big things.

Barbra was pleased that Elliott had work, but she missed him. No matter their squabbles, this would be the first birthday they weren’t together, and her husband’s absence was painfully significant. He’d been powerless to change location shooting dates, especially when the location was in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.

So Elliott made sure the gifts he sent Barbra were memorable. If he couldn’t be there with her on her special day, he provided her with some company: a rabbit, a canary, and a goldfish. Her publicists made sure to get the story to Earl Wilson, but if there was any particular significance to the animals, it wasn’t revealed. When Bob heard the story, he wondered if the gifts were Elliott’s codes for “sex, singing, and their life in a goldfish bowl.”

Putting aside any feelings of loneliness, Barbra prepared to go on stage. It had now been a month since opening night, and the boredom had set in just as it had on Wholesale. Barbra felt as if she were “locked up in prison” doing the same thing in exactly the same way every night, and her two-year sentence had only just begun. Walter Kerr, in his review of the show, had predicted it might happen. So much of Funny Girl was all about Fanny that he suspected it would only be a matter of time before “inspiration wanes and craft must make do in its place.” Kerr probably hadn’t expected it to happen this quickly, but he’d identified the problem clearly: “One feels the management is trying to cram an entire career into one show.”

It wasn’t just boredom Barbra was feeling. There was a growing antagonism with Sydney, whose ego had never recovered from being dumped and whose supporting role to the woman who had dumped him was beginning to chafe. The antagonism was only exacerbated by Barbra’s requests that Sydney change certain things that disturbed the “flow of her performance,” as she put it in notes left for him in his dressing room. Clearly Barbra hadn’t learned from doing a similar thing with Elliott. Instead of honoring her requests, Sydney tossed Barbra’s notes aside and began whispering to her as she came off the stage, “You really fucked that number up” or “You really ought to start writing some notes to yourself.” It was exactly the opposite of the little whispers of encouragement he’d once given her.

Yet there was even more to turn the young star into a nervous wreck backstage. Copies of Time with Barbra’s face on the cover were strewn everywhere. “She is the sort that comes along once in a generation,” the magazine had proclaimed. All those grandiose statements on opening night from people such as Lauren Bacall (“best thing I ever saw”) and Jule Styne (“greatest singer of my time”) might have been exactly what Barbra had been waiting to hear all her life. But they also had the power to overwhelm and terrify her. In the end, to everyone’s great surprise, including her own, the kid was only human.

“Now that I’m supposed to be a success,” Barbra told Joanne Stang, “I’m worried about the responsibility. People will no longer be coming to see a new talent they’ve heard about. I now have to live up to their concept of a great success. I’m not the underdog, the homely kid from Brooklyn they can root for anymore. I’m fair game.” Her stomach began to twist up at the most inconvenient times. Before a show she often felt nauseous or wracked with the worst heartburn. The doctors had prescribed Donnatal to control her intestinal cramping.

That night, Barbra took her curtain calls to the usual rapturous applause. She’d been wonderful as always; no one would have known that she felt sick to her stomach, pressured and claustrophobic, bullied by her costar, and lonely for her husband. But they did know something else. Suddenly, someone from a box seat called out, “Happy birthday!” Another box holder from across the way took up the cry, and then another, and then people in the balconies were shouting it. Soon the orchestra was striking up “Happy Birthday” and the whole theater was singing to her. Barbra, touched but also embarrassed, began tossing the roses she was given every night back over the footlights to the audience.

All those people out there whom she didn’t know—people she couldn’t see, people she’d probably never encounter again—loved her. They didn’t know her—they knew only the image she had given them—but they really seemed to love her.

It was something Barbra struggled to understand.


Stuart Lippner was a young man of sixteen who’d been to see Funny Girl multiple times. He’d first become aware of Barbra on PM East, when his mother had called him in from the other room to see some “nut on TV.” From that moment on, Stuart had been fascinated. “Here she was,” he said, “a nothing, telling important people they were schizy and all that.” He liked her “because she wasn’t afraid of people bigger than she was.” Yet for the longest time he wasn’t even sure of her name. She was just “the nut from TV.”

But Stuart sure knew Barbra’s name now, as did all the “Winter Garden Kids,” as they called themselves, who were gathered around the stage door. They were there for every performance, waiting for their heroine to arrive. Many of them were school dropouts, so that meant they could be there all the time for every show. “Their lives were just wrapped around Barbra,” Stuart explained. Some of them saved their money and followed her on tour. They owned all her records. If they couldn’t afford to buy the disks themselves, they shared them with one another.

Stuart was still in school, and he worked in the evenings, so he was on the periphery of the Winter Garden Kids. But he knew them all from being there on weekends, and he shared their devotion. These kids dressed like Barbra, with thrift-shop hats and scarves, and talked like her, too, even the ones who didn’t hail from Brooklyn. Stuart was a fellow Brooklynite, however, and expressed gratitude to Barbra for “doing a lot” for the accent. “A lot of kids aren’t ashamed of it anymore,” he told a reporter.

Out on the street, one of the boys was posted as a lookout, to let the rest of them know when Barbra arrived. Usually she never made it to the theater until half an hour before showtime. Other teenagers might idolize the Beatles, but these kids were different from the rest. They were “misfits,” Stuart said. Boys and girls who weren’t the sports heroes or the cheerleaders, who weren’t the pretty ones who got all the dates. Many of them were gay, Stuart realized, like himself, even if few admitted it. A number of them had “fucked-up home lives.” To them, Barbra was an inspiration. One boy named David admired how “everything she did was premeditated.” Barbra had wanted “to look weird” to get attention, David told a reporter who had come to interview the Winter Garden Kids, which made her not so different from himself or the other kids at the stage door, with their bushy sideburns and pointy shoes and black eye makeup. One girl named Barbara—spelled with three a’s, at least for now—thought that because their heroine “couldn’t look common and couldn’t look beautiful . . . she chose to look different.” And what, she asked, was wrong with that?

“Nothing,” Stuart replied. “She made it work. I give her credit for it.”

Stuart might not have been an official member of the Winter Garden Kids, but they sure envied him. That was because he’d actually made contact with their heroine, if a little indirectly. After reading in Barbra’s program bio that anyone who wanted “more personal information” should write to her mother, Stuart had thought, “Why not?”

Except he hadn’t written, he’d called. As it turned out, Mrs. Louis Kind was listed in the Brooklyn phonebook. When a young female voice answered, Stuart assumed it was Barbra, but contained his excitement and asked for Mrs. Kind. When Diana came to the phone, Stuart explained the reason he was calling, mentioning the program bio. Barbra’s mother seemed amused. Stuart asked if that had been Barbra who’d answered.

“No, that was Barbra’s younger sister, Rosalind,” Diana said. She paused. “How old are you?” she asked. Stuart told her sixteen. “Are you Jewish?” Mrs. Kind asked next. When he told her that he was, Barbra’s mother said, “Well, Rosalind is fifteen. Would you like to come over?”

Stuart jumped at the chance. Of course, he was aware that Mrs. Kind was attempting to “set him up with Rozzie,” but that didn’t stop him. Romance might not have been in the cards, but Stuart and Rozzie quickly became fast friends. Barbra’s little sister now weighed close to two hundred pounds, standing barely five-two. Far shyer than her older sister had ever been, Rozzie was so dowdy that some people mistook her for Barbra’s aunt. The young, impressionable girl envied her hotshot sister and longed to be a star just like she was, but the poor kid often froze up when speaking with Barbra. She didn’t know “how to approach a big sister who had gotten so famous,” Diana observed.

But with Stuart she found a soul mate. Despite Barbra’s discomfort with a fan getting so close with her family, Diana invited the young man back often to spend time with her younger daughter. Sometimes Stuart stayed for dinner. Afterward Rozzie would play the Funny Girl album, and the two of them would sing along, knowing all the words and imitating Barbra together.

One night, Stuart took Rozzie to meet the Winter Garden Kids, and Barbra’s younger sister had been much friendlier to them than the star herself. That was the strange paradox of it all: Here were these kids with so much affection for her, and Barbra seemed not to want it from them.

The lookout shouted that Barbra had arrived. The kids quickly arranged themselves so she would have to pass through them. “Hi, Barbra!” they shouted. “We love you, Barbra!” “Can we come up with you to your dressing room? Please, Barbra?”

From Barbra’s vantage point, the kids seemed like a gang of hoodlums waiting to jump her. She felt “threatened and frightened” as she hurried past them. Dressed in her usual attire, a pair of white wool pants and a knee-length cabled sweater—a look a number of the girls and even some of the boys were copying—Barbra did her best not to make eye contact with any of them. These kids hadn’t been part of the picture when she’d dreamed of being famous, nor were the fans who chased after her on the street shouting for an autograph. Barbra often felt as if she were being followed around. Presents were left for her outside her apartment building. One time some kid had jumped in front of her out of nowhere as she was getting into a cab to pay her fare for her. “It’s insane,” she told a reporter.

As her fan mail swelled, Marty started going through it to take out “the real screwy ones,” as Barbra called them, before they could frighten her further. That didn’t mean there weren’t some “nice, great letters” that made her feel good, letters that began “I’ve never written a fan letter before.” The sincerity of these letters moved Barbra. These people were responding to her work—to her art—not to her personality, she felt. And, to her relief, they were usually safely removed from her, in places like Albuquerque or Ottawa. They weren’t kids dressing up to look like her and running after her in the street.

As the Winter Garden Kids shouted they loved her, Barbra covered her face and rushed past them into the theater. Barbra felt they loved “the symbol” of what she was, not “the flesh and blood,” because they didn’t know the flesh and blood. The fans who had sung to her in the theater might have known it was her birthday, but that was all they knew. It frustrated her that fans and journalists could speak and write as if they knew her—her private self, not the public creature from television talk shows and nightclub acts. She was determined to keep a dividing line between the two. Barbra wished fervently she could just “be admired on the stage and then left alone in life.” But she was coming to realize that was impossible.

Back outside the stage door, her snub hadn’t discouraged the Winter Garden Kids. They were used to it. They remained steadfast in their devotion. “She reminds me of Shaw’s Cleopatra,” Stuart told a reporter. “She has the same ability to charm people without beauty. She has ambition and will. Personally, I think her success will be greater than Cleopatra’s.”

“Let’s hope she doesn’t end the same way,” said the Barbara with three a’s.


When word reached her backstage that she’d been nominated for an Emmy, Barbra was both thrilled and a little embarrassed. On the one hand, almost as if by a miracle, she was proving her prediction that she’d win all four major showbiz awards. The Grammy nominations had been expected: The Barbra Streisand Album was up for Best Album, Barbra herself was up for Best Female Vocal Performance, and “Happy Days Are Here Again”—which Columbia had paid so little attention to on its release—was up for Record of the Year. But no one had really dared to hope that Barbra would get an Emmy nod as well. The television academy had seen fit to give her one anyhow, for Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series. The problem was that Barbra was nominated for her appearance on The Judy Garland Show, and so was Garland in the very same category. Thus, Barbra’s one-shot was competing against Judy’s entire season. That was the reason for the embarrassment.

Some in the company thought Barbra seemed “a little too cocky” after the nominations came out; others, such as recently hired swing boy Bob Avian, felt nothing but pride in their leading lady. But there was no denying that Barbra called the shots now; with Robbins off to work on Fiddler on the Roof and Stark mostly in Los Angeles, it was Barbra who decided how the show would go each night.

So it wasn’t surprising on this evening for Sharon Vaughn to overhear Barbra telling Richard Evans, Funny Girl’s young, bearded production manager, that she would make her own script for the show. It had become common practice. During the period when they’d all been recording the cast album, Barbra had suggested a few tucks and trims to the script so the tired and overworked cast could get out of the theater ten or fifteen minutes earlier each night. But even after the album was finished, Barbra had continued to switch things around. She might ask the orchestra to end “Don’t Rain on My Parade” a little early, for example, or decide that “Cornet Man” should go on without its introduction.

It was a way of stirring things up, of tackling the boredom Barbra experienced doing the exact same thing every night. She was careful, however, never to alter the basic framework, Bob Avian said, understanding “the frame was just as important as she was.” Any cuts Barbra asked for were never going to hurt the show, Avian insisted. Someone who’d been to see Funny Girl before might not even notice such small changes.

But this night, unbeknownst to Barbra or the cast, Ray Stark had slipped into the audience. Either he had decided to make a rare, surprise visit from the Coast or someone had clued him in to what was going on. Not everyone was as complacent with Barbra’s tinkering, after all. Sydney Chaplin, who would certainly have had a motive for cluing Stark in, thought Barbra’s tinkering was “completely and utterly unprofessional,” one company member understood.

Backstage, Vaughn watched as Barbra went over the night’s changes with Evans. A few song introductions were moved around; a few scenes were shortened, eliminating the need for a couple of costumes. The production manager nodded in assent.

At the end of the show, there was great, tumultuous applause, just as there always was. But then, as the curtain dropped for the last time and the lights came up, the company heard the shouting.

Vaughn stopped cold in her tracks. Stark was limping backstage, shouting at the top of his lungs. “You will never change my show again! You will not change your costumes as you did! You will not change your songs! Do you understand me?”

Barbra understood all too well. She had hoped she was through with Stark’s outbursts, but it was clear that she was bound to him in all the ways she had feared. This was what the next eight years would look like: a series of high-decibel clashes between two people who abhorred the art of compromise. For now, Barbra held her tongue. There were ways to work around Ray Stark, she’d come to learn. She knew that soon he’d be consumed with getting The Night of the Iguana ready for release, and she could go back to tweaking the show. She really had no other choice. It was the only way she could keep herself from going stir-crazy.


Under the Jamaican sun, Elliott was sweltering. Temperatures spiked into the nineties, but it was the humidity that really wore people out. The Jamaican government was financing The Confession as part of an initiative to bring in foreign filmmakers. The film’s producer was the cowboy-booted William Marshall, whose only qualification for the job was that he was Ginger Rogers’s husband. But William Dieterle was an old hand at moviemaking; he kept the shoot progressing, even if conditions were difficult. Most of the bit parts were being filled by Jamaican locals, who proved rather stiff in front of the cameras. “Now look,” the German-born Dieterle directed them. “Vy you look so sad? You are entering a brothel! You are about to have a voman! You must look happy!”

As Elliott waited to be called for his scenes, he knew that his own woman, some fifteen hundred miles northeast of him, was, if possible, having an even more difficult time of things. The pressures of carrying Funny Girl were intense, and that wasn’t even considering all the demands Barbra faced from the media, the public, and the fans. More and more, Elliott felt he needed to get back to New York in order to “protect her.” It may have been rather chauvinistic of him: “She was my woman,” he said as an explanation for his feelings, and Barbra needed protection from “those fucking fan-magazine photographers” who stalked her every time she headed out on the street. Elliott was no doubt pleased that Dieterle thought they’d be wrapping up the shoot in the next week or so. For all his conflicts with his wife over the last few months, Elliott wasn’t ready to give up on their marriage quite yet.

Still, he wanted to believe the separation had been worth it. People were saying he was giving “a remarkable performance” in this film. He would need good reviews from The Confession to take his career to the next level because, as usual, there wasn’t anything else on the horizon, except the television play with Carol Burnett. There’d been talk that he might be cast in Fiddler on the Roof, but that had come to nothing.

So he sweated through the shoot and endured the sunburn. Three days of shooting in the oven of a roofless, ruined church without windows had turned the cast into baked goods. Maybe Elliott’s analyst had been right when he’d called him a “masochist.” But suffering through heat and humidity was the least of it. The real masochism, Elliott surely knew, would start again when he was back in New York. As much as he wanted to be by Barbra’s side, he also knew that once he returned, he’d fall right back into the old pattern, trying to keep up with his wife’s soaring success. The “perversity of fame,” as he so astutely called it, would prove far more debilitating than the Jamaican sun.


On the stage of the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria, singer Jack Jones suddenly froze, forgetting the lyrics to the song he was singing, “The Good Life,” one of the nominees for Song of the Year. Tony Bennett came bounding up from his seat and relieved Jones of the microphone, finishing the number with aplomb. But except for that little kerfuffle, the ninth annual Grammy Awards banquet had been pretty boring.

Barbra sat at a table with, among others, Mike Berniker. The two of them had come a long way in the last year and a half. Berniker had taken Barbra on when she’d been an unproven commodity that no one else at Columbia was eager to produce. Back then, Barbra had said to Berniker, “Let’s go,” and go they certainly had. Currently, The Third Album was holding steady at number 8 on the charts, and even all these months later, the first and second albums were at 24 and 23, respectively. Barbra had ended up making an extraordinary amount of money for Columbia.

Now they hoped that she’d win them a Grammy, or two or three. But Barbra had known disappointment in this room before. It was here at the Waldorf that she hadn’t won the Tony Award for Wholesale. Still, in the last few days, it had seemed as if her audacious prediction was on the fast track to coming true: first the three Grammy nominations, then the unexpected Emmy nomination, and finally, on May 4, the Tony nomination for Funny Girl. Only the Oscar would have to wait.

But for every premium her success paid, Barbra seemed also to be reminded of the costs of fame. On the morning after the Tony nominations had been announced, Carol Haney had been found unconscious in the Bowery. Their erstwhile choreographer had been nominated for her work in the show—work that had been significantly restructured by Jerry Robbins, as Haney well knew. She’d been drinking heavily; she was also a diabetic and had been without insulin for a dangerously long time. Rushed to Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, New Jersey, she was diagnosed with bronchial pneumonia, but that was only the surface of her problems. Haney was later transferred to New York Hospital, where, two days ago, she had died.

Some people thought Haney’s dismissal from Funny Girl had played a part in her death. “It not only destroyed her career,” Lainie Kazan said, “but her life.” When, twenty minutes before showtime, word reached the Winter Garden that Haney had passed away, a pall had fallen over the company. A suggestion that her death be announced to the audience was nixed, however. “There’s nothing we can do for her except to do her steps,” Richard Evans said. “We have got to do her work tonight, no matter how hard it is for us.” Upstairs, in her dressing room, Barbra received word of Haney’s death from a reporter. She was solemn as she ran her fingers through her hair. “God,” she said. “She was so talented and so gentle.”

But gentle didn’t often survive in a world of wolves. Barbra had understood that right from the start.

Sitting at the table at the Waldorf, Barbra heard her name called as the winner for Best Female Vocal Performance. She’d just been named the “best” by her peers, which mattered a great deal to her. Who would have thought such a thing possible the day she’d sung “Day by Day” in Barry’s apartment? Now, more than four years later, Barbra had just been adjudged better than any of her fellow nominees—Eydie Gormé, Miriam Makeba, Peggy Lee—Peggy Lee!—and, in an occurrence that no doubt made Barbra smile, the Singing Nun. She wasn’t just the most commercially successful; she was also the best.

She was disappointed when Henry Mancini’s “Days of Wine and Roses” beat out “Happy Days Are Here Again” as Record of the Year. But the big prize was still ahead. At the end of the evening, the nominees were announced for Album of the Year. Barbra was up against the Singing Nun, Mancini, Al Hirt, and the Swingle Singers, who used their voices to interpret Bach’s great compositions. When the envelope was opened, The Barbra Streisand Album was named the winner.

Better than even Bach, it seemed.

Technically, this was Berniker’s award as producer. As the room filled with applause, however, he leaned over to Barbra. “Thank you,” he said quietly.

She looked at him. “That’s my line,” she said, “because you did it.” Then she added, “I love you.”

It was a thoughtful, if slightly uncharacteristic, moment. Barbra didn’t always recognize the efforts of other people who had roles in bringing her to the top. But she wasn’t all drive and self-absorbed ambition.

She could also sometimes be gentle.


In Paris, Bob was eager for news of home.

He’d asked a friend who was visiting the United States to bring him back some newspapers and magazines. Bob had been in Europe for almost two years now, and he felt out of touch. So it was with considerable excitement that he received the publications his friend had brought back. But when he got a look at the covers of Time and Life, he stopped short.

Barbra was on both of them.

His friend Barbra. The girl he’d put up on a stool to experiment with hairdos and makeup. The same Barbra who’d once talked with him for hours on the phone about her dreams and her ambitions and her favorite flavors of ice cream.

Bob was aware that Barbra had been doing well. He knew she’d cut several albums. She’d sent him copies, in fact, asking him to get them out to “influential people” in Paris. He’d given the albums to the disquaire affiliated with Chez Castel, the popular Parisian discotheque. And the last time he’d seen her, in London, Barbra was hoping to get the part in Funny Girl. Bob had heard she’d gotten it, and he was aware she’d opened on Broadway a couple of months ago, so he knew things were going great for her.

But these covers ...

Bob hadn’t been around to see the gradual climb, the Ed Sullivan and Judy Garland shows, the Cocoanut Grove, the Hollywood Bowl, the first, second, and then third albums prominently displayed in record stores. Even though he knew Barbra was doing very well for herself, Bob still had a picture of her in his mind as a little girl in pink nylons and scarlet satin shoes wandering around Greenwich Village with a shopping bag full of boas. Once that little girl had pointed up to the marquees of Broadway and told Bob she wanted her name up there someday.

Bob looked again at the face of his friend on the magazine covers. She was wearing the distinctive eye makeup he’d designed for her, that she had made her own through her inability to glue false eyelashes by herself.

He knew Barbra had become a success.

But, in fact, he’d had no idea.


Stuart Lippner was flushed with excitement. Mrs. Kind was taking him to the holiest of holies: Barbra’s dressing room.

The Winter Garden Kids burned green with envy as Stuart walked past them into the theater behind Barbra’s mother, carrying a large Tupperware container of chicken soup. The young man had been spending a great deal of time at the Kinds’ apartment. Diana often included him in meals or on outings she’d take with Rozzie. Stuart liked Mrs. Kind. She wasn’t a “come here, bubby, let me give you a hug” type, but she was very maternal in her own way, he thought, always cooking up a storm and enjoying being able to dole it out to her family. Sheldon and his wife and daughter were often there for dinner, and Stuart would take his place at the table beside Rozzie. But so far, Barbra and Elliott had never shown up, even though Mrs. Kind insisted she’d asked them.

So Diana brought the soup to Barbra instead of Barbra coming to the soup. She also brought fruit. Peaches, apples, cantaloupes. Barbra needed fruit for the vitamins they provided. She had a tendency to be anemic—her mother had not forgotten.

Watching the two of them in Barbra’s dressing room, Stuart, an outsider, saw their relationship in a way they could not. Mother and daughter seemed stuck somehow, incapable of telling each other what they really wanted to say. That there was great love there, Stuart had no doubt. He’d seen all the photographs of Barbra in Diana’s apartment. Not so many childhood photos that he could see, but eight-by-ten glossies from Columbia Records, or images carefully clipped out of magazines. Diana’s apartment was crammed with stuff—it looked as if she never threw anything away—but all Stuart had had to do was move one stack of papers to realize that most of it was all about Barbra.

Stuart would often walk in and find Diana singing along to Barbra’s albums in “a beautiful, clear soprano voice.” Rozzie had told Stuart that her mother’s father, the cantor, hadn’t let her sing at the Met. Stuart thought maybe Diana was jealous of her daughter, sometimes unconsciously and sometimes not.

It wasn’t so much that Diana had wanted to be a star, her brief dreams of the opera notwithstanding. It was that Barbra had been able to see beyond the concrete tenement walls that had penned them in and kept them back, something Diana had never been able to do. With frightening audacity, Barbra had declared that she would go through those walls and see what the world looked like on the other side. Diana had declared it an impossible dream. And when Barbra had shown that one could indeed break free, her mother had worried that she’d end up disappointed and frustrated, pushed back into her place by a world that put no stock in homely Jewish girls from Brooklyn tenements.

How could she have known how wrong she’d be?

And Diana couldn’t admit to being wrong. People who’d had to scrape and struggle all their lives were never going to find it easy to admit that the world might not be as limiting as they’d always imagined it to be.

Barbra was standing there now in her dressing room, in costume and makeup, a posse of photographers around her while an assistant did her nails. Thanking her mother for the chicken soup, she said she didn’t have time to talk. She had a show to do.

It was just like her mother to show up just before the curtain. In truth, Diana embarrassed Barbra. Her mother was “simple [and] nonintellectual,” she told the press. To observers, the two women seemed to be completely different creatures, Barbra in her duplex on Central Park West, Diana in her Brooklyn tenement. So far Diana had resisted Barbra’s offers to move her into a more fashionable apartment in Manhattan. But she had accepted a fur coat, the fulfillment of a long-ago pledge Barbra had made to herself.

Yet her mother’s gratitude seemed minimal. Diana might call and tell Barbra that “so-and-so in the office . . . read something nice” about her in some article. But it never seemed “to mean anything to her personally,” Barbra felt. That was what still stuck in her craw even after all these years.

Maybe that was why Barbra still pushed herself so hard, or at least part of the reason. And why rejection still stung. Certainly there’d been a run of rejection of late. She hadn’t won the Tony. After everyone had been telling Barbra that she was a shoo-in, Carol Channing had taken the award for Hello, Dolly!—the show for which David Merrick had dumped Funny Girl. How Ray Stark had seethed when Merrick had won Best Musical as well. No one from Funny Girl had won a damn thing—not Sydney, not Styne and Merrill, not Kay Medford, not Danny Meehan, not poor Carol Haney, even though they’d all been nominated. Hello, Dolly! pretty much crushed everybody else.

And, on top of that, Barbra hadn’t won the Emmy either. Danny Kaye had taken the award, winning over both Barbra and Judy Garland, whose show had finally been cancelled even after she’d submitted to such humiliation from network executives. It was one more lesson in the vagaries of fame, and the dangers of not being tough enough.

Barbra had come to realize that in some very real way her mother was responsible for her fighting spirit. Diana’s limited view of the world and their place in it hadn’t discouraged Barbra: It had challenged her. When all she’d heard growing up was “No, no, can’t be done,” Barbra grew determined to prove that yes, yes, it could. To one interviewer, she declared she was actually “thankful” to her mother. By not believing there was a way through to the other side of the wall, Diana had forced her obstinate, strong-willed, defiant daughter to keep chipping away, bit by bit, until she’d broken through. And so Barbra, as she bid her mother good-bye and headed out on stage to a groundswell of applause, was very pleased for all Diana had and hadn’t done.

Somewhere deep down, the teenaged Diana Rosen, the one who’d been accepted to sing with the Metropolitan Opera Chorus, was probably pleased as well.


On a warm, balmy night in June, Barbra sauntered into fashion designer Rudi Gernreich’s fashion show at the Gotham Hotel wearing a white linen suit, a white straw hat encircled by a black patent leather band, a black pullover, a rope of pearls, and silvery iridescent polish on her long nails. For a moment, everyone turned away from Gernreich’s infamous topless bathing suit to get a look at the glamorous Broadway star.

The fashionistas loved her. Not long before, Barbra had turned up for Cosmo Sirchio’s collection, amid talk she might make him her personal designer. Now Gernreich spoke of dressing Barbra for a fashion layout, maybe for Vogue or another magazine. Barbra had predicted this would happen. “I am high fashion!” she had exclaimed just last winter. “Pretty soon women will copy what I wear.”

Now they were doing just that, and it wasn’t only the Winter Garden Kids. Barbra had become a regular boldface name in Eugenia Sheppard’s fashion column. No matter that she’d also been named to the worst-dressed list by that stuffy Mr. Blackwell—below Zsa Zsa Gabor and Elizabeth Taylor but above Bette Davis and Elliott’s costar, Ginger Rogers—Barbra had become a fashion icon. If anyone doubted that fact, all they needed to do was watch the fashion writers gush over her purchase of Gernreich’s black chiffon, above-the-knee baby dress, to be worn over black tights. They knew Barbra could set the style. What they didn’t know was that, less than five years earlier, Barbra had known nothing about fashion. Terry Leong had had to explain to her the differences between Alberto Fabiani and Pauline Trigère.

Now Barbra wore all the latest designers. Money, of course, was no object, even if she still instinctively peeked at the price tags. She knew she wasn’t supposed to “ask how much things cost,” given that people were aware of how much money she made. Still, there were times when Barbra felt she needed to ask: Life could become “mushy if you don’t evaluate things sometimes,” she said. Her accountant gave her a weekly allowance of $25 for pocket money, but Barbra never spent it. She saved it, out of habit, as if she were back at the switchboard at Ben Sackheim and earmarking part of her pay for rent, part for food, and part to splurge on taxis.

To one interviewer, she tried describing how she had gotten from there to here. She’d never had a room of her own as a kid, she said. And when you don’t have a room of your own, she explained, “All you think about is ‘How can I get a room of my own?’ You just get to the point where you have to make good.”

She’d made good all right. That black designer dress, the duplex apartment, the mink coat Earl Wilson said cost twelve thousand dollars were all evidence of that. True, people still sometimes misspelled or mispronounced her name, but the instances were far fewer now. And when Barbra shopped at Bergdorf Goodman, the clerks all knew who she was.


Sitting, literally, on top of the world in her penthouse apartment, as decorators trundled expensive antique furniture through the door, Barbra looked out her windows over the treetops of Central Park. Beyond them rose the East Side peaks, and beyond those lay Brooklyn. Barbra couldn’t see it, but she knew it was there.

That morning, the Times had broken some rather big news about the star of Funny Girl. Barbra had been signed to a million-dollar television contract by CBS. Marty was crowing that he’d just negotiated the biggest deal ever made in television and offered to pay one-hundredth of that sum to anyone who could prove otherwise. Barbra’s contract allowed her to star in one one-hour special per year for the next decade, and she was guaranteed $100,000 annually. The specials could be of her choosing: comedy, variety, or musical drama. Outraged over this newcomer’s unprecedented terms, old pros like Danny Kaye and Lucille Ball unleashed their agents on the network. “The screaming,” one columnist reported, “could be heard up and down Madison Avenue.”

Three years earlier, Marty had promised to take Barbra to the top, and he had delivered. This latest coup was being hailed in the press as “nothing less than phenomenal” and garnered a rare public acknowledgment of Barbra’s “brilliant young manager.” Those who weren’t expressing envy of Barbra were asking to work with her. Carol Burnett proposed a joint special, like the one she’d done with Julie Andrews, but Barbra preferred to go it solo. She hadn’t worked this hard to share top billing.

If screaming was raging along Madison Avenue, a quiet contemplation had settled over Central Park West this morning. Sitting there looking out of her window, waiting for the clock to demand that she head downtown to play Fanny Brice for the hundred and fiftieth or hundred and sixtieth time, Barbra had begun to wonder just how long she could be happy living here. Despite all her antiques and redecoration, when she looked out over the city, all she could see was the “traffic going by.” Suddenly she was painfully aware that she “never really saw the sky.”

By the late spring of 1964, Barbra’s success, for all the envy and admiration it engendered in others, was not what she’d dreamed it would be. Despite the Donnatal, her anxieties before every performance had only worsened, and she found herself admitting that the stage fright that had been creeping up on her ever since the Hollywood Bowl was not going away. Some nights were worse than others; for one show, she bounded out in front of the audience with all her old confidence, but for another she’d be a wreck backstage. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for her fears, except that she knew interaction with people was becoming more difficult. It was seeing the faces of those watching her, judging her, and following her that left her rattled. More than ever Barbra missed her old anonymity. Critics called her arrogant, and claimed that success had gone to her head for refusing interviews or not shaking hands with fans. Only Cis, her cherished Cis, seemed to understand: “Stardom is a part of [Barbra’s] life that has always been difficult for her,” Cis tried to explain to one reporter.

What was more, Barbra hadn’t counted on her heart getting in the way of her enjoying her success. She and Elliott had settled into a sort of fun-house existence, where nothing was quite what it seemed. True, they had reconciled after their terrible winter; they were making a determined go of things. “To end the rash of rumors,” columnist Alex Freeman reported, “Barbra Streisand is neither pregnant nor unhappily married to actor Elliott Gould. The Goulds weathered their first big marital crisis recently and everything is swinging.”

Swinging. Was that the word? Despite all the hope and hype of the last few months, Elliott was still struggling to make himself known. He’d been cute in Once Upon a Mattress and witty on an episode of the topical television series That Was the Week That Was. But The Confession had been confiscated by its Jamaican financial backers; producer William Marshall was now suing to get the rights. There was no idea when, if ever, the film would be released. Trying to boost her husband, Barbra told reporters that Elliott was “going to be a big movie star,” that he was “the American Jean-Paul Belmondo.” But all the American Belmondo had on tap was a summer-stock tour of The Fantasticks with Judy Garland’s eighteen-year-old daughter, Liza Minnelli. Elliott fell deeper into analysis and found himself depending more and more on pot. His marriage to Barbra, he said in his own eccentric style, was like taking “a bath in lava.”

So when people envied her, Barbra thought, “Oh, God, don’t envy me. I have my own pains. Money doesn’t wipe that out.”

What she wanted, she said, was to see the sky.

Sitting there at her window looking down on the bleating, congested traffic of Central Park West, Barbra held in her mind an idyllic image of California’s blue skies and palm trees. Sure, sometimes the sky in Los Angeles was smoggy, but there one could live in a gated estate surrounded by trees and beautiful gardens. In Los Angeles, one traveled in limousines. There was always a protective barrier between a star and those fans who would accost her if they had a chance, unlike New York, where they could wait for her in the street, or right outside her door, or gather at the theater, jumping her every time she went in or came out.

And in Los Angeles, they made movies.

Barbra’s name was finally up on a Broadway marquee—the final destination on the roadmap to success that she’d charted for herself some five years earlier. But she’d only been able to see so far. With the brass ring now in her hand, Barbra was faced with a set of questions that had never occurred to her before. Where did she go from here? Finding herself on the summit she’d always dreamed of reaching, she looked off into the distance and spotted yet another peak waiting to be scaled. And along its craggy hills rambled one word: HOLLYWOOD.

“Being a star is being a movie star,” Barbra now declared. Movie stars didn’t have to do the same thing exactly the same way every night for two years. She had a contract to make four pictures, and she was prepared to fight Ray Stark with all of her considerable strength if necessary to make the films she wanted to make. After Funny Girl, she insisted, she was through with musicals. Didn’t people know she was an actress? That was what had set her on this path: she had wanted a chance to play Juliet. And if she couldn’t play Juliet on the stage, then maybe she could play her on the screen.

Elliott, if Barbra had asked him, might have responded that her discontent was classic, at least in psychoanalytic terms: The more one achieves, the more one wants. Someone who grew up feeling dissatisfied wasn’t going to suddenly become satisfied by the simple accumulation of things or achievements. Barbra might even have agreed with that assessment. She was “a practical person,” or at least she liked to call herself one, and she could be unsparingly honest about her own needs and motivations at times. “The dream,” she mused. “You never achieve it and that’s what’s depressing. The excitement of life lies in the hope, in the stirring for something rather than the attainment.” She lamented that she “couldn’t hold success in her hand like a hard-boiled egg.”

But how could it be otherwise, especially for her? Barbra had grown up feeling as if something were always missing. Not knowing her father had started Barbra “off on the track of always feeling resentful,” she admitted; it would leave her “always missing something” in her life. The crisis of faith she experienced once Funny Girl was on the stage led to something she couldn’t have predicted a year before. Like Elliott, Barbra surrendered to analysis, where it seemed certain that her father would be a prime topic of conversation. When she finally worked up the courage to confront her mother about why she never mentioned Emanuel’s name—why Barbra’s father had always been one of the great unspoken tensions between them—Diana replied, “I didn’t want you to miss him.” As if not speaking about him could have prevented that.

And so Barbra had no choice but to keep on climbing.

Along the way, she’d lose some of those who’d started the climb with her. The intimates dwindled to a very few. Cis, as always, was steadfast. Marty remained her chief lieutenant. But when Terry Leong tried to connect with Barbra backstage at Funny Girl, he was told she was too busy to see him. When Barry Dennen refused to hand over the tapes he’d made of her, claiming they belonged to him, Barbra threatened legal action, though she never followed through. With Peter Daniels, tensions continued to escalate, especially after Lainie Kazan went on in Barbra’s place one night during Funny Girl’s first year and alerted the press to come see her. Soon afterward, Kazan was out of the show, and Daniels wasn’t far behind. Only decades later would Barbra acknowledge her longtime accompanist’s influence and help, dedicating a concert to him. Even Bob Schulenberg fell out of Barbra’s orbit when he returned from Europe, finding he shared little in common with his old pal turned superstar.

Sitting there at her window overlooking Central Park, watching the traffic and longing for the sky, Barbra described feeling “alone with [her] thoughts” and dreading “the hour of showtime.” That first year of Funny Girl proved to be excruciating. Sydney Chaplin’s hostility only got worse, to the point where he was cursing at Barbra onstage and trying to deliberately throw her off track. In early 1965, she filed harassment charges against him with Actors’ Equity. Although the sympathetic “old boys’ club,” as Orson Bean called them, let Chaplin off after interviewing him, Barbra’s ex-lover departed the show soon after that, much to her relief, replaced by Johnny Desmond.

Later that same year, Diana finally consented to her daughter’s insistence that she move into an upscale, all-expenses-paid apartment in Manhattan. Little Rosalind would drop the weight and change her name to Roslyn and, before the decade was out, launch a career of her own as a singer, headlining at nightclubs and enduring comparisons with her more famous sister. Diana told friends she felt Rozzie was by far the more talented of the two.

Arguments and separations continued to mark the marriage of Barbra and Elliott, but they strove to stay together, even having a baby, Jason, in December 1966. But after a couple more years, they finally called it quits and were divorced in 1971. Only after splitting with Barbra did Elliott’s career take off again. He became a top box-office movie star with Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and M*A*S*H, among others. Still, as successful as he became, Elliott never considered himself “larger than life” in the way he saw Barbra. Looking back on all he and his former wife had been through, Elliott had to wonder why anyone would want to “make themselves into something that wasn’t real.”

What Barbra had made herself into was a movie star. After two long, tedious years on the stage in Funny Girl, both on Broadway and in London, Barbra turned her back on the theater and went to Hollywood, where she starred in the film version of Funny Girland won an Oscar for doing so. Within a few years, she was the biggest female movie star in the world, and by now, no one was surprised. She did relent and make more musical films—people were always clamoring for her to sing—but she also got to play the kinds of parts she’d always wanted, glamorous women and complex characters, even if, to date, she still has never played Juliet or Medea. But she did get to play Dolly Levi, and Daisy Gamble, and Esther Hoffman, and Katie in The Way We Were. And with all those profits she fashioned herself a palace overlooking the Pacific Ocean that provided her with plentiful views of the sky.

Working with Ray Stark, as Barbra anticipated, wasn’t easy, and the battles with her mercurial producer continued. When, in 1974, she had finally fulfilled her four-picture contract with him (Funny Girl, The Owl and the Pussycat, The Way We Were, and Funny Lady, once more putting on Fanny Brice’s cloche hats), Barbra presented Stark with an antique mirror on which she had scrawled in lipstick Paid in full. Yet for all the frustrations and bitterness she carried, she still recognized that without Stark’s early championship she might not have come as far as she had, or at least she would have needed to have taken a very different route.

Of course, it wasn’t enough to simply remain a successful actress, so Barbra became a director, starting in 1983 with Yentl, and won accolades for her work. She kept on recording, too, staying relevant by making a successful transition to rock-pop with the Stoney End album in 1971. She ended up with more Top Ten albums than any other female artist in history—fifty-one of them gold, thirty platinum, and thirteen multiplatinum. And then it wasn’t enough to just sing her songs, but she had to write them, too. Barbra won another Oscar for her composition of “Evergreen” for A Star Is Born. With a special Tony for theatrical excellence, Barbra had made good on her goal to win all four major showbiz awards. From that old doubter, Sheilah Graham, nothing was heard.

And, at last, after many ups and downs, there seemed to be some personal fulfillment, too. In 1996 Barbra met James Brolin and married him two years later. They are still together.

All of her childhood dreams had come true, and on her own terms. But as the years went on, the older Streisand seemed less genuine, less spontaneous, and more guarded than the girl of that first half decade. Barbra’s fear of not being as good as people claimed she was—or not being as good as she was on her last record or in her last film—only magnified as she aged. She found herself holding back more, no longer giving her all when she sang. “You must only give three-quarters,” she explained. “Five eighths.” Giving one’s all, Barbra believed, exposed a desperate need to be loved by the public, and she wasn’t desperate for that, not if that meant letting the public in too close. After all, giving one’s all was what Judy Garland had done, and Judy was dead, burned out, at the age of forty-seven. So increasingly Barbra withheld parts of herself, leaving her audiences always wanting more. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, emotionally or strategically, since it kept people coming back. But it did make some people nostalgic for that young singer who’d so fearlessly exposed the empty place in the middle of her heart every time she got up to sing.

Of course, Streisand had always been made of stronger stuff than Garland. From the time she was very young, Barbra had seen and heard things beyond the range of mere mortals; she had understood her own specialness. “I have visions in my head,” she said, looking back and trying to explain the unexplainable—the drive that had always propelled her forward. “I hear music. I dream.”

She had needed to be great—great enough to transcend the boring, the quotidian, the desultory Brooklyn afternoons. That was why she had started to climb and what would keep her scaling the heights. In her striving, there was a message, and it said, “Keep on.” If Garland was the goddess of self-destruction and vulnerability, Streisand was the diva of self-confidence and strength—as well as of a certain kind of magic, one that can elevate the everyday and transform even an ordinary kid into a star.

“Her performances astound, arouse, fulfill,” Jerry Robbins had declared. Watching Barbra move across the stage in Funny Girl, he had glimpsed potential still untapped. “She is still forming. There is more to come, things will change, something will happen. The next is not going to be like the last.”

Sitting there in her duplex penthouse, with showtime looming, Barbra cast one last glance over the treetops of Central Park and pulled herself away from the window.

Down on the street, a car waited to take her to the theater. Stony-faced, Barbra rushed past the fans who waited, as always, along the curb. Suddenly one young man shouted, “Keep on daring to dream, Barbra!”

For once Barbra stopped. Somehow the words had penetrated the invisible armor she always wore in public. For the first time that her fans could recall, their heroine turned to look at them. They were surprised to see a little smile blooming on her face. “You can count on that,” Barbra said.

Then she got into the car and sped away.

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