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Barbra Streisand Full Name: Barbra Joan Streisand
Occupation: Actress, Singer, Director, Producer
Date of Birth: April 24, 1942
Place of Birth: Brooklyn, N.Y., USA
Sign: Sun in Taurus, Moon in Leo
Parents: Diana and Emanuel Streisand
Ex-Husband: Elliot Gould, actor; married March 21, 1963; divorced 1971
Son: Jason Gould, actor; born December 29, 1966; played Streisand's son in The Prince of Tides
Stepsister: Roslyn Kind, singer; married to Randy Stone for two years
Husband: James Brolin, actor; married July 2, 1998
Education: Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, NY; Honarary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Brandeis University ('95)
Fan Mail: C/O International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly hills, CA 90211
Or: C/O 160 West 96th Street, Suite 8S, New York, NY 10025
Official Web Site:
Click here for a list of her awards received over the years.

When asked why she performs, Streisand has indicated that it is not for the money. "I have enough money, thank God, and the only reason I want it is to give it away. There's nothing more I need," she told the New York Times in 1983.

Barbra as a young girl Barbra Streisand was born Barbara Joan Streisand in Brooklyn, New York, on April 24, 1942. Her parents, Emanuel and Diana Streisand, were elated at having a daughter, who came to them seven years after their son, Sheldon, was born. However, none of them could have known the tragedy that lay ahead.

Manny Streisand was an athletic man with boundless energy, well-liked by all who knew him, loved his family deeply and would have done anything for them. After the arrival of his new daughter in 1942, he decided to take on a summer job as a counselor at Camp Cascade in Highmount, New Yor, to help cover the extra expenses a new child would demand.

Diana was apprehensive about his new position from the moment he took on the job; it meant packing up the whole family and spending the entire season in the Catskill mountains, far away from the Brooklyn flat she loved. More importantly, the job would be very strenuous for her 35 year old husband. Although apparently healthy on the outside, Manny had been involved in a car accident in 1930 after their wedding, which left him with chronic headaches. He would have epileptic seizures, which the doctor had warned could happen again at any time. After Manny began his job, his headaches became more and more intense. One day, the headaches were so bad that he passed out. A few hours later, he was pronounced dead. And on that August afternoon in 1943, little Barbara's life was changed forever.

Barbra as a young girl A distraught and penniless Diana moved into her parents' small apartment on Pulaski Street in Brooklyn with her two children. There was no living room and no couch. Barbra would later recall, "Couches were to me, like, what rich people had". Worse, Sheldon later related, "There was no love in that house." Diana was so traumatized by the death of her husband that she was unable to express anything but grief. Barbra later said, "Emotionally, my mother left me at the same time (as my father)."

Barbra found all sorts of ways to entertain herself while her mother buried herself in work. She played tea party and dress-up. She spent hours experimenting with her mother's makeup. She spent hours singing in the halls of her apartment building. "Barbra started to sing as early as she could talk," her mother recalled. While some neighbors were annoyed, others were delighted.

When Barbra started school, she discovered television, at her friend's house. This opened her eyes to a world of laughter and excitement, a world that was the complete opposite of her own. This provided one of her earliest inspirations to become an actress.

During the summer of 1949, Barbra was sent off to Hebrew health camp, but traumatic as the experience was, it was nothing compared to what happened during camp. Her mother, then forty, had been dating and began looking to remarry. Barbra hated all the suitors and cried vehemently when they came to pick Diana up, fearing her mother would never return. So when one of her mothr's suitors, Louis Kind, accompanied her mother to camp that summer, Barbra threw an ugly tantrum when they packed up to leave, refusing to let her mother go without her. Her omther finally acquiesed and the three of them drove back in complete silence.

Despite Louis' efforts to win Barbra over, the little girl refused to accept him. However, although Louis continued to pursue Diana, marriage did not seem to be on his agenda. Even when Diana announced that she was pregnant by him, he balked at marrying her. He had obtained a divorce from his first wife, but did not want to jump into another marriage. When Diana's father heard about the pregnancy, he kicked his daughter and her two children out of his house. Diana moved her family into a one bedroom apartment in the Vanderver Estates in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn. The complex was cold and ugly, but the rent was cheap.

Finally, in December of 1950, when Diana was nine months pregnant, Louis changed his mind and agreed to marry her. A couple of weeks later, Diana gave birth to a daughter by Louis and they named her Rosalind. While Louis doted on Raosalind, every other aspect of the marriage was a disaster from the outset. He refused to support his family financially, claiming he had no money. He fought bitterly with Diana whenever he returned from his trips and he verbally abused both Barbra and Sheldon, disparaging Barbra's looks both in private and in front of her friends. In time, he began to abuse Diana physically on a regular basis.

With her half sister, Roslyn Kind Barbra lapsed into her own world and her hypochondria intensified. She was convinced at one time that she had cancer, at another time, a heart condition. She developed tinnitus (a ringing in the ears) and wore scarves around her head to try to block out the sound.

Her fantasy world continued, she would spend hours in front of the television, the one thing good that came with Louis' arrival, and would mimic the actor and actresses, dreaming of the glamorous lives of the stars. She experimented with her mothers' makeup and elegantly lit and smoked her mother's cigarettes. And she sang, in the halls of her apartment building, in school and anywhere she could. By the time she was ten, she was doggedly set on being a performer. Her entertainment aspirations were known to the few new friends she made in her new school (where she was sent after her mother could no longer afford to send her to yeshiva school). Even back then, one of her friends recalled "she was very intense about it".

While her mother balked at her little girl's aspirations to go into show business, primarily because she thought her daughter wasn't pretty enough, little Barbra was adamant. She took ballet for six months, sang and danced in a hotel talent show and even auditioned for the Metro Goldwyn Mayer motion picture studio, where they were looking for kiddie talent. When they offered Barbra a place in their training classes, Diana refused to let her daughter participate because there was no pay. She did however let Barbra enter a talent contest while on summer vacation at a hotel in the Catskill mountains. Barbra won the contest and so impressed the hotel guests that two of them asked her to sing at their weddings for a small salary. "Y'see, Ma," Barbra proclaimed, "I can make money at this!"

With the Choys years later at the premiere of In September 1955, Barbra entered Erasmus High School in Brooklyn, which had a freshman class of thirteen hundred students. Erasmus Hall was known for its superior academic standards, and Barbra, who had been a member of PS89's Intellectually Gifted Opportunity Program, was put directly into the honors classes. She excelled academically in the first half of her freshman year, with a grade point average in the top three percent of her class. Socially, however, she didn't fit in. Her classmates called her a "loner" and "aloof" and her homeroom teacher said she was "self-centered". While she did make a few good friends at Earsmus Hall, she made no real effort at being popular with her fellow students. She had other things on her mind. One of those things was her part time job at a Chinese Restaurant owned by Mr and Mrs Choy, where she clothed herself in silk kimonos and grew her nails long painting them bright red. Till today, her fabulous long nails have remained one her trademarks. Mrs Choy became close to Barbra and answered her questions about love, life and sex, questions Barbra could never have asked her own mother. The Choys were the first people who captured Barbra on film. In a home movie of a birthday party, Barbra covers her face and ducks every time a camera turns to her.

Though Barbra was not active in extracurricular activities in her school, there was one group she was adamant about being involved with: the Erasmus Choral Club. The chorus accepted only the most taleneted students and was led by the dashing Cosimo DePietto, whom Barbra, as well as many other girls, had a crush on. Barbra auditioned twice for the choir in the space of several months, and was twice rejected. "I never knew her to have any particular or outstanding talent." De Pietto said years later. Still, with her charismatic determination, Barbra was bound to be accepted. She took up an offer she had had from a pianist at the Catskills Hotel to record a professional tape of her singing. With the tape complete, she again approaced De Pietto, who finally accepted her into the choir. However, she was put into the last row and never allowed a solo. She quit after two years, partly because of De Pietto's inability to recognize her talent, but mostly because she had moved on to far more challenging endeavors.

In April 1956, Barbra had an inspirational experience when her mother allowed her to go into Manhattan for her fourteenth birthday to see a production of "The Diary of Anne Frank". Barbra was so moved by the performance that she had a new plan. "I could play Anne Frank" she told her mother. Determined to be an actress, Barbra immediately began auditioning. She auditioned for the leading role in Otto preminger's film version of Bernard Shaw's play "Saint Joan". While the casting people said her reading was excellent, Preminger gave the role to the typically beautiful Jean Seberg. Barbra was devastated. Her mother's idea that Barbra could never make it as an actress because she was not good-looking enough was confirmed by this incident and she began to actively dissuade her daughter from further pursuing an acting career.

In the meantime, Diana's life was again in upheaval. She and Louis divorced and although Diana was awarded some money in the settlement, it wasn't nearly enough. Barbra had to make do with unstylish clothing and babysit her little half-sister, Rosalind, while her mother went to work. While Rosalind was chubby and cute, Barbra felt skinny and plain.

With her mother again at work, Barbra was free to spend her time as she pleased, and much was spent at the movies. She again indulged in her fantasy world of glamor and stardom. And she continued to pursue the acting career that her mother was so opposed to. Barbra got accepted into a year-round apprenticeship program at Cherry Lane Theater, which she did not even tell her mother she was auditioning for. Her mother allowed her to participate only after Barbra promised to keep her grades up at school, which she did.

During her internship, she met Allan Miller, a Manhattan acting coach. He labeled Barbra's audition as the worst he had ever seen, but was drawn to her because of her enthusiasm, inquisitiveness and forceful personality. She became very close to Allan Miller and his wife Anita, who was also an actress. Barbra became involved with her first boyfriend, Roy Scott, with whom she had her first sexual experience. When Diana found out, she became hysterical with disapproval. She called the Millers and accused them of ruining her daughter's life and even called Scott's parent's to voice her dismay. Scott later recalled, "Her mother tried to coontrol her too much. And yes, it hurt [our] relationship."

At seventeen years old, Barbra got her first acting job in Manhattan. She was cast as the tough 35 year old Lorna, playing opposite a young Joan Rivers (then Joan Molinsky). The play, "Driftwood" was directed by a young 17 year old and garnered not a single review, and closed after only 6 weeks. During "Driftwood", Barbra graduated from High School, with the 4th best grade average in her class, but despite her strong academics, and her mother's badgering, Barbra had no interest in college.

Instead, just weeks after graduation, she packed her bags and moved to Manhattan, where she could wholeheartedly pursue her dream of stardom. Her dream was not long in coming true. She took all the obstacles her mother saw - her unconventional looks, her quirky personality and her unique way of dressing - and turned them to her advantage. While Barbra was intent on acting, it was her amazing vocal gift that first thrust her into the New York performance scene. At the age of eighteen, she was already stunning audiences at clubs like the Lion and the Bon Soir in Manhattan, the Caucus Club in Detroit and the Crystal Palace in St Louis, as well as appearing regularly on "PM East", Mike Wallace's late night television talk/variety show. Barbra was such a hit in New York's gay community that whenever she appeared on the show, gay clubs would offer two-for-one drinks.

She changed the spelling of her name, eliminating the second unpronounced vowel, and in doing so, made it unique. She also met Marty Erlichman, and although the two never signed a contract and worked separately for nearly ten years (between 1977 and 1986) he still remains her manager today. After a few uninspiring efforts, Erlichman continued to believe in Barbra, and Barbra in herself. He secured an audition for her for a new Broadway musical called "I Can Get It For You Wholesale". This audition was what sent Barbra skyrocketing into stardom at an astounding pace, astounding to everyone but Marty Erlichman.

Text above is adapted from the following books. Sincere appreciation and thanks.

Her Name Is Barbra - by Randall Riese.
Streisand: the intimate biography - by James Spada.
Streisand: the pictorial biography - by D.Harvey and J.Harvey.

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