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Tag: Barbra Streisand

Reflections on Barbra Streisand’s Autobiography “My Name Is Barbra”

James Brolin & Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand & Husband James Brolin.

  • Has unresolved issues about her mother.
  • Has issues regarding a “father figure.”
  • Somewhat downplays the gift her voice has been to her life path.
  • Seems to have OCD tendencies, even as to placement of flowers.
  • Naturally curious.
  • Seems to have built a “family” from those she found more supportive of her.
  • Takes a few swipes at good old “Marty” (her manager),and at Mandy Patimken and others. Seems to want to portray herself as someone who others were constantly seeking for intimacy, yet she doesn’t share much about her “lovers.” In fact, she seems to be rather coy about whether or not a certain famous individual was or was not someone with whom she shared physical intimacy.
  • James Newton Howard seems to re-surface as someone who had a crush on her.
  • The Jon Peters guy sounds like a real shyster and opportunist, and that seems to have been how he was viewed by the Hollywood community, as well.
  • Loyalty to Prince—now King—Charles and to Pierre Trudeau. Probably explains her views on Meghan Markle, recently articulated.
  • Doesn’t say much about Elliott Gould, with whom she shares her son, Jason. Kind of implies that they just drifted apart, he wasn’t good-looking enough, and he had a gambling problem and possibly a drug problem later in life. Discusses Jason’s homosexuality in passing and claims he has a phenomenal voice. Jason is now 58 years old and, while he did release an album some years ago and sang with his mother on one of her tours, he doesn’t seem to have done much creating, musically speaking.
  • Seems to have found a man in James Brolin who can take her independent attitude in stride.
  • Starred or appeared in 19 films, but sounds like she is done.
  • Music seems to be the thing that she might continue doing to the bitter end, a la Tony Bennett, especially if it doesn’t involve touring or appearing in person.
  • Very detail oriented, to the point that would drive many people insane. (Lighting, rewriting lyrics, etc.). She actually requested that famous songwriters like Stephen Sondheim rewrite song lyrics for various reasons and other “pushy” things.
  • Tells some interesting stories about her famous friends (Donna Karan is one, Prince Charles, Secretary of State Madeline Albright, the Clintons) but doesn’t really dish much new dirt. Before I read the book, the Big Story seemed to be her rejecting Mandy Patimkin as a potential fling, saying she did not find him attractive. The truth hurts, but good for you, Barbara. [Nobody finds Mandy Patimkin attractive.]

    Mandy Patimken.

*Barbra’s father, Emmanuel Streisand, died at 35 and she was told by her cold mother that she kept waiting for him to return for days, sitting by the window. In her own words, “In some ways, I’m still waiting.”

*Her book is dedicated this way:  “This book is dedicated to the father I never knew, and the mother I did…” She, basically, says she loved her mother but she didn’t “like” her. Her mother seems to have had serious jealousy issues about Barbra’s phenomenal success and hurt her many times, both intentionally and unintentionally. Fortunately, Babs bonded with many women who were older than she is and they served as “surrogate” mothers. One of the more famous was Bill Clinton’s mother.

*She talks about how she doesn’t really take care of her voice and doesn’t like to warm up, etc. She also has crippling stage fright, brought on by having forgotten the words to a song while performing at a free concert in Central Park.

*Outspoken – Recently, Babs came out swinging against Megan Markle. She criticized everything about the woman, from her acting prowess to her relationship with the Royal Family. It has made all the tabloids and seems to be a throwback to her great friendship with King Charles and loyalty to him. Barbara doesn’t say that she and Charles had “a fling,” but she tells a semi-racy story about his dog coming in to get in bed with her one morning when she is visiting England.

Barbra Streisand with her only child, Jason Gould (age 58).

Jason Gould and Mom Barbra Streisand.

*The Jon Peters romance (he was her hairdresser) was one of the chapters in her life that she attributes to her “hippy” phase. He sounds like a real piece of work! He is portrayed in the movie “Licorice Pizza” and it isn’t pretty. He did rise to become the head of a studio, but he sounds like a real insecure opportunist. One thing that attracted her to him was that they both had sons about the same age.

*Barbra seems to have a fairly ruthless way of dealing with disloyalty. In her own words, “When I’m done with something, I’m done!” She describes cutting Agent Sue Mengers out of her life when she suspected that the woman had leaked some things to the media.

*She reveals that she has heard weird noises in her head since childhood.

*Several times in the book Barbra repeats this line from George Bernard Shaw’s play “St. Joan:” “It is an old saying that he who tells too much truth is sure to be hanged.” She also says, “I’ve always believed in telling the truth, but it has gotten me in trouble over the years.” We saw Barbra in concert in Chicago right before a presidential election and her remarks to the audience supportive of the Democratic candidate caused the couple next to us to yell (loudly), “Just shut up and sing.” I happen to agree with most of her political opinions, so I’m not one of the MAGA crowd who would be this rude. It was an “okay” concert, but it was not the Experience of a Lifetime I had hoped it might be, as I had been a fan for years.

*The book goes down easy and is a good read, but she goes into detail after detail after detail about every outfit she ever wore in her life, which reminded me of my own dear mother, who resembled Barbra’s mom in that she was not one to praise or express warm, fuzzy things, but I have tried to understand her chilly treatment of me in light of her own career and its demands. Barbra has had years of therapy and she tries to be even-handed about her mother’s indifference or jealousy towards her.

There is no question that Barbra Streisand is a formidable talent. She is a lot. I love her singing; I like most of her movies, so I enjoyed reading the behind-the-scenes stuff but I felt she put entirely too much time describing every outfit she ever wore in her life and casting herself in the most positive light possible, with all kinds of effusive notes of praise and uber-flattering photos.


What Do Nicole Kidman, Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand Have in Common?

Nicole-KidmanThe answer? They lead the list of The 10 Worst Actor/Actress Onscreen Pairings

It is going to become painfully obvious that I have spent waaay too much time in a darkened theater as I share with you some horrible screen pairings it has been my misfortune to suffer through, first as an avid filmgoer since birth and second, as a film critic for 15 years. These are in no particular order, and the reasons I feel these were horrible pairings are subjective, to be sure, but let me begin.

In no particular order, the films are:

1)  “The Human Stain” – Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman

2)  “Eyes Wide Shut” – Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman

3)  “Dracula” – Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder

4)  “Harold and Maude” – Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort

5)  “The Way We Were” – Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand

6)  “The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea” – Kris Kristofferson and Sarah Miles

7)  “6 Days, 7 Nights” – Harrison Ford and Anne Heche

8)       “Fair Game” – Billy Baldwin and Cindy Crawford

9)      “A Star Is Born” – Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson

10)   “At Long Last Love” – Cybill Shpeherd and Burt Reynolds

Let me explain.

There are some very great actors/actresses on this list who, nevertheless, had absolutely no onscreen chemistry with their leading man or leading lady. Sometimes, I fear, it is because that actor (or actress) is simply better suited to character actor parts. Other times, it is quite surprising, because the individuals in question were actually “an item.”

Take Nicole Kidman on this list, for example. I have listed her starring role in Stanley Kubrick’s last complete film, “Eyes Wide Shut,” where she starred opposite her then husband Tom Cruise as Alice Hartford (1999). I have also listed her opposite the much-too-old-for-her Anthony Hopkins in her role as the semi-literate Faunia Farley, opposite Anthony Hopkins’ Coleman Silk in “The Human Stain,” a 2003 Robert Benton-directed film (script by Nick Meyer, an old college classmate) based on a 2000 Philip Roth novel. Casting Anthony Hopkins as a (secretly) black man and Nicole Kidman as a cleaning woman (semi-literate, as well) was just the beginning of this film that garnered some “rotten tomato” awards. It was as thoroughly miscast as it is humanly possible to be, and the premises upon which the film rested were also dated. (Coleman is railroaded from his job as a university professor for asking, of some MIA African-American students, in his class, if they were “spooks.”) The idea that Welshman Hopkins is secretly black was hard to swallow. (The younger version of Hopkins was well-played by “Prison Break’s” Wentworth Miller, but even that did not help.) But Nicole was also bad opposite Tom Cruise as Shannon Christie in the 1992 epic “Far and Away” and even before that, in “Days of Thunder” in 1990. Let’s face it. While Nicole Kidman (and certainly Anthony Hopkins) are great actors, everyone has their limits, and when you’re miscast, you’re miscast. Since three of these films involve Kidman opposite Tom Cruise, it would seem that they were a mismatch in more ways than one. No onscreen chemistry. Zip. Zero. Nada.

Second-highest scorer on the “no charisma as sexy lead player in a romance” might go to Gary Oldman, who is a very competent character actor but lacks in the romance department. Following Frank Langella’s mesmerizing role as “Dracula,” he was very disappointing opposite Winona Ryder in that Francis Ford Coppola film, and he wasn’t much better in “The Scarlet Letter” (1995) opposite Demi Moore as the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, nor in the film “Romeo Is Bleeding” (1993) as Jack, opposite the sexy Lena Olin. Where Oldman shines is in work such as his spot-on impersonation of Lee Harvey Oswald in Oliver Stone’s 1991 film “JFK.” As a romantic leading man? Not so much.

Barbra Streisand makes the list twice, once opposite Kris Kristofferson in “A Star Is Born” and once opposite Robert Redford in “The Way We Were.” I blame the lack of “sparks” more on Kristofferson in the first, a role that was first offered to (but turned down by) Elvis Presley. Kristofferson has all the charismatic acting ability of a board. He reminds me of an old Keanu Reeves. This is also by way of explaining why “The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea” floundered and sank. More Kristofferson; less Sarah Miles.  In “The Way We Were” Streisand/Redford proved that the ugly duckling does not always grow up to become the beautiful swan, and that the saying, “opposites attract” can only carry you so far. It only carried this movie so far, despite Marvin Hamlisch’s best efforts.

“Harold and Maude” is a cult classic, and I loved the flick, but the plot is about a romance between a 20-year-old youth obsessed with death and suicide (Bud Cort) and a 79-year-old woman, played by the indomitable Ruth Gordon. I’m all for cougars, but there are limits.

“6 Days, 7 Nights” was a plot that paired  Harrison Ford with Anne Heche, who, at the time, was an ‘out” lesbian. There were absolutely no sparks of any kind between the leads and do we wonder why? Harrison Ford recreating Humphrey Bogart’s role opposite Julia Ormond in “Sabrina” (with Greg Kinnear in the William Holden role) was also not  a hit, although the film’s score was awesome.

“Fair Game” had William Baldwin (the thin Baldwin) cast as Detective Max Kirkpatrick and model Cindy Crawford of Dekalb, Illinois trying to segue successfully to the big screen from her lucrative modeling career, playing Kate McQuean. The film is horrible, and Crawford was awful in it.

Last, and perhaps least, Burt Reynolds and Cybill Shepherd somehow got the idea that they could sing and carry a musical in the much-maligned “At Long Last Love” and the less said about that, the better.

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