My Name Is Barbra

My Name Is Barbra

by Barbra Streisand
My Name Is Barbra

My Name Is Barbra

by Barbra Streisand

Hardcover

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Overview

Notes From Your Bookseller

Happy days are here again! EGOT, icon and the funny girl herself shares her story — from Brooklyn to Broadway to Brolin, and everything in between.

The long-awaited memoir by the superstar of stage, screen, recordings, and television

Barbra Streisand is by any account a living legend, a woman who in a career spanning six decades has excelled in every area of entertainment. She is among the handful of EGOT winners (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) and has one of the greatest and most recognizable voices in the history of popular music. She has been nominated for a Grammy 46 times, and with Yentl she became the first woman to write, produce, direct, and star in a major motion picture. In My Name Is Barbra, she tells her own story about her life and extraordinary career, from growing up in Brooklyn to her first star-making appearances in New York nightclubs to her breakout performance in Funny Girl on stage and winning the Oscar for that performance on film. Then came a long string of successes in every medium in the years that followed. The book is, like Barbra herself, frank, funny, opinionated, and charming. She recounts her early struggles to become an actress, eventually turning to singing to earn a living; the recording of some of her acclaimed albums; the years of effort involved in making Yentl; her direction of The Prince of Tides; her friendships with figures ranging from Marlon Brando to Madeleine Albright; her political advocacy; and the fulfillment she’s found in her marriage to James Brolin.
 
No entertainer’s memoir has been more anticipated than Barbra Streisand’s, and this engrossing and delightful book will be eagerly welcomed by her millions of fans.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525429524
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/07/2023
Pages: 992
Sales rank: 746
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.20(h) x 2.00(d)

About the Author

Barbra Streisand is an American singer, actress, director and producer and one of the most iconic figures in music and film, the only recording artist in history to have earned #1 albums over six consecutive decades. She has received the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Kennedy Center Honor, the National Medal of Arts, France’s Légion d’Honneur, and America’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She founded The Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai, helping to raise awareness and push for more research into women’s heart disease, the leading cause of death among women. Through the Streisand Foundation, which she established in 1986, she has supported national organizations working on preservation of the environment, voter education, the protection of civil liberties and civil rights, women’s issues, and nuclear disarmament. In 2021 she launched the Barbra Streisand Institute at UCLA, a forward-thinking institution dedicated to finding solutions to the most vital social issues.

Read an Excerpt

An “amiable anteater”? That’s how I was described at nineteen in one of my first reviews as a professional actress. I was in I Can Get It for You Wholesale, playing a lovelorn secretary, and I could see the comparison . . . sort of.

Over the next year, I was also called “a sour persimmon,” “a furious hamster,” “a myopic gazelle,” and “a seasick ferret.”

Yikes. Was I really that odd-­looking?

Only a year later, when I was in my second Broadway show, Funny Girl, my face was exactly the same, but now I was being compared to “an ancient oracle,” “Nefertiti,” and “a Babylonian queen.” I must say I loved those descriptions. Apparently I also had a “Pharaonic profile and scarab eyes.” I think that was supposed to be a compliment, though I have to admit one of those eyes does look cross-­eyed at times . . . and it seems like the Pharaoh also had a big schnoz. People kept telling me, “Get it fixed.” (I bet no one said that to him.)

But sometimes I’ll just pick up a magazine in the dentist’s office, for example. (I happen to like going to the dentist, because I love how my teeth feel after they’re cleaned. It’s also an hour of peace with no phone calls.) Once when I was waiting, I saw a story about Neil Diamond, who was a grade ahead of me at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn. Actually it was about his brother, who’d invented some crazy bathtub that had a stereo system and all sorts of electronic gadgets (perfect . . . for getting electrocuted). And it’s not cheap . . . fourteen thousand dollars! I’m thinking, Who would ever buy such a thing? And then I read that I’m one of his customers! I didn’t even know my friend Neil had a brother, and now I’m being used to sell his bathtub?!

That’s irritating, but other stories cut deep. One night, my dear friend Andrzej Bartkowiak, a brilliant cinematographer who did two films and a documentary with me, came over for dinner. (Actually, he was cooking, because I’m a hazard in the kitchen. I can burn water.)

Andrzej had been to see his friend earlier (a medical doctor, by the way) and happened to mention that he was having dinner with me. The doctor said, “I hear she’s a bitch.”

“What?” said Andrzej. “What are you talking about?”

“She’s impossible to work with.”

“That’s ridiculous. Have you ever worked with her?”

“No.”

“Well, I have . . . three times . . . and she’s wonderful to work with. In fact, she’s a very nice person.”

“No, she isn’t. She’s a bitch. I read it in a magazine!

That’s the power of the printed word.

And there was no hope of changing this man’s mind. He chose to believe some writer who had never met me, rather than the person who really knows me. That upsets me deeply. Why couldn’t he accept the truth?

For forty years, publishers have been asking me to write my autobiography. But I kept turning them down, because I prefer to live in the present rather than dwell on the past. And the fact is, I’m scared that after six decades of people  making up stories about me, I’m going to tell the truth, and nobody is going to believe it.

Recently, my husband, Jim, and I were driving home from a movie and stopped at the supermarket because I suddenly had a craving for coffee ice cream. We walked into the market holding hands, and a man came up behind us and said, in a loud voice, “I’m so happy to see you back together!”

Back together? When were we apart? Did my husband move out and I some‑ how failed to notice?

You see, I like facts. I have great respect for facts, and the idea of just making something up really bothers me.

So I finally said yes to writing this book, after dancing around the idea for ages. I actually wrote the first chapter back in the 1990s, in longhand with an erasable pen . . . and then lost it. Now I wish I knew how to type, because once I started again it took another ten years, since I still have other commitments, like making records, and besides, I get really bored with myself. I’m trying to recall things that happened a long time ago. (Thank God for the journals I’ve kept, which have been invaluable.) And then sometimes I realize that I haven’t been remembering the full story and have to dig deeper, no matter where it leads . . .

I wanted to be an actress ever since I was a child . . . maybe from the moment I was taken to my first movie, and stood up on the seat so I could see the screen. Still, it’s amazing that my dream came true, and I’m very grateful to all the people who helped me along the way.

They say that success changes a person, but I think it actually makes you more of who you really are. Frankly, I think I’m rather ordinary. I just happened to be born with a good voice, and then I guess there was something about my looks, my personality, whatever talent I had that intrigued people (or annoyed them). I know I ask a lot of questions. I have a lot of opinions, and I say what I think . . . and sometimes that gets me into a lot of trouble.

I’m not a very social person. I don’t like to get dressed up and go out. I’d rather stay home with my husband and my dogs. Sometimes we’ll invite family and friends over for dinner and a movie, or to play games like Rummikub, backgammon, or hearts. (I also play every night on my phone in the dark before I go to sleep, to clear my head of all the stress of the day.) I love painting with my son, Jason (he’s much better than I am) . . . I can spend hours taking photographs in my garden . . . and because I don’t go out much, I forget who I am to the outside world.

Which reminds me of something. Recently I was going to the dentist (to get my teeth cleaned again), and while I was waiting for the elevator, I noticed this woman staring at me. So I moved away, but she didn’t stop. I thought, Why is she still staring? Did I spill something on myself?

And then I realized, Oh yeah . . . I’m what’s her name.

I think it’s time to dispel the myths about that creature.

And that’s why I’m writing this book . . . because I feel an obligation to the people who are truly interested in my work, and the process behind the work, and perhaps the person behind the process.

So, here goes . . .

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