Hello, Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand
William J. Mann
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In 1960, she was a seventeen-year-old Brooklyn kid with plenty of talent but no connections and certainly no money; her mother brought her soup to make sure she stayed fed as she took acting classes and scraped out a living. Just four years later, Barbra Streisand was the top-selling female recording artist in America and the star of one of Broadway’s biggest hits. Now the acclaimed Hollywood biographer William Mann chronicles that dizzying ascent, telling the riveting behind-the-scenes story of how Streisand and her team transformed her from an unknown dreamer into a worldwide superstar.
Drawing on the private papers of Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse, and interviewing scores of the friends and lovers who knew Barbara before she became Barbra, Mann recreates the vanished world of 1960s New York City and uncovers the truth behind the myths of her formative years. He shows us how Funny Girl was slowly altered, by Fosse and Robbins among others, from a Fanny Brice bio into a star-making vehicle for Streisand; takes us into the clubs and onto the set for her early nightclub and television appearances, including her torch-handing turn with Judy Garland; and introduces the canny marketing team whose strategies made her stardom seem inevitable. The Streisand who emerges is a revelation: a young woman who, for all her tough-skinned ambition, was surprisingly vulnerable in love.
Everyone who has felt outside the gate, as she once did, remembers a time when the newness and difference of Barbra Streisand changed everything and rewrote all the rules. In Hello, Gorgeous, Mann incisively illuminates the woman before she became the icon and pays tribute to one of the world’s most beloved performers.
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
Barré’s shoulder. Neither of them spoke a word on the way home. 3. The two of them together produced more noise than Grand Central Station during rush hour. A flurry of silk scarves trailed behind Barbra and Phyllis Diller as they made their way across Union Square, their voices ricocheting through the park like competing bursts of gunfire. Pigeons took flight as the two women hurried toward the statue of George Washington on his horse, Phyllis’s cackle rising up into the trees, where the
about her looks, even if she pretended not to be. Gruber tried boosting her up as best he could. “You’re great,” he told her. “You’re going to be great. It takes time.” Obviously her talent had already trumped her tardiness, for Gruber had just given Barbra a new contract, extending her run through April and raising her salary to $150 a week. But there was likely more to the “depression” Gruber witnessed than any of them knew. While Barbra was running around Detroit talking to radio stations and
them “her family on the road.” But the most intimate connection was with Tommy. Four months after her breakup with Barré, Barbra’s heartbreak was finally healing—at least enough to respond when a man flirted with her. And to her great surprise, she had flirted back. Finally, it seemed, she was learning a little of those “feminine wiles.” Twenty-four-year-old Tom Smothers was the comic to his brother Dick’s straight man, often playing dim or naïve, when, in fact, he was as sharp as a tack,
Barbra scolded Wallace for failing to give a plug for Stoones, which was opening soon. “You forgot to mention the play I’m in,” she said, shouting over the host to give the name of the theater and the opening date. After all, the whole reason she appeared on PM East was to get publicity for herself. Watching her, Don Softness understood her attitude and figured they could work to each other’s mutual advantage. His job was to publicize PM East, and “an interesting guest could be used as a peg” to