POSTED April 24 2012

For Barbra Streisand on Her 70th Birthday

The Beatles and Barbra, Barbra and The Beatles. Not just the soundtrack for a middle-school girl circa 1966, but avatars of style. Proof that you could come from Liverpool or Brooklyn and rock London and Manhattan. Proof that the voice was mightier than the face and that the voice transfigured the face.

Inspirational stuff to a 13-year-old from the San Fernando Valley, a bumpy, smoggy 35-minute bus ride to the crumbling movie palaces in Hollywood to catch A Hard Day’s Night (and, later, Funny Girl). Inspirational and confidence-building.

This is how I remember it: Riding the schoolbus home one night in March, 1966 I was just another girl with a prominent proboscis, not the kind boys looked at that way. That night we watched Color Me Barbra, Herself’s second television special, much of it shot in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a collection I have come to know well.

I can pinpoint the moment it crystallized.  Streisand in profile,  batting bejeweled eyelids, next to a bust of Nefertiti. Streisand’s profile and posture announced, “I am a classical beauty. ” As she launched into the haunting, “Where or When” it was as if a sandpiper morphed into a bird of paradise.

The following morning on the schoolbus, I felt different. To this day I don’t know whether it was because Color Me Barbra gave me confidence or because Streisand redefined what beauty is.

Thank you. Happy birthday.

Favorite Streisand movie? Song? (I’m going with Yentl and “Draw Me a Circle”)




  1. I greatly prefer seeing her act than hearing her sing, but I know many people disagree. I like What’s Up, Doc? a lot (or used to; it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it). When I worked at CBS/FOX, we had all the tv specials in our programming library and occasionally dealt with her manager, Martin Ehrlichman, who was always incredibly courteous and pleasant, which I think probably speaks well personally of Ms. Streisand herself. Curtis

  2. Debbie R says:

    Yep, I was a Jewish high school girl in LA. I remember seeing her on TV (was it Ed Sullivan?) and my jaw dropped — both at the magnificence of her voice, and my sense that she was “there for me too.” I was thankful and proud. Still am.

  3. Horse Badorties says:

    I rememeber Barbara when she lived in myh Bklyn development in the late 50s early 60s. She was a cashier at a Chinese restaurant on Flatbush Ave. I remember watching her on the opening of Funny Girl in 64. She gets out of a car and a newsman says to her, “Barbara, its a long way from Flatbush to Broadway, isn’t it?” Not missing a beat, she deadpans. “Not really, if you take the IRT at Newkirk Avenue and change for the D train at W. 4th.” That’s the Barbara I rememeber.

  4. I can’t believe she’s 70. Ms. Streisand gave many of us the confidence to be who we wanted to be. I especially liked “What’s Up Doc” when I was a kid, but I’ve no idea if it holds up.

    (It’s a nice article, but I’m unlikely to read/comment again, since your copyright notice prohibits sharing, yet asserts ownership of my words.)

  5. This design is wicked! You most certainly know how to keep
    a reader entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost
    moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great
    job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please prove you\'re not a robot: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.