Proof of David R's encounter with Barbra Streisand
FilmLinc Daily asked Barbra Streisand fans to recall their fondest memories of the star in celebration of the 40th Anniversary Chaplin Awards Gala in her honor. Two lucky winners were chosen at random to receive a pair of tickets to tonight's event, but there were far more great stories than that. Read some of the funny, emotional, heartfelt, and personal connections to Streisand below.
David R (Winner): “In April 1994 I met Barbra at the reading of The Normal Heart at the Roundabout Theater. I had the opportunity to give her a gift. As I gave her the box, she asked me what it was. I answered: “a fountain pen”. She then said in the cutest Jewish accent: “What is it, my bat mitzvah?” and smiled at me. Two days later I received a beautiful handwritten note from her: “Dear David, I am so glad to have had a positive effect on your life. Thank you for the pen which was unnecessary, but very much appreciated by Barbra Streisand.” I have it framed under a Hirschfeld lithograph of her. Do not believe the stories you hear about her not being grateful to her admirers!!!
Homa N (Winner): When my family immigrated to the United States around1983, I was a freshman at Smithtown High School West, on Long Island, to be exact. Whilst struggling to learn English, I came upon the recently released Yentl & grew completely obsessed with it. Having come from a third-world country in the Middle East (Iran) I was mesmerized by the idea of a woman becoming a scholar! I must have watched that movie dozens of times. Yentl inspired me to become a scholar – I ended up pursuing FIVE university degrees. Ouch! My experiences at academia may be described in two words: utter misery. However, I continue to adore Barbra Streisand … & will never hold her responsible for a decade & a half of grievances. If that ain't love then I don't know what is!
Geri W: Musicals have been my love my whole life. Four years ago, I saw Funny Girl and Yentl in the same week. I've been latched on to Barbra Streisand's work in every field ever since. Her characters were instantly relatable and real. She was strong and vulnerable at the same time, which is so unique. I love how her feelings extend through the screen and bring to life emotions that I have felt in such a similar way. She truly is the greatest star.
Andrea P: I was nearly 13 years old and the song 'No More tears, Enough is Enough' by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer was the rage. The year was 1979 and I didn't speak English yet, but I did speak music and that song spoke to me in many ways. This was the first record (vinyl) that I bought in the United States. I remember being so excited by these two singers; this was the record I had to have! As new immigrants from Brazil, my parents didn't have much money to indulge us with luxuries, but one day my mother decided to treat my sister and I to a record of our choice. I remember going to Sam Goody and seeing the cover of the Barbra/Donna record all over the store, as it was a mega hit. “That's it!” I jumped and shouted. I was so excited! My mom bought me the record, and I played it at least ten times a day. What a duo! Barbra was absolutely gorgeous! I wished I looked like her! Her voice was so fine, so feminine, yet strong! I drove everybody crazy by playing that song over and over. I must admit that this song helped me with my English because in a short while, I was singing it, in correct pronunciation, just like Barbra and Donna!
Michael C: I shared the Barbra and Frank Sinatra duet “I’ve Got a Crush On You” with my then 8 year old daughter Arlana. Our family was going through a crisis and having difficulty managing a break up in my marriage. Sharing this song Arlana and I found a bond that to this day she describes as magical. We sang together, me as Frank and she as Barbra at the top of our lungs. It wasn’t the lyric as much as the opportunity to share in something that was warm, loving and caring. Arlana sang her heart out. ”I’ve Got a Crush on You” was simple but said so much at the time. No matter what was happening we told each other we loved each other. That song was a key moment; anchoring us in a very turbulent time. We look at that song and Barbra as a true gift.
Barbra Streisand in William Wyler's Funny Girl (1968). Photo: COLUMBIA / THE KOBAL COLLECTION
Alystyre J: As a child in the summer of 1979, I was taken to see Manhattan. On the way in, I saw the poster for The Main Event with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal. I had loved the slapstick caper What’s Up Doc? Which featured the same duo. Even past the gorgeous opening of Manhattan, I was still squirming, convinced I would not be able to settle into it. I wanted to switch movies that night, and see Streisand vs. O’Neal instead. I took off from one theater and slipped into the other. Streisand was clever, playfully witty, and adorably sexy. Manhattan is easily in my top favorite stash now, but that day, The Main Event won. Streisand and O’Neal were the stars I wanted to watch; they were the story, and they were the champions.
Stephanie C: In 1965, I was 9 years old and on my first trip to New York City. We visited all the sites: the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, The Automat. Times Square was a throng of camera shops and peep shows. Dad dragged us into the camera shops; mom rushed us past the peep shows. But my dad was most proud of getting third row orchestra seats to my first Broadway show, which ignited a love for the city, the theatre, and Barbra Streisand…he had scored tickets to Funny Girl! I sat through that performance awestruck and to this day still sing the songs; off-key but loud! I am looking at the Playbill he saved and posted proudly on his wall; it's now posted proudly on mine. So much since then has changed; the Playbill has ads from Benson & Hedges, Oldsmobile, TWA, Canoe, and the Sands Casino in Vegas. But the talent, grace and class of Barbra Streisand never fades, nor will the memory of my dad holding my hand in my first visit to the Winter Garden theatre!
Jeremy E: My first time seeing Barbra on film was as a young, tireless boy who snuck downstairs after bedtime to find my mom curled up in a blanket, tissues in hand, sobbing to that final scene from The Way We Were. At first, I wasn't sure what was wrong with this sobbing woman. Was this the same mother who just hours before was gently wiping my hair from my eyes while reading my bedtime story? It wasn't for many years that I would return to the movie on my own. It then made sense. Barbra's “Ka-Ka-Katey” found a place within me; an uncompromising and at times hubris-filled space within my personality that, now in my mid-30's, I refuse to relinquish. Even though my mom and I have never spoken about that late evening I wandered down to find her identifying with Barbra's character, it is something that will always bond us.
Jim B: In 1970 when I first moved into Manhattan, I was ushering at an off-Broadway theater where Paul Zindel's Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the Moon Marigolds was playing. Barbra attended the show one night early in the run and I was assigned to take her backstage at the end of the performance to get her away from the audience, and to meet the cast. Right before she met the actors she leaned in toward me and said “Thank You!” It was the most memorable “Thank You” I'd received at that point in my life, in my late twenties, from the most famous person I'd ever met!
Blair B: Barbra Streisand has unknowingly guided me out of some of the darkest moments of my life. I am instinctively drawn to Streisand’s voice during times of loss to help navigate me through the pain. I recall so many times when a song like “Songbird” or “The Way We Were” helped to heal my broken heart after a breakup or unrequited love. After my father’s untimely death on my 18th birthday, I sat alone in a park for hours listening to “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” When my grandfather passed away a decade later, I played Barbra’s recording of “Believe/You’ll Never Walk Alone” at his funeral and it felt as though she were there giving us a private memorial concert. When my mentor of 22 years passed I again turned to Barbra’s version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and last year when my grandmother, Emily, died I played “Emily” and “With One More Look At You” to help heal the pain. Barbra has also been there during the good times! “A Piece of Sky” got me into and through college, and every Christmas, we play her Christmas album as the family opens gifts.
Barbra Streisand wrote, directed, produced, and starred in Yentl (1983). Photo: MGM/UA / THE KOBAL COLLECTION
Gregory V: When I was seven years old, my mother rented Hello, Dolly! for me to watch. When Barbra first appeared on screen, I was in awe. She was beautiful. Then, she started to sing. She had the most gorgeous voice I had ever heard. It became apparent that she was hilarious too. Barbra was the prettiest, funniest, and most talented woman I had ever seen in my life. To be honest, I had not considered marriage until that point in my life, but I was ready to make the leap. Barbra made such a huge impression on me that I decided to write her a letter, in which I gushed about how much I loved her and asked for an autographed photo. I even signed my own second-grade school picture and sent it with the letter. I thought maybe we could make some sort of exchange. To my surprise and elation, I soon received a large manila envelope containing a stunning photograph, on which she had written: “Happy Days – Barbra Streisand.” It has been with me ever since.
Marley M: I can’t say that this exactly counts as a memory, but just a few days ago, one of Barbra’s most ardent fans, Allison J. Waldman, passed away after a long and hard battle with cancer. Not only did Barbra post a touching message on Facebook sending her condolences, but she also sent flowers to Ms. Waldman’s funeral service. If that isn’t being a star, or an outstanding human being, then I don’t know what is! All of the talent, wealth, and stardom in the world has still not distracted Ms. Streisand from “What Matters Most” (the title of one of her most recent albums). One of my first and fondest Memories of the incomparable Barbra Streisand, was as an 11-year-old, watching VH1’s “I Love the 80’s” at my grandmother’s house. Never could I have imagined the impact the image of a woman with close-cropped hair and clasped fists singing to a single, flickering candle would have on me. Though I can’t quite say why, something about seeing images from Ms. Streisand’s directorial debut, Yentl that night got my attention right away, and I just had to ask my mother to request it for me from the library. It didn’t matter that I was a gangly black kid living in the Bronx at the time; she was a strikingly beautiful woman singing in a voice that I could hardly believe was real. So, the love affair began. Six years, tens of movies, hundreds of songs, her glorious book “My Passion Design”, and a single ticket to her Back-to-Brooklyn concert later, I am still rapt.
Caitlin K: When I was thirteen, my father passed away after a battle with leukemia. It was the ﬁrst time in my life that I was confronted with death, and it was surreal to process the passing of my father, with whom I had been very close. On a summer day a few weeks after his death, I was perusing the CD collection at my local library looking for new and interesting music, when I came across the soundtrack to Yentl. I had watched Hello, Dolly! (my ﬁrst Streisand movie experience) the night before my father died, but I was not familiar with her recordings and decided to check it out. I was initially moved by the beautiful music and lyrics, but as the songs unfolded I discovered the overarching theme of Yentl’s relationship with her father. “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” expressed exactly what I was feeling at that time, and over the following months I learned all the lyrics by memory and would sing my heart out along with Barbra in our attic. Being a musician myself, the ability to express my feelings in song was especially meaningful, and looking back now, it played a big role in my grieving process. Since that time, both the music and ﬁlms of Barbra Streisand have come to hold a very special place in my heart.
Jack S: I'm a lifelong fan who has loved Barbra for more than 35 years. I discovered her amazing voice on the radio as a teenager. I own every album, movie and concert DVD. I have seen her in concert seven times. She is the last of the truly great American entertainers.
Scott E: It was the summer of 1966. I was 16, and I had ordered tickets for Streisand’s concert at the Atlanta Stadium. It was a 100-mile trip by car, and all morning it had been pouring rain. We thought for sure the concert would be cancelled, but we set out anyway and the rain just got worse as we drove. Once we got to Atlanta, we went to dinner and just as we were leaving the restaurant, the rain stopped. We dashed to the stadium, got seated, and after a brief delay Barbra walked out onto the field under an umbrella, then closed the umbrella and started to sing.
Barbra Streisand in For Pete's Sake (1977). Image courtesy of COLUMBIA / THE KOBAL COLLECTION.
Melissa M: Back in 1992, my family and I went to see the Broadway show “Death and a Maiden”. We were very excited as the play only had 3 cast members and they were Gene Hackman, Richard Dreyfuss and Glenn Close. We walked up to the Brooks Atkinson Theatre and immediately bumped into Barbra Streisand. We were all beside ourselves to have this great sighting. As we entered the theater we were told that Glenn Close would not be performing that night and I was quite upset. This was an extremely limited run and exchanging the tickets was not an option. As I was complaining to my mom she said “if Barbra Streisand can sit and watch the understudy so can you.” As luck would have it, Ms. Streisand was sitting a few rows in front of us and I saw that she was staying for the performance so I didn't have much of an argument. I watched the show and thought if I couldn't see Glenn Close at least I had a great audience sighting!
Danai P: My name is Danai and I am a 27 year-old black woman from Brooklyn. I fell in love with Babs when I was 8 years old after watching Hello Dolly on AMC snuggled in bed with my parents. After Hello Dolly I saw Funny Girl and then Funny Lady and then the Central Park Concert, and then…well, you get the picture. I was hooked. When I was 9, my father passed away and I listened to Barbra incessantly; Her perfect voice and wit and poise and polish, yes, even her nails, helped get me through that painful time – and she was from Brooklyn, just like me! So after I honed my obsession and purchased every Babs cassette tape and VHS I could muster with my allowance, in the winter of 1994, I was psyched for the big come-back concert. Unfortunately, 9 year-old allowance doesn't get you to Madison Square Garden! To make matters worse I had to attend a Kwanzaa party the night the concert aired on TV. During the party there was a “circle of thanks” in which guests were asked to say what they were thankful for. Most said “health” and “family” and “children” but when it was my turn I had a special message. I said I was thankful for Barbra Streisand!!! There was radio silence, and then laughter, and then consternation…. But I wasn't kidding and after my confession, I went upstairs, shut myself in a room and watched the concert on TV, alone. To this day I remember all the music, choreography and one-liners. The whole experience of that party and that concert is emblazoned in my memory of my childhood – and others think of it too. So thanks for reading this – and thanks for honoring her 'cause she's the best!
Melanie S: My admiration for Barbra Streisand spans more than 50 years. I saw both I Can Get It For You Wholesale and Funny Girl, attended the Central Park Concert (from 20 feet away and still have her blue china tea cup), have seen every film and every NY area concert including both at the Barclays Center. I respect Barbra as a talented performer but also appreciate the skill that accompanies her behind the camera. Of all her film work as an actress, I think Nuts remains one of her best to date. It was not received as generously as others but she allowed us to see her spectrum of emotion and appearance from gorgeous to natural and vulnerable. The interaction with Richard Dreyfuss is priceless. Her performance is nothing short of perfection and she deserved an Oscar. Her career is far from over though, and I'm sure that there are many more performances, both in film (in front of and behind the camera) as well as recordings ahead.
Kudos to the NY Film Society for recognizing her accomplishments by honoring her at this years Chaplin Award Gala.
Susan L: In 1971 at the age of seven, I was first introduced to classic cabaret by a voice that demanded my attention. My mother while undertaking the monotonous task of cleaning house with 8 children under her feet played her favorite albums to let her mind slip away while her hands scrubbed. Of all her albums “Barbra Streisand's Greatest Hits” was my favorite. I loved to sing “Second Hand Rose” because I too wore second-hand-clothes and enjoyed the rhyming lyrics however “People” was my favorite and still is my favorite song sung by Barbra. By 1980, I was 16 and my friends were hypnotized by AC/DC, but I was locked in my room with Kiss posters listening to Barbra and Barry while singing to “What Kind of Fool.” I've seen every movie starring Barbra. In my lifetime there will be no other artist that has touched or demanded my emotions more then her voice and her romantic characters.
David F: Forget Beatlemania. For me and my best friend Marc, 1964 was the year of Barbramania. Barbra opened in Funny Girl that year and there was no doubt that we were going to make the pilgrimage to the Winter Garden Theater. We saved our allowance until we had the $5.50 for a Wednesday matinee orchestra seat. We would get to see Barbra on the 22nd of July at 2 o’clock. B-day finally arrived. We got up at dawn and took the long bus and subway trip to the city. We entered the theater, as excited as I’ve ever been. The lights dimmed and a man’s voice came over the speaker. “At this performance…” The audience collectively gasped. vWas she sick? Oh My God! He continued…”The role of Florenz Ziegfeld, usually played by Roger De Koven, would be played by Marc Jordan.” Phew! After the overture, when Barbra sat down at her mirrored table, with a leopard skin coat and hat and greeted herself with “Hello Gorgeous,” Marc and I gasped in astonishment. The peak of our experience came the moment she stood alone on the stage, in a black sequined gown with a slit up the front and sang “The Music That Makes Me Dance.” A little voice in my head told me it would never be as good as this again.