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What We Learned From Barbra Streisand’s Memoir



“Looking back, it was much more fun to dream of being famous than to actually be famous,” Barbra Streisand writes near the end of “My Name Is Barbra,” her new memoir. “I didn’t like all the ridiculous stories they made up, or the envy my success provoked.” Here, culled from the book’s 970 pages, is her version of a very examined life, replete with triumphs and slights, love affairs and famous friends, anxiety and antiques and (always) food.

  • Streisand lost her father when she was 15 months old, and disliked her stepfather, but was close to her grandfather, “even though he once washed my mouth out with red Lifebuoy soap when I said a bad word. But I knew he loved me. I would sit on his lap and cut the hair out of his ears. That’s real intimacy.”

  • She met Marlon Brando, her teenage crush, after singing at a benefit, when “suddenly I felt someone kissing my back. Who would dare do that? I turned around and it was him.” When she protested, he replied: “You can’t have a back like that and not have it kissed.” One of his phone signoffs was “I kiss you gently on your inner thigh and on your lips.” In the 1990s, he went to visit her for dinner and “he couldn’t extract himself from his car,” Streisand writes. “He had gained so much weight that he was stuck behind the steering wheel, and I had to grab hold of his arms and pull him out.” Later he rubbed her feet and told her about making “On the Waterfront.”

  • “Did I sleep with Warren?” she asked herself after a recent phone conversation with Warren Beatty (they go back to when they were in summer stock). “I kind of remember. I guess I did. Probably once.”