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Barbra Streisand, 81, says she hasn’t had ‘much fun in her life’

The singer and actor has said she wants to ‘live life’, get in her husband’s truck and ‘just wander’

Ellie Muir
Thursday 09 November 2023 05:02 GMT
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Jimmy Fallon Sings A Duet With Barbra Streisand On The Tonight Show

Barbra Streisand has reflected on her six-decade career in the entertainment industry and lamented the lack of fun she’s had.

In a new interview with BBC Breakfast ahead of the release of her memoir, the American singer and actor, 81, said she now wants to make up for the years she spent not taking much personal or professional joy from life.

“I want to live life,” she told the BBC’s music correspondent Mark Savage. “I haven’t had much fun in my life, to tell you the truth. And I want to have more fun.”

Instead, Streisand said she wants to get in her husband’s truck and “just wander”.

“Hopefully with the children somewhere near us,” she said. "Life is fun for me when they come over. They love playing with the dogs and we have fun.”

In her forthcoming autobiography, titled My Name Is Barbra, which is 992 pages long, the singer recalls her life and career, as well as an encyclopaedic account of the different meals she has eaten throughout the years.

Streisand left her home in Brooklyn, New York, aged 15 and took a job as a clerk while working weekend shifts as a theatre usher to get an insight into the world of Broadway theatre. But at the time, Streisand knew that she was destined for fame.

“I got paid $4.50, I think it was, but I always hid my face because I thought someday I’d be well-known,” she told the BBC.

“Isn’t that funny? I didn’t want people to recognise me on the screen and know that I once showed them to their seats.”

Barbra Streisand photographed in 1965 (Getty Images)

Streisand’s entertainment career started to take off in the 1960s after she entered a talent contest at a gay bar in Manhattan, winning $50 and a free dinner as the prize. Soon after that performance, she scored bookings to play shows across Greenwich and attracted the attention of record labels and celebrities. Streisand made her Broadway debut in Funny Girl, a musical loosely based on the story of vaudeville comedian Fanny Brice.

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In the Sixties and Seventies, Streisand’s stardom became unstoppable. As well as her movie musicals, she played heroines in What’s Up, Doc and The Owl And The Pussycat, and the romantic lead in The Way We Were.

In her music career, she recorded hits including Evergreen, No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) and became the second biggest-selling female artist of all time.

But throughout Streisand’s career, she did not enjoy the attention, nor criticism, that came with being famous.

Streisand surrounded by press photographers in 1965 (Getty Images)

“But, you know, it was more exciting to dream about being famous than the reality. I’m a very private person. I don’t enjoy stardom,” she told the broadcaster.

As early as 1966, the media began scrutinising Streisand’s appearance. According to the BBC, Newsweek magazine wrote in that year: “Barbra Streisand represents a triumph of aura over appearance... Her nose is too long, her bosom too small, her hips too wide. Yet when she steps in front of a microphone she transcends generations and cultures.”

In her new autobiography, Streisand writes that she is still “hurt” by the insults directed at her throughout her career.

Streisand photographed in 2019 (Getty Images for UCLA Institute )

“Even after all these years, I’m still hurt by the insults and can’t quite believe the praise," writes the star in My Name Is Barbra.

Streisand has said that she will no longer be giving interviews to the press, and has suggested that the memoir represents a full stop on her career.

“It [the memoir] was the only way to have some control over my life,” she told the BBC.

“This is my legacy. I wrote my story. I don’t have to do any more interviews after this.”

My Name Is Barbra is published on 7 November by Penguin Random House.

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