‘This is my legacy’: Barbra Streisand writes about her decades-long career in biography

Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand has published her story, telling her side of the ups and downs of her iconic career.

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BBC News reported that when she started in the ‘60s, Newsweek focused more on her appearance during her U.K. tour in 1966 and not on her music, writing at the time, “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.”

The reporters were cruel, according to BBC News, calling her an “amiable anteater” with an “unbelievable nose” who resembled “a myopic gazelle.” But when she became a world-renowned singer and eventually one of a handful of EGOT winners, taking home Emmys, Grammies, Oscars and Tony awards, writers took a more positive tone, calling her a “Babylonian queen.”

Still, the previous descriptions stayed with her, despite all of her success.

“Even after all these years, I’m still hurt by the insults and can’t quite believe the praise,” she wrote in her new biography, “My Name is Barbra,” the same name used for her 1965 television special and album.

The nearly 1,000-page book, according to Streisand, “was the only way to have some control over my life.”

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

Vanity Fair called the book “992 pages of startling honesty and self-reflection.”

Streisand sat down for an interview with the BBC from her home in Malibu, California, to promote her book. She said she started mapping out the book a half-century ago, beginning the process by making notes and writing by hand.

The singer and actress writes about her family and losing her father to a cerebral hemorrhage when she was only 15 months old, leaving her family in poverty in Brooklyn. As a child, she would sing in the apartment building lobby with her friends. Streisand got her big break when she was 16 and entered a talent contest, opening with “A Sleepin’ Bee” and winning the prize of $50 and a free dinner.

She sang in Greenwich, entertaining celebrities, record label reps and big names in the theater where she was cast in a small role in “I Can Get It for You Wholesale.” She got a standing ovation for her only song in the production and the rest, as they say, is history.

She was selected to play Fanny Brice in “Funny Girl,” a role she was all too familiar with.

Brice and Streisand had a connection. Both were young Jewish women who worked hard to become household names, embracing what made them stand out instead of following countless others and changing themselves to fit a mold.

From that stage, Streisand went on to star in such films as “A Star is Born,” a film version of “Funny Girl,” as well as the film for Broadway hit “Hello Dolly.” She also wrote, directed and starred in “Yentl.”

She toured and performed in sold-out concerts, which came to an end in 2000. Her final concert was at Madison Square Garden in September of that year.

“It feels like time to say goodbye to this part of my life,” she told the crowd of fans, ABC News reported. She was 58 at the time.

Now at the age of 81, she has apparently said goodbye to another part of her life: entertaining as a whole, BBC News reported.

She said it is now her time, and she wants to spend it with her husband of 25 years, James Brolin.

“I want to live life,” she said, according to BBC News. “I want to get in my husband’s truck and just wander, hopefully with the children somewhere near us.

“Life is fun for me when they come over. They love playing with the dogs and we have fun.

“I haven’t had much fun in my life, to tell you the truth. And I want to have more fun.”