An Evening With Barbra Streisand
Los Angeles, California
July 9, 1967
About one month after Barbra's historic free concert in New York's Central Park (June 17, 1967), she played the Hollywood Bowl again: July 9, 1967.
Hollywood columnist Florabel Muir wrote about Barbra's Bowl show:
Barbra Streisand packed the Hollywood Bowl to capacity when she sang under the stars and to many stars. She looked more like pictures of Nefertiti than ever with her hair piled high, wearing a long flowing pink dress. She changed only once into a long red and brown tent and charmed her fans with songs like "Cry Me a River", "More Than You Know"', "Funny Valentine", "Belle of Fourteenth Street" and many, many others. For her first encore, she surprised the crowd with "Silent Night". Applauding Barbra from garden boxes were Mike Nichols, Alan King, Marge Champion, Frankie Randall, Debbie Reynolds and Carol Channing.
Barbra also broke a Hollywood Bowl record at the time—There were 17,256 persons at the concert which grossed more than $125,000.
The following set list was sung by Barbra Streisand at the Hollywood Bowl, with the orchestra conducted by Mort Lindsey:
- I Don't Care
- My Honey's Lovin Arms
- I'll Tell the Man in the Street
- Cry Me A River
- Folk Monologue / Value *
- Gotta Move
- More Than You Know
- My Funny Valentine
- Down With Love
- Love is Like A Newborn Child
- Everybody Loves My Baby
- My Buddy/How About Me?
- I Can See It
- He Touched Me
- Natural Sounds
- Marty the Martian
- Love is a Bore
- All the Things You Are
- Stout-Hearted Men
- Where Am I Going?
- Funny Girl (movie version)
- Second Hand Rose
- Sleep in Heavenly Peace (Silent Night)
- Happy Days Are Here Again
* Note: Yes, the monologue from this performance was inserted into Barbra's Happening in Central Park album because it was shorter and less rambling than the one she gave in Central Park. For brevity on the soundtrack album, Columbia Records used this one. Otherwise, all those rumors that the vocals from Central Park were really Hollywood Bowl vocals are false. Compare the Central Park album to the Central Park DVD ... it's the same.
Below is an excerpt of “Natural Sounds” from the July 9th Hollywood Bowl concert. Note that Barbra sings the correct lyric at the top of the song—“My heart makes natural sounds...” In the introduction to her Central Park DVD, Streisand pointed out that she sang the wrong lyrics. In Central Park she began the song, “My heart would make natural sounds...” Streisand is a stickler for singing the correct lyrics!
Martin Bernheimer's review:
[...] She programs a wilted old favorite like "Stout-Hearted Men," and sings it (beautifully) with all the built-in emotional values reversed—trading poignance for bravura, irony for rhetoric. She plays to an audience of 17,500 (a small gathering compared to the 135,000 mesmerized in New York's Central Park last month), and makes it seem like an intimate gathering of the devout.
[...] She can spin out long, fluid lines, she can sustain ravishing, dusky pianissimos—and she can make both feats seem natural as well as easy. How many colleagues on either side of the musical fence do that?
[...] She also has stamina (what a long, varied program!), and plucky self- confidence. At one memorable point Sunday, a plane buzzed overhead, flashing an illuminated sign. Streisand made no attempt to disguise her curiosity. She simply stopped singing, gazed upward, and studied the flying message: "Will the Green Phantom Get You?"
The evening's nifty, slick accompaniments were provided by Mort Lindsey and his spit-polish orchestra. The Bowl's lighting department had a marvelous time making the shell look like a gigantic juke box, and no one seemed to care that the fire-and-water works were out of commission. They had to be, for our girl was singing from the top of the boarded-up pool.
What, you want to know, did she sing? Everything. From "Where Am I Going" to "Cry Me a River" to "Funny Valentine" to "Silent Night." And, oh yes, something called "People."
Hollywood Bowl Concert Program
The 1967 concert program was very similar to Streisand's 1966 tour program.
The Hollywood Bowl program contained an updated bio; photos from the Central Park concert (a “future CBS-TV special” which had not aired); photos from Belle of 14th Street (“which will be aired on CBS-TV in the fall of 1967”); and a rehearsal photo of Streisand and Omar Sharif making the Funny Girl movie.
Barbra Archives has reproduced the text of Streisand's 1967 bio from the program below:
An Evening with Barbra Streisand
The first time Barbra Streisand sang “for serious,” she asked her audience to turn around in their chairs. The audience, which consisted of her two best friends, faced the kitchen wall so that they would not see her standing awkwardly, embarrassed, self-conscious. She sang. When she had finished singing, she continued to stand alone for one agonizingly long minute. Her friends turned around slowly and Barbra saw two faces streaming with tears.
Two weeks later, at the barely adult age of 18, Barbra Streisand made her first public appearance as a singer in an amateur contest in a Greenwich Village bar. (She won.)
Today, Barbra Streisand is America's leading female singer. With her performance in Funny Girl, she became one of the super-stars of the Broadway stage. From a fee of $125 a week for a night-club engagement, Barbra can now earn a million dollars for a concert tour. She holds a ten-year, multi-million dollar contract with the CBS-TV network, a contract unparalleled and unprecedented in its artistic freedom. Even more unprecedented is her phenomenal success bursting into the movie industry. Without ever having faced a motion picture camera, without even being requested for a screen test, she was signed to star in three motion pictures in succession. Already set was Funny Girl, in which she'll star with Omar Sharif for Columbia Pictures. Paramount paged her for On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, and most recently, producer-writer Ernest Lehman insisted an Barbra Streisand for what has been considered the decade's prize plum, Hello, Dolly! Walter Matthau will co-star in the Twentieth Century Fox release.
“I chose Miss Streisand for the part," says Lehman, “strictly because of her talents. She is a great singer, a natural actress and a gifted comedienne. She has a timeless quality, which means she could be Dolly Levi of 1890, as well as Barbra Streisand of 1967.”
Barbra Streisand of 1967 is a far cry from the embarrassed, self-conscious little girl of 18 who made her audience turn their backs. Barbra Streisand of 1967 is a strange combination of a tough, shy, positive, unsure, non-conformist, luminous girl from Brooklyn. And, perhaps most importantly, Barbra Streisand of 1967 is a giant show business talent who has reached her final goal, “To me,” she admits, “being a star is being a movie star.”
The protagonist of this fantasy-made-fact has no musical background, had never been in a night club until she appeared as a performer, and turned to singing only as a means of making the theater (which had rejected her as an actress) pay attention.
The success that seemed to burst overnight was the fulfillment of a little girl's fantasies. Born in Brooklyn, April 24, 1942, as a child Barbra dreamt of fame and stardom. Whether smearing lipstick an her face, “toe” dancing through the house or imitating TV commercials in the mirror, Barbra wanted to perform. Becoming an actress preoccupied her thoughts although she was an honor student at Erasmus Hall High School, graduating with a 93 average and a medal in Spanish.
Barbra Streisand (the spelling of her first name is an instance of partial rebellion: she was advised to change her last name and retaliated by dropping an “a” from the first instead) is the daughter of a promising young educator who died when she was fifteen months old and a mother who worked as a bookkeeper and maintained a kosher household.
“I always had these dreams of being a star, being in the movies,” Barbra recalls. “My mother never liked me to go to the movies. I would be depressed for weeks.”
The first time Barbra ever left Brooklyn (at the age of 14) was to go to Broadway to see a matinee performance of The Diary of Anne Frank.
“'I was disappointed. I thought I could do it better.”
At the first opportunity, after graduation, she moved to Manhattan where, for a while, her most crucial possession was a portable cot which she lugged to the apartments of friends who gave her temporary shelter.
She enrolled in four separate drama schools which she attended sporadically. “Sometimes I used the name Angelina Scarangella so that none of the teachers would realize I was studying with any others. I even had it printed on match covers to throw them off the track.”
She was given a scholarship to study with Allan Miller, a dramatic coach who was one of the first people to see through the disconcerting exterior presented by this determinedly non-conformist girl. He remembers in particular an improvisation she did of a chocolate chip melting in an oven. “It was beautiful,” he recalls, “So tender. We saw Barbra—not awkward and unsure—but as she felt in her imagination.”
Others were not as perceptive. “I was told that if I was going to be an actress, I'd have to make the rounds, knock on doors, sell myself. This was so unreal to me. I made the rounds for two days. It was winter. I was wearing heavy black tights. People looked at me as though I was nuts. I'd say, ‘Look, you'd better sign me up. I'm terrific.’ But they wouldn't even let me read. How could they tell anything if they wouldn't let you read?”
Faced with what seemed a blank wall, she renounced the theater and declared, “They'll have to come to me!”
In the summer of 1961, she entered the now-famous talent contest at The Lion, a bar and restaurant on Ninth Street. She sang “When Sunny Gets Blue” and “A Sleepin' Bee,” the song she had “auditioned” for her friends. She won $50 and a week's engagement plus meals. Another friend introduced her at the nearby Bon Soir, a Village supper club, where she was booked at $125 a week for two weeks. Two weeks spun into eleven as she was held over time after time. Word spread. Agents and producers were dropping by as part of their “rounds” to see and hear this remarkable young girl who insisted she was not a singer, but "an actress who sings." Columnists buzzed about this musical wonder so inexperienced she didn't know how to bow and became frightened by the sound of applause.
“I just sang naturally,” she explains, in describing how, with no background whatever, she became a singer. “I always knew I had kind of a good voice. I was never biased by someone else's performance. We didn't have a victrola at home, so I wasn't familiar with anyone's style. So when I sing, it's what I feel about a song, a spontaneous kind of thing.”
Her reputation as a nonconformist was fed by her manner of dressing: she debuted in a night club attired in thrift shop exotica: she habitually wore leotards and ancient fur coats (“because I was cold”); and often performed in a costume described as a “gingham tent”— so voluminous that she was frequently reported pregnant. A number of visits with Mike Wallace on his late night television show, PM East, earned Barbra publicity as a personality with very unpredictable ideas. The story got around that when she applied to the Actors Studio and was asked to name her favorite actress, she declared she couldn't make up her mind between Mae West and Rita Hayworth.
She rebelled against advice that ignored her as an individual; she refused to have her nose straightened or shortened; she refused to use more conventional music material; she refused to open her act with the traditional uptempo number. “I like to sing a ballad first, which I was told was all wrong. Uptempo songs are not as important, and I think the first moments on stage are very important.”
Today, the extent of Miss Streisand's success proves all the “advisors” false prophets. What she feels is right invariably works. “If I'd listened to everyone who wanted to change me, I would've gone crazy. Besides, I couldn't do something that I didn't believe in—I would have done that badly. It's funny. Kids write me now asking how to break into show business. How could I advise them when I didn't listen to anyone myself? Besides, there just is no way. You do what you have to.”
Through the Bon Soir, the theater actually did come to her. It was an off-Broadway revue, Another Evening with Harry Stoones, in which she sang a blues and a comic number. She stopped the show on opening night, but that proved to be the closing night too. However, the Bon Soir engagement also led to an appearance at a midtown showcase, the now-extinct Blue Angel, where she was seen by Arthur Laurents, who was preparing to direct the musical version of Jerome Weidman's I Can Get It For You Wholesale for David Merrick. Laurents convinced everyone that this young unknown could handle the feature role of the unnoticed, unloved secretary, Miss Marmelstein.
After her audition for the part, Barbra ran around the stage handing out her phone number and explaining that it was her very first phone and it had just been installed and she hoped somebody, anybody, would call her. That night, the phone rang. “You were brilliant,” a deep voice said. “Who is this?” “Elliott Gould.”
The show opened on March 22, 1962, to “mixed” reviews, but it was heralded by the critics as the debut of a brilliant comedienne, earning Barbra the Best Supporting Actress award in the New York Critics' Poll as well as a Tony nomination.
She once again proved to be a show stopper with her single song, “Miss Marmelstein.” The response to her performance on stage and in the original cast recording of the musical, as well as her work in an album of songs from Pins and Needles, convinced Columbia Records that she should be recorded on her own.
“When I first auditioned for Goddard Lieberson (Columbia's president),” Barbra recalls, “he said I wouldn't sell records, that I was too special, that I would appeal only to a small clique who would dig me. But the first album went right on the charts, and the second one too. Everyone was surprised. But I always knew it would happen this way. People were ready for me.”
Indeed, they were. Barbra Streisand was awarded Grammys for Best Performance by a Female Vocalist for three consecutive years (1963, 1964, 1965). Both the first and the fourth (People) LP's won Grammy awards for Best Album of the Year. All of her albums have quickly become gold records, signifying that they have earned a million dollars' worth of sales each.
As her recording career took fire, so did everything else. After the closing of Wholesale, Barbra was besieged with offers from night clubs, television shows and Broadway producers. She sang at Mr. Kelly's in Chicago, the Caucus Club in Detroit, the hungry i in San Francisco and New York's famed Basin St. East. She appeared on the Garry Moore, Jack Paar, Ed Sullivan, Dinah Shore and Bob Hope television shows, acquiring a growing legion of fans, which included the late President Kennedy. He invited her to entertain at the White House Press Correspondents' Dinner in May, 1963.
During the summer of that year, she bowled over the West Coast with a string of smash night club engagements, particularly at the Cocoanut Grove, where she brought all of Hollywood to her feet. As she looked around the celebrity-packed audience, Barbra exclaimed, “So many people! If I'd known you were going to be on both sides of me, I'd have had my nose fixed.” She also played Harrah's at Lake Tahoe, the Riviera in Las Vegas and a concert with Sammy Davis at the Hollywood Bowl.
After four months of rehearsal and out-of-town tryouts, Funny Girl opened at the Winter Garden Theater on March 26, 1964. In praise of Barbra, the reviewers were nothing short of rapturous. “Everybody knew that Barbra Streisand would be a star,” wrote drama critic Walter Kerr, “and so she is.” Her concept of the role of Fanny Brice is typically original and won her a Tony nomination once again. She did not copy the style or mannerisms of the late comedienne, but approached the part as if she were portraying a fictional rather than a real person.
In quick succession, Barbra's strangely stunning face appeared on the covers of Cue, Time, Show, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Look and twice on the cover of Life Magazine. She was requested to entertain at the Inaugural Gala for President Johnson for her second White House “command performance.”
Once assailed for her thrift shop exotica, Barbra's individualistic fashion sense has been duly recognized with her election to the international Best Dressed List of 1965. (“Maybe now they'll stop calling me 'kooky'.”) The Encyclopedia Britannica had already hailed her as 1964's fashion trendsetter. Meeting Barbra for the first time, fashion editor Eugenia Sheppard wrote: “Barbra is anything but kooky. She's only about as kooky as Gloria Guinness, C-Z Guest, the Duchess of Windsor or any of the all-time fashion greats when they had just turned twenty-two.”
For her first project under the terms of the fabulous CBS-TV contract, Barbra essayed a one-woman special, My Name is Barbra. Skipping through an Alice-in-Wonderland setting, whirling through Bergdorf Goodman's expensive aisles or belting it out in concert, Barbra sang and sang, and America was delighted. Time Magazine declared unequivocally, “It is the most enchanting, tingling TV hour of the season.” The United Press reviewer, inspired to eloquence, wrote: “The result was a pinnacle moment of American showbusiness, in any form, in any period. She is so great it is shocking, something like being in love . . . She may well be the most supremely talented and compleat popular entertainer that this country has ever produced. She simply dwarfs such contemporary stars as Julie Andrews, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland and Carol Burnett. Anything they can do, she can do light-years better. She is alternately gamin-like, sexy, mischievous, innocent, confident, insouciant, girlish and radiating warmth. So she touches you to your toes. And then she knacks you out.” From coast to coast, the expletives and superlatives rolled in as well as five Emmy awards.
Her second special, Color Me Barbra, was seen a year later on March 30, 1966, this time in color. “Color her magnificent,” one critic demanded, “the most bewitching female performer I have ever seen on television,” another chimed. “A blockbuster,” “again the consummate performer,” “lightning can, after all, strike twice in the same place,” “actually topped her first,” were a sampling of the nation's praise.
Having floored America with a succession of victories in every field she attempted—night clubs, recording, stage and television—Barbra turned to foreign pastures. On April 11, 1966, she opened in Funny Girl at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London and added another country to her cupboard.
The intensity of anticipation that awaited her London debut was overwhelming. Barbra had only committed herself to a 14-week run. The box office was sold out before she arrived for rehearsals with the new company. Opening night was attended by every celebrity on the continent. The London critics cautiously took their seats but found themselves searching frantically for their pens. “As far as I am concerned, the legend can only have erred on the side of conservatism. Miss Streisand is a miracle.” “Lovable, funny and an artist to her eloquent fingertips,” “spontaneously commands an audience's attention and affection,” “an original, gawky, graceful, exotic, joy,” “It is her night. It is her show.” The praise poured in.
Barbra breezed away with the Variety poll of the London critics, easily earning their nearly unanimous nod for best female lead in a musical, Funny Girl itself was voted best foreign musical of the 1965-66 West End season.
Before leaving for London, Barbra had signed another unprecedented (it seems that everything she does is unprecedented] million-dollar contract, this time for a nationwide concert tour to be made upon her return from her West End run and guaranteeing her $50,000 for each appearance. Originally scheduled for 20 cities, the tour had to be abridged to only four stops when Barbra became pregnant, the rest of the appearances being postponed to a convenient future time. The cities were Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, and Newport, R. I., and in each location, performing in huge outdoor stadia in order to accommodate as many Streisand votaries as possible, Barbra electrified the audience. One reviewer wrote of the experience: “Her name is Barbra and there is only one—there really and truly is. She is not a singer; she is The Singer. Next to her, and I exaggerate not one iota, all others have laryngitis.” The legend continues to grow.
After these triumphs, Barbra went into temporary retirement as Mrs. Elliott Gould, mother to be. On September 13, 1963, she had married the man who told her she was brilliant before anyone else did. This marriage culminated a romance that was born and bloomed backstage during the run of Wholesale, in which Elliott was the leading man. As a mother-to-be, she busied herself in their Manhattan penthouse that Barbra personally decorated, indulging her love for antiques and interior decoration. On December 29, 1966, Jason Emanuel was born.
Emerging from temporary retirement in the spring, Barbra was back at work again with Jason Robards and John Bubbles, taping her third special, Belle of 14th Street, a recreation of the glorious days of vaudeville, which will be aired on CBS-TV in the fall of 1967.
Her inevitable success in filmdom will have a special meaning for Barbra. “I remember a long time ago when I was a kid,” she says, “I had to be somebody. And, I decided I didn't want to be just the best of one thing. I would be the best singer, best actress, best recording star, best Broadway star and best movie star. That was my challenge.”
The still-growing legend of Barbra Streisand is living proof that the little girl will undoubtedly meet the challenge of her great expectations.
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