Color Me Barbra: Home Video & CBS Rebroadcast
Color Me Barbra first appeared on home video in 1986 on CBS/Fox VHS tape. Ed Green—the original audio engineer for the special—remastered the home video version. Billboard reported that “there were four of five versions of audio for each show” that Green had to work with. Streisand's manager Marty Erlichman coordinated the release of Color Me Barbra and My Name is Barbra to VHS.
Streisand filmed an introduction to her 1966 television special in which she briefly recalled making it.
It's interesting to note that the first home video release of this special contained some videotape editing glitches that were left over from the primitive technology of editing video in 1966.
Before that, however, All-Star Video released the rehearsal version of Color Me Barbra on VHS and Betamax (as well as My Name Is Barbra and Central Park) around 1980. When VHS boomed in the early ‘80’s they stopped production of the one hour tapes and put together two compilation tapes entitled The Barbra Streisand Story Volume I and II. Streisand sued All-Star Video in 1981 for selling unauthorized recordings of her television shows.
CBS rebroadcast Color Me Barbra in 1994, almost 29 years after it originally debuted on the network. CBS edited some content for time (songs were cut from the concert segment—there are more commercials these days than in 1966!).
The DVD of Color Me Barbra was finally released in 2005 in a box set of Streisand's first five television specials. Gone were the 1960’s videotape editing glitches so evident in “Gotta Move” and “The Minute Waltz”. The DVD soundtrack, however, seemed to be the exact same as the 1986 VHS version. Stereo and mono tracks are prevalent. Sometimes the DVD switched from a compressed, narrow-sounding mono track (i.e. “Yesterdays”) to a full stereo one (i.e. “One Kiss”).
Warner/Rhino Entertainment released a solo-packaged version of Color Me Barbra with a striking, full-color photograph of Streisand in July 2006.
The Art of Color Me Barbra
The museum segment of Color Me Barbra, filmed on location at Philadelphia's Museum of Art, featured paintings by the masters. Here's a quick guide to the paintings that Streisand stepped into...
“Color Me Barbra” Costumes
Streisand posed, sitting in a chair, for some Color Me Barbra costume tests against a black background.
The black lace dress (above, left) was not used. Barbra's sparkly outfit was actually a sequined leotard that Barbra purchased from Filene's Basement in Boston while performing there in I Can Get It For You Wholesale, circa 1962. Covered with hand sewn gold sequins, Barbra wore the leotard in the circus scene of Color Me Barbra. In the costume sketch (below), she deemed that the circus costume would be a “single layer chiffon over my own sequined leotard.”
Below is another Streisand sketch idea for her clown costume (courtesy of Joseph Petrollese). Ray Diffen designed the costumes for Color Me Barbra. Streisand's sketches conveyed to Diffen what she liked and he took it from there executing the actual garments.
Below are two costumes used in the museum sequence. Barbra wore the black-and-white dress while singing “Free Again.” It was auctioned in 2004 and described as: The full length black wool gown features an intentionally off center silk collar which snaps into the neck. The full length sleeves zip at the cuffs. The bottom of the skirt is weighted.
Also below is the Egyptian headress Streisand wore while singing “Where or When.”
Tom John: Designing Streisand's Sets
Tom John designed his first set for Fletcher Rabbit on the 1950s children's show Kukla, Fran & Ollie. He designed sets for Harry Belafonte, Frank Sinatra, and the Broadway shows George M! and The Wiz. Tom John designed all the sets for Streisand's 1960s television specials (My Name is Barbra, Color Me Barbra, The Belle of 14th Street, and A Happening in Central Park). In 1965, John won an Art Directors and Set Decorators Emmy Award for his work on My Name is Barbra. He went on to do set design for Barbra's segment on the Earth Day Special in 1990, and he was production designer for Streisand's 1996 film The Mirror Has Two Faces.
For Color Me Barbra, John designed the circus tent set by illustrating it in watercolor and gouache on paper.
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