Monday, November 13, 2023


Barbra Streisand is opening up about her experience working with Gene Kelly. In one chapter of the Academy Award winner's new memoir My Name Is Barbra, Streisand peels back the curtain on her impressions of Kelly when he directed her in 1969's Hello, Dolly!

In the memoir, Streisand, 81, recalls that she felt a disconnect between herself and Kelly, himself a Hollywood star famous for his roles in Singin' in the Rain, among other Golden Age of Hollywood films.

Streisand, who describes Kelly as a childhood celebrity crush, writes that she did not spend any significant amount of time discussing her character Dolly Levi with her director, though she notes she later discovered the filmmaker felt the whole project was pressed for time, while researching her new memoir.

"I was disappointed when the reality of the man didn’t live up to the fantasy I had from watching him on‑screen," Streisand writes. "One day he was so rude to a female dancer that I asked him privately, 'Why were you so mean to her?' And he basically laughed it off and said, 'Yeah, I was pretty tough on her, but that’s okay. I used to yell like that at another dancer, and she became my wife.' "

Streisand writes that Hello, Dolly!'s co-screenwriter and producer Ernest Lehman "was always receptive" to her ideas and questions on-set. She considered Lehman, who died in 2005 at 89, one of her few allies on the 20th Century Fox production.

"I don’t think I’m paranoid, but I felt as if Gene and Walter [Matthau] had an attitude toward me, and it was not positive . . . especially on Walter’s part," she writes in the memoir. "In fact, he was overtly hostile, and I couldn’t figure out why."

"He closed his eyes and yelled, 'Who the hell does she think she is? I’ve been in this business thirty years, and this is only her second movie . . . the first one hasn’t even come out yet . . . and now she’s directing?' " Streisand recalls Matthau saying. "And then he looked at me with pure venom and said, 'You may be the singer in this picture, but I’m the actor! I have more talent in my farts than you have in your whole body!' "

Streisand writes that she was "stunned" by his comments. "I had no defense," she writes. "I had no words. I just stood there and was so humiliated that I ran off the set, crying. I’m not proud of that."

"I wish I could have answered him back. But I never want to be mean or malicious," Streisand adds in the memoir. "That’s not who I am. I want to be strong, not unkind."

Hello, Dolly! went on to win three Academy Awards at the 1970 Oscars (Best Art Decoration-Set Decoration, Best Sound and Best Score). The film was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Film Editing.

My Name Is Barbra is now available for purchase...

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