Barbra learns rigours of the sound stage

by Harold Heffernan, The Daily Gleaner

August 25, 1967

She didn't believe movie-making could be so arduous as it had been painted. "I thought the whole thing exaggerated, that it was just publicity about people out here working so hard!"

Barbra Streisand slumpled back on a divan in her dressing room at Columbia Studio. She had just finished a furiously swift, one-hour rehearsal of a new dance routine for her own "FUNNY GIRL" now being film-converted and serving as Barbra's bow to the movie trade. She went on:

"I thought this assigment would be more or less a rest for me," she divulged, sipping a tall cool one as she waited for a steak sandwich, which would answer for a luncheon ration — a break, by the way, which director William Wyler requested she limit to 45 minutes. She had reported at six that morning and had just been notified that the same starting time would be in order for the next day - and the next and the next.

Working mother

"This is such a completely different schedule," she said, still in a state of semi-shock. "Already, I'm longing for the days, those good old days, when I can sleep late mornings and be able to do the things around the house that only a mother should be entrusted to. I mean the formula and all that sort of thing."

A typical Streisand day in Hollywood sees the "working mother," as she refers to herself, up before dawn to feed six-month-old Jason before preparing her own self for a hard day at the studio.

Before a chauffeured limousine arrives at her rented Beverly Hills home to drive her crosstown to Columbia, she must breakfast — and that's a big deal in the singing star's life — dress, arrange for all her personal calls and talk with her secretary, Bunny Susman, about the day's appointments, errands, letter, and other projects that may arise from hour to hour.

During the 8 to 12 hours at Columbia, she may work on four or five musical numbers and, sandwiched in, she may sit for makeup and camera tests, wardrobe fittings and spend time in portrait gallery, the latter to fill an inexhaustible cry from the press media for new and "different" art on the 25-year-old show business sensation.

The Streisand time schedule cannot be fixed or narrowed down at anyone's pleasure. "I've found that out — to my complete surprise and sorrow," she commented, now taking the sandwich in her two hands and tackling it enthusiastically, simultaneously glancing at her diamond-encrusted wrist watch to discover that only 10 minutes remained. "When we go into one of those recording sessions," Barbra went on, "it may run for five or six hours - and well into the night."

Hollywood slave-masters

That very afternoon, she said, her Hollywood slave-masters were putting her through the intricate choreography of a ballet parody on the Swan Lake number, while next day they would have her on skates, learning steps for the picture's "roller skate rag."

"All these are mere preliminaries for the actual filming, which is supposed to start next week — if we're lucky enough to be on our feet then," she laughed.

But there's no serious complaint from Barbra.

"To me, being a star is being a movie star. I remember a long time ago when I was a kid. 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 now best movie star. That was my challenge to myself and I hope to see it fulfilled!"

Related: Funny Girl film