Kooky Barbra Streisand Isn't Kooky Anymore; She's Grown Up
April 13, 1965
by Hal Boyle
Twelve years ago Barbra Streisand was a beatnik kid who made 50 cents an hour as a baby sitter. Today her income is nearer a million dollars a year.
The onetime Flatbush gamin, star of the Broadway musical, "Funny Girl," has become a show world empress.
The girl who once looked like a skinny Jewish gnome now has the grace and imperious profile of a Babylonian queen. Instead of a walkup flat she dwells in a Central Park duplex that has nine glittering chandeliers. Once she dressed like a 1925 mannequin in a lower East Side thrift shop. Now few socialites could match her wardrobe.
But as her 23rd birthday nears, Barbra finds herself still basically unchanged where she feels it counts most—inside.
"No one thing has made life very different for me," she said. "In a way I'm disappointed that it hasn't."
She still misses the kooky days when her ugly duckling dreams of turning into a stage swan seemed a pitiful jest except to her own desperately self-concious self.
"What is suffering to one person is joy to another," she said in her paisley-colored theater dressing room from which hangs a 10th glittering crystal chandelier, the symbol of her stardom.
Gamin Was Gawky
"I went through a lot of adolescent pangs that were critical to me, but I never had to scrub floors or do anything like that.
"I was so gawky no one would hire me as a model. So I worked as a cashier in a Chinese restaurant for $1 an hour and all the chow mein I could eat. I loved that.
"I also licked envelopes for a printing firm for $45.17 a week—and saved $15 of it. I always was saving. The main thing I didn't want to be was a typist. I let my fingernails grow long so I couldn't type."
In addition to her stage earnings, royalties from phonograph albums and other sources of income, Barbra has a contract with CBS television guaranteeing her $5 million over the next 10 years.
"I'm fuzzy about the details, but it gives me creative control over my programs. That's the main thing. I don't have to get sponsor approval.
"Any amount of money over $50,000 confuses me. I feel you can live as well on $25,000 a year as on a million. You can ride in only one limousine at a time.
"I allot myself only $25 a week, and I never spend it all. I like to pay in cash. It gives me a great feeling.
"When I pay by check, I feel like I'm getting it for nothing—because it's just paper."
Maturity has somewhat tamed Barbra's prankishness with which she used to call attention to herself. She remains a loner, given to introspection. Her dark blue eyes smolder, with electric intensity.
Awareness Is Intense
"I see too much," she remarked. "My Awareness is too intense—so I see flaws too readily, and that's bad. I'm impatient and critical of myself and others. I always have so much going on in my mind I don't have enough time for Hellos and Goodbyes—the social formalities."
Here are her likes and dislikes:
"I like chantilly lace and avocados . . . scarey movies and Bartok's violin concerto . . . gardenias and enameled snuffboxes . . . gingerbread and lavender roses . . . Rembrandt paintings and Thomas Mann's novels . . . good shoes, the feel of fur blankets, the smell of Italian cooking . . . studying languages and talking to doctors . . . steak Diane for breakfast, the color of wine but not the taste of it . . . Sundays, when nothing is going on and everything has stopped.
"I dislike fake furs, arriving early to an appointment, crowded streets . . . dirty ashtrays, newspapers lying around, candy with gooey centers . . . eggs, overcooked food, opportunistic people and ladies who smell like flowers instead of like ladies."