July 25, 1967
Where has Raggedy Ann gone, now that Jason's come?
Produced by Ira Mothner
WHAT HAS BECOME of the Raggedy Ann girl now that Barbra's a mother? Where is the happy-go-sloppy lass whose funny-valentine charm and waif's wardrobe made her a happening before she was a star? Barbra had campy fancies, a brazen innocence that won us, while her songs slipped past our guard to fiddle with our innards. "I was born in Madagascar, reared in Rangoon," the girl from Flatbush used to tell anyone over egg rolls or rice pudding, between flings at Zen or Greek poetry.
Even when the thrift-shop dresses went, we hoped dear Raggedy would stay on, uncomfortable in frocks from Bergdorf, Scaasi and Dior. But the bedside icebox is busted, and Barbra's lost her yen for coffee ice cream at all hours. Even the dropped "a" is back, and she's plain Barbara to those who get her very personal stationery. So the mothers of happily nutty girls can take heart. Their young daughters should only marry nice boys, like Elliott Gould, and have babies and they'll stop being such kooks.
Not success, but Jason Emanuel Gould (born Dec. 29, 1966), who weighed in at a hefty seven pounds, 12 ounces, has sent Raggedy packing. "My son," blurts Barbra, full of postpartum pride, "what a marvelous phrase, 'my son,' what a total accomplishment. I loved being pregnant. I felt productive for nine months. If I were queen, the country would never find fault with me. I produced an heir."
Jason gets no lullabies. "I don't like to sing," Barbra claims, but she bugs him a lot, swooping in over his bassinet and quizzing, "Who's that boy ? What are you doing? Where are you going?" He puts up with high-decibel affection, grins and seems to enjoy his well-documented infancy. "I take pictures every Thursday, on his birthday," says Mama, who also tapes his giggles, hiccups and grunts.
"I never figured I could have a baby," admits Barbra. "It's a whole new me, a normal me." Yet she was among the last to know she was pregnant. Elliott didn't tell her until after Funny Girl opened in London.
She's had plenty of time to learn the motherhood game. Barbra's a fast study. She feeds and bathes the baby herself, in the violet-floored, pointillist-papered nursery off the kitchen. "I feel terrible when I miss his bath," and must leave it to the nurse.
Popping supper into Jason, she saves the last spoonful for herself. "I love baby food." Only, Jason doesn't leave much in his porringer; he's the greedy feeder Mommy never was. Not that Mrs. Streisand didn't try to get food into her children: She once chased Barbra's brother Sheldon around the apartment with his dinner while he pedaled ahead on a small two-wheeler.
Barbra remembers a hot-water bottle she used as a doll, and can't see swamping Jason with expensive toys. "He can play with a walnut or explore the carpet" (a glorious, pale-green Aubusson). "Silly people say, 'I hope your child has a good voice.' Who cares? The last thing I want him to do is go into the theater."
It's trauma time for Sadie the poodle, up at Barbra's penthouse duplex on Manhattan's West Side. A stuffed-looking fluff ball (a lady comes once a month to do her), she was the baby before Jason arrived. "Sadie, come get your breakfast," the intercom still tempts, and the dog deserts her pink teething ring (Jason's is blue) to head for chow.
There are bits and pieces of the funny, old Barbra about the place: penny gum machines in the kitchen, a rack of stick candy jars in the study, the celebrated golden bagel (Elliott's gift when she left Funny Girl). But the apartment's filling up fast, and Barbra wants to move. A whirlwind decorator, she's already planning for the new place. She wants a soda fountain "with all those things for seltzer." But it will have to be one of the old marble-top, ice-cream parlor kind. "We bought a Victorian bar, with a footrail, for this place. Only, we couldn't get it through the door." She had started furnishing in "crazy Victorian," now describes the decor as "crazy French." The Aubusson rug clinched the switch—after the living room was finished. So, tweed walls were paneled, and tweed and velvet draperies came down.
It's a crowded home, but comfortable, with a wide-angle view of Central Park, gold records and abattoir nudes on the wall, and well-armed candelabra with candles askew. Barbra doesn't like to leave the apartment, or the baby. "I feel bad about having to go to work. My mother worked, and when she went out, I was afraid she'd be hit by a car or something, and I'd be alone."
"I'd like to work as little as possible," she says, and has fantasies about what it would be like to be "born wealthy. There's something decadently great about it. I'd be able to go to Paris twice a year." Yet she plans vacations, "cut off from everybody, with nothing to do but eat, sleep, read and swim." The Goulds don't own a country place, and they don't own a city place. But, she boasts, "We have a Bentley."
Much as she'd rather have loafed, Barbra started on her fall TV special as soon as she got her figure back. "I kind of forgot how to sing," she protests. "I don't want to sing," (She's always saying that.) She never studied to be a singer. "I sing from my will. My voice is an extension of me. It does what I want it to do. People ask me, 'How do you hold notes so long?' I tell them it's because I want to." But that makes it sound too easy. "So much goes into it, and you say you'll never do it again." But she has a need to perform, "and the need is so great it's painful."
Nor will it get easier. It never does when you're on top, and there's nobody bigger than Barbra on the stage, TV or records. She's cautious these days, and doesn't like people around when she's rehearsing. She censors herself at interviews : "When you show vulnerability, it gets distorted." Sounding a little fed up with fame, she complains, "You get built up, and the world knows so much about you. Then, all at once, it's over, and the public is looking for new kooks."
She seems to miss the early days, when her improbable conceits were fresh, and she talks about a New Yorker piece written then (a long five years ago) that caught her at her frenzied best. She remembers that one because, "he said I was beautiful."
Everyone knows she's beautiful now (Brooklyn's Nostrand Avenue Nefertiti), but we had to be told because she isn't pretty. She used to worry about that, but it didn't stop her crossing over from Flatbush right after graduation at Erasmus Hall High School. She was just one of the thousands of girls, raised on dreams and movie magazines, who come glory-bound to the far side of the East River. There's a kind of mythical pre-destiny in the tale of the girl who slept in a press-agent's office, brought mason jars full of chicken soup from home, studied acting (under the unlikely name of Angelina Scarangella) and scored in a Greenwich Village talent show—as a singer. From there, it was all whipped cream: twenty great minutes in I Can Get It for You Wholesale; meeting and marrying Elliott, Wholesale's star; clubs, records, Funny Girl and TV.
"A funny thing happened to me on the way to acting—I became a singer."
But she still dreams ("I know reality, but prefer my imagination") of playing Juliet or Hedda Gabler. And to her, a star means a movie star. That's next. In Hollywood, where Brooklyn talent makes it big (Danny Kaye, the Dodgers), she's ready to start her first flick, Funny Girl. She's set to star in Hello, Dolly! and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever ($35 million worth of movies, and she's never made a minute of film).
"Success is the top half inch of a dozen honeydew melons," announces Barbra, now eating high on the melon. But the both-feet-on-the-ground Mommy, who burps her baby with practiced pats ("Isn't he a gas?"), no longer needs the whole world's love. She's got Elliott and Jason and is the first lady of just about everything entertaining. Yet when she turns on the tape, and you hear her again, and it's something like When Sunny Gets Blue, you stop and let it all in. And you murmur a shy "Hi, Raggedy" to the spinning reel of tape.
Barbra Archives Bonus:
The lavender nursing gown and jacket that Streisand wore in the photoshoot for Look Magazine were soldat Julien's Auctions "Her Name is Barbra" Auction in 2004 for $1,560.00.
According to Julien's auction catalog, the full length, two-piece lavender polyester ensemble by Character-Matej, including a full length nightgown, were trimmed in scalloped ivory lace. The gown had a snap closure at neckline and matching bow. Barbra purchased this set when she was pregnant with her son Jason.
Bob Willoughby Alternate Photos From This Session
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