Reincarnation Ball Puts Filmland Egos on Display

January 9, 1969

by Joyce Haber

Mengers, Glaser, and Streisand in costume at Ball

Photo, above: A rare shot of Sue Mengers (Streisand's agent), Fred Glaser (Streisand's hairdresser in the 1960s) and Barbra in costume as Colette at the Paramount Studio's Reincarnation Costume Ball which took place in January 1969.

It was the Reincarnation Ball (“come as the person you would like to have been in a previous life”), and Hollywood's egos were out.

Groucho Marx came as Groucho. Polly Bergen and Raquel Welch knew how to surprise: Polly by not coming as a turtle, and Raquel by showing up fully clothed—indeed, wrapped to her high cheekbones in scarves.

Streisand arrives at the party

Raquel was Katharine Hepburn in plaid slacks, white socks, and Buster Brown shoes, wisps of red hair showing below the scarf around her head.

Polly was Queen Elizabeth I (not Bette Davis) in a short, brillo-coiled wig, and one of those gowns with a neck-like waist and a skirt coming out like shoulder blades, and just as solid.

The affair was admittedly a publicity stunt—a party to publicize Paramount's multi-million dollar musical, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, which started shooting this week with Barbra Streisand and Yves Montand.

(Photo, below: Barbra's manager Marty Erlichman in costuem, and Streisand in her Colette costume)

Marty Erlichman and Barbra Streisand

Fred Glaser and Streisand

Lace Tablecloths

Polly Bergen and Streisand

The place was supposed to look like a Nineteenth Century ballroom but, with its lace tablecloths and planted urns, it looked more like one of those dining rooms you still see in the Twentieth Century in hotels in Southampton and Newport.

The recreation of a resort took two weeks, 15 men, and cost close to $10,000. That included the night show, but not the Hilton filet mignon.

Alan Jay Lerner came dressed as a character from the Moulin Rouge, but he confused everyone by wearing a 10-gallon hat. His lovely, dark-haired Karen was Jane Avril, of Toulouse-Lautrec time.

Miss Streisand was dressed as Colette in a short blond brillo-coiled wig and dress resembling the lace tablecloths, but oh, so turn-of-the-century.

Eliza Dolittle

Barbara Perkins was there in a high-throated dress (as Eliza Dolittle), but she wasn't with either Bob Evans or Omar Sharif. Omar came alone, wearing his Che Guevera costume, beard and all. He was accompanied by a blonde in a see-through dress.

Looking devilish was producer Howard Koch, in wide leather gaiters and buckskin. Howard was Tom Mix, hero of his childhood. His wife, Ruth, all but stole the show in flapper chiffon and bee-stung lips as “it” girl Clara Bow.

Director Vincente Minnelli cut a dashing, all-but unrecognizable figure as Garibaldi.

(Below: Streisand with Clint Eastwood and Yves Montand)

Cecil Beaton and Streisand at Reincarnation Costume Ball

[...] Guest of honor Yves Montand wore a top hat and carried a cane as the infamous French thief Arsene Lupin, and designer Cecil Beaton was a standout, all in white, as a French pastry chef, with penciled eyebrows.Streisand and husband Elliott Gould

Related Pages: Barbra-Archives' “On A Clear Day” movie pages >>