Streisand Gives Glittery Fundraiser For Bella

by V. Scott

July 29, 1976

Bella Abzug and Barbra Streisand
(Photo: Steve Schapiro)

HOLLYWOOD —There wasn't a male chauvinist to be found at Barbra Streisand's garden party for U.S. Rep. Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.) the other day.

Superstar Streisand had opened her house and her heart to raise funds for Abzug's senatorial campaign at $100 per head.

More than 100 persons, mostly women dressed in mod outfits, sipped booze and nibbled hors d'oeuvres and talked politics at Barbra's palatial estate in Holmby Hills.

It was a disappointing turnout as far as movie and television stars were concerned. Scores of invitations had gone out to Hollywood's brightest personalities. Few showed up.

Don Knotts was there wearing an Abzug campaign button—a silhouette of Abzug's profile wide-brimmed chapeau, her trademark.

“I'm for Abzug,” Knotts said simply.

Jane Fonda was accompanied by her husband Tom Hayden, himself an unsuccessful candidate in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate from California. He was defeated last month by Sen. John Tunney.

Comedian Jack Albertson made jokes out of earshot of his wife Wallace, who ran out of money in the California primary as a candidate for the state assembly from the Beverly Hills area.

“I told her the next time she runs, she'd better run for the hills,” said the co-star of Chico And The Man.

Abzug and Streisand in garden

Mike Farrell, one of the doctors in M-A-S-H and Gail Fisher, who played the secretary on the defunct Mannix series, rounded out the small group of celebrities.

Political fund raisers at private homes are a part of Beverly Hills folklore. They usually are attended by superstars loaded with money and studio executives looking for political clout.

Streisand's party for Abzug was different. The big rich were absent. But those who did attend made up for empty pocketbooks with fervor.

“Bella is a brilliant woman and belongs in the Senate,” said Jane Fonda. “Tom and I are here to support her and do what we can to help.”

Barbra greeted her guests graciously explaining that she first supported Abzug when she was running for Congress on New York's East Side. Abzug was lambasting her oppenents on a sound truck when Barbra joined in the fun.

In mid-evening Barbra approached a micropone rigged in her garden. She said, “Welcome to my home.

“We're here because there's something missing in the Senate. Someone who tells the truth. And that someone is Bella.”

There was a round of applause. Abzug, wearing a flaming red outfit with matching broad brimmed hat, took over.

“It was a great experience to see Barbra on that sound truck helping me get elected,” Abzug said with a New York accent identical to Barbra's. “Nothing has changed. We're back on the lower East Side.”

Abzug was drowned out by an explosion of noise. It was Barbra's huge Doberman pinscher barking furiously from his chain link enclosure.

“Shaddup,” cried Barbra.

A moment of stunned silence followed.

“Not you, Bella,” Barbra laughed. “I was talking to the dog.”

The Doberman persisted while Abzug launched into a political pitch, speaking articulately and humorously and pleasing her small audience mightily.

She spoke about the poor and the miserable housing situation, taking time to note it was strange to discuss housing problems at Barbra's mansion.

“I hopoe you can afford it,” she told Streisand.

Abzug drew a laugh when she said, “Our forefathers wrote a great Constitution even though they forgot about us foremothers.”

She explained why she was determined to be elected to the United States Senate.

“Screw the Senate!" Barbra yelled. “It's the presidency!”

There were cheers and huzzas.

“Next year,” Abzug said. There was time to ask for financial donations and some of the gathering began to melt away.

Below: Left to right ... Abzug, unidentified, Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, Streisand

Abzug and Streisand


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