Roslyn and Diana Kind in apartment


Barbra and Rozie's Mother Used to Hope for Her Own Name Up in Lights

by Judy Klemesrud

February 23, 1970, NYT

WHEN Mrs. Diane Kind was a youngster growing up in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, she used to lie in bed at night and dream about becoming an actress or ballerina or prima donna.

But she was really too short at 4 feet (now she's 5 feet 1 inch) to get anywhere in show business, so she pushed her dreams aside and settled down to being a housewife who sang along with the radio.

Now and then her two daughters would join in as she sang some of her favorite tunes, "Just in Time" or "It Had to Be You," or "One Kiss."

Today those daughters are best known as Barbra Streisand, superstar; and Roslyn Kind, up-and-coming singing star.

Inherited Talent

"I like to think they got it from me," Mrs. Kind said gleefully as she sat in the living room of the pleasantly decorated, 3-1/2-room apartment she shares with Roslyn on West 58th Street.

"Diane has a beautiful operatic voice," interjected a friend, Miss Ruth Solow, who was visiting. "She's had opportunities to sing and record, too, but she's too modest to talk about them. She sounds a little bit like Jeanette MacDonald."

At that point,, Mrs. Kind got up, walked over to her record player and snapped on Roslyn's latest recording, "Riches," which has a slight ragtime beat. As the music played, Mrs. Kind snapped her fingers and did a modified soft shoe routine in the middle of the room.

"There's nothing like the old-time tunes," she said, beaming.

Mrs. Kind was born Diane Rosen 61 years ago to a cantor who made leather coats in the garment district and a mother who stayed home with her four children.

She went to P.S. 24 and Eastern District High School, from which she was graduated with straight A's at the age of 15.

Barbra Streisand by Sam FalkChanged Spelling

She worked as a secretary in Manhattan for several years before marrying Emanuel Streisand, a high school teacher with a Ph. D. in education. They had two children, Sheldon, now 35 and president of a Manhattan advertising agency, and Barbara, 27, who later dropped the second A from her name.

Mr. Streisand died in 1943, and six years later his widow married Louis Kind, a Brooklyn real estate dealer. They were separated in 1956, and he died last August. They had one child, Roslyn, now 19.

"Rozie gave me the best pleasure," Mrs. Kind said, thumbing through snapshots of her daughter when she was a blond, blue-eyed baby. "'She was a terrific eater. She had a lot of baby fat, and dieted from 180 pounds to 130 after she started singing. But I never noticed those things because I was so happy she was an eater."

Mrs. Kind said that it had come as quite a shock to her when Barbra, after graduating from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, announced she was going to become an actress. Mrs. Kind knew her daughter was a funny girl, but she didn't think Barbra had what it took to make the big time.

"I thought it would be a terrible fiasco," she said. "But I let her move to Manhattan and get an apartment with a girl friend. I would call her all the timeā€”much to her annoyance and find out where she was living so I could bring her chicken soup."

Today Mrs. Kind works five days a week as a secretary at a public elementary school on East 57th Street. She has given up her two weekly singing lessons because of lack of time, but she would like to resume them someday because she still has hopes for a show business career.

"Anything's possible," she said.

She spends much of her spare time visiting her two grandchildren, Erica, 9, who is Sheldon's daughter, and Jason, 3, Barbra's son by Elliott Gould, the actor. The Goulds are now separated, and Barbra has been seen several times in the company of Pierre Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister.

A Lot of Friends

Is it love? "Barbra has a lot of interesting friends," Mrs. Kind said, flashing an inscrutable smile.

The plumpish, blue-eyed brunette said that reports that her two daughters didn't get along were mostly exaggerated.

"Barbra loves Rozie very much," she said. "But Roz was a little shy and didn't know how to approach a big sister who had gotten so famous. When Barbra was in 'Funny Girl' on Broadway, Roz went to 40 matinees and stood through them all. At home she would play the 'Funny Girl' album day and night and imitate Barbra. She was really her best imitator."

Mrs. Kind said she saw Barbra about once a week, and talked to her "constantly on the phone. They were both at Roslyn's opening at the Plaza last December, and afterward the three of them posed for photographers with their arms amiably intertwined. (Both girls resemble their fathers.)

A Surprise Visit

Mrs. Kind said she had recently paid a surprise visit to Barbra on the set here of "The Owl and the Pussycat," in which she plays the part of a prostitute.

"She had on a skimpy costume and was very embarrassed when she saw me," Mrs. Kind said. "I'm really shocked at all these things an actress has to do today. But I guess it's part of the job."

Does she have any particular child-raising tips?

"Spanking," she said, her eyes twinkling. "It saves the psychiatrist's fees. There's a Jewish saying that whenever a child gets spanked, it finally finds its way to the head so the head clears.

"And never give your kids too much praise," she went on. "In fact, I try to tone them down if I see they have an exaggerated opinion of themselves. I just kind of make a remark that calms them down."

At that point Roslyn, who had just come home from a recording session, told how her mother calms her down.

"She says something like, 'Don't forget you got it from me; you didn't fall out of a tree."


[ top of page ]