The Stars Salute Israel at 30 (1978)
Aired: May 8, 1978 on ABC
Above: Barbra Streisand, lower left, talks with Israel’s Golda Meir by telephone during “The Stars Salute Israel at 30” in Los Angeles, May 7, 1978. The satellite phone call was the finale to the show that featured many Hollywood entertainers and was to help celebrate Israel’s 30th anniversary. (AP Photo/Wally Fong)
Los Angeles Music Center
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
Los Angeles, California
May 7, 1978
Directed by Marty Pasetta and executive produced and co-written by James Lipton (of Inside the Actors Studio fame), The Stars Salute Israel at 30! was a two-hour gala birthday party for the Jewish-majority state.
Barbra Streisand closed the show, accompanied by Zubin Mehta and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. “She wanted to sing ‘Hatikvah,’ only she didn’t know” the song, writer Buz Kohan told writer Seth Gitell in 2008. Kohan telephoned his wife and asked her to sing the song to Streisand. Kohan remembered the evening fondly by stating that Streisand “was remarkable. Everybody was impressed with the last twenty minutes of the show.”
Barbra Streisand has been a supporter of Israel over the years. During the Six-Day War between Israel and Arab nations in 1967, Streisand contributed money to the Emergency Campaign for Israel. She also sang at a Hollywood Bowl fundraiser that year in support of Israel.
Omar Sharif, Barbra’s costar and an Arab, told a reporter, “When we did Funny Girl during the Six Day War […] a lot of the Arab press naturally said, ‘This man is a traitor. He’s kissing Barbra Streisand who’s giving dollars in favor of Israel.’ There was a lot of press asking, ‘What do you think of this press saying that you kissed Barbra Streisand?’ I said, ‘Nor in my professional nor in my private life do I ask a girl her nationality or her religion before I kiss her. That has nothing to do with it.’”
In 1984, to promote Yentl, Streisand attended the premiere in Tel Aviv. To memorialize her father, Streisand also funded a building at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
The Stars Salute Israel at 30! was performed and taped on May 7, 1978 and broadcast the following evening on the ABC network. An array of celebrities performed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles: Barry Manilow, Bernadette Peters, and mime act Shields and Yarnell contributed to the evening.
Barbra took the stage dressed in a gorgeous, white lace antique dress. She joined Zubin Mehta and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra on stage and draped her lace shawl over a stool and steadied her microphone. Suddenly, some ardent fans screamed, “We love you, Barbra!” which caused Barbra to lose her concentration momentarily. Then, singing the first lines a cappella, she began an incredible version of “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie. (Barbra had recorded a breezy, mellow studio version of “Tomorrow” for her Songbird album, which was released the same month as this performance). The Israel concert version of the song, however, was more dynamic and included a big finish with a long-held note.
Barbra next sang “People” and “Happy Days Are Here Again.” The cameras focused on the audience at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, as well as those at the Hotel Hilton in Israel, who were watching the show simultaneously via close-circuit television.
Streisand then spoke to Israel's Prime Minister Golda Meir via telephone (available on Just For the Record)—Ms. Meir appeared on a giant television screen in the auditorium. “Golda, I can’t tell you what an honor it is to talk to you and if someone else should call you while we’re talking, it’s all right, you can put me on hold, I wouldn’t mind,” Streisand joked.
After her chat with Gold Meir, Barbra sang “Hatikva”—the national anthem of Israel. When she finished the song, the audience did not applaud, as they were being respectful. Barbra said goodbye in several languages, flung her shawl over her shoulder, and left the stage.
Over 18 million people watched the show on ABC that evening.
In 2004, the lace skirt that Barbra wore at the concert was auctioned for $900.00. The auction description said it was a “full length antique style skirt, shell being pink taffeta with lace trim at the bottom, overlay of cream lace and sheer organdy net, decorative ribbon woven through portions of the skirt, lace in floral and leaf design, featuring crocheted lace ‘B’ at the front knee level, zipper and hook in back.”
[ top of page ]