Barbra Streisand’s Book Details Ups and Downs With Mom, Ex Elliot Gould and More

Barbra Streisand Details Ups and Downs With Mom Ex Elliot Gould and More Book Revelations 238
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Barbra Streisand didn’t hold back while writing her long-awaited memoir My Name Is Barbra.

“For forty years, publishers have been asking me to write an autobiography. But I kept turning them down, because I prefer to live in the present rather than dwell on the past,” Streisand wrote in the prologue. “And the fact is, I'm scared that after six decades of people making up stories about me, I’m going to tell the truth, and nobody is going to believe it.”

In the book, which was released on Tuesday, November 7, Streisand opened up about her mom, Diana Streisand, not being supportive as she sought out a career in Hollywood to her success in Funny Girl. In addition to her rise to fame, the EGOT winner got candid about her tumultuous relationship with ex-husband Elliot Gould and more.

My Name Is Barbra is available now. Keep scrolling to read Barbra’s biggest revelations:

Dealing With Comments About Her Looks

As Barbra rose to fame, the actress was subjected to criticism about her appearance. She noted that it felt like her nose “got more press” than she did. The singer claimed that she was told by several unnamed people that she should “get a nose job.” Barbra recalled being compared to a “Babylonian queen” and “basset hound” at points in her career — which ultimately took a toll on her.

“I wish I could say none of this affected me, but it did,” she penned. “Even after all these years, I'm still hurt by the insults and can’t quite believe the praise.”

Her Mom’s Discouragement on Pursuing Acting

While Barbra knew she was talented, she revealed that her mom warned her that she might not find success since she “didn’t look like those other girls in the movies.”

“She was so against me being an actress that it made me feel weird to know she was in the audience watching me,” Barbra confessed. “I dreaded what she might say. And sure enough, she didn’t disappoint me. ‘Mom, what did you think?’ She frowned and said, ‘Your arms are too skinny.’”

During Barbra’s first performance as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, she revealed that her mom wasn’t there for her opening night performance.

“I grew up without her approval, with no support for my dreams,” she wrote. “I don’t remember her ever giving me a compliment.”

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She Never Dated Barry Dennen

Despite Dennen claiming he and Barbra had a relationship in the ‘60s, the actress claimed that the pair were only friends. The duo connected earlier in her career and she revealed that Dennen was “one of the first men” who would “pay attention” to her. When he wrote his 1997 book, My Life With Barbra: A Love Story, Barbra confessed she was “so hurt” that he “made up this crazy love affair.”

Compromising on Her Name Change

Barbra — whose real name is spelled Barbara — revealed that when she was starting out in the industry casting agents suggested that she change her name.

“They wanted something simpler … Barbara Strand or Sands … but that felt phony,” she recalled. “Plus, how would my old friends know it was me, once I became famous?”

Instead, Barbra decided to remain true to herself and simply just change the spelling of her first name so she could be “different and unique.”

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Her Relationship With Elliot Gould

Barbra confided that she wasn’t attracted to Gould when they first met, admitting that her connection with the actor changed and he “became more than a friend” over time. As their relationship progressed, the duo wore rings as a symbol of their romance. Despite not having a legal ceremony, Elliot referred to the couple as being “spiritually married.”

“I loved Elliott. He was familiar to me … from Brooklyn, down-to-earth. But I still wasn’t sure I was ready for marriage,” she wrote. “After all, I was only twenty-one, and he was my first serious boyfriend. I didn’t want this marriage thing to become a big deal.”

However, Barbra ended up changing her mind one day and suggested they wed. The pair took off to Las Vegas for their nuptials. Three years later, Barbra learned she was pregnant with her and Gould’s son Jason.

“The news was a shock. Elliott and I had lived together since I was nineteen, and now I was about to turn twenty-four,” she shared. “For years I had honestly thought there was something wrong with me, because I had never gotten pregnant. Having a baby seemed like something for other women, not for me.”

Gould and Barbra’s relationship began to shift as they began to focus more on their careers, spending less time together.

“And the truth is, I don’t think either of us was too upset about the separation. Something had changed between us,” she reflected, adding that she “didn’t miss him as much” as she should have after he relocated to New York.

Barbra and Gould split in 1971 right before the Oscars but the twosome still attended the event together. The actress noted she wasn't “ready for marriage in 1963” but was “very ready for a legal separation.”

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Landing Funny Girl

Barba found out that Anne Bancroft was supposed to lead the musical but wanted “no part” of the show after she realized she couldn’t sing the songs. Carol Burnett was allegedly also interested in the role but turned it down since it was meant for “a Jewish girl.’”

After being cast, Barbra said she wanted to learn more about who her character, Fanny Brice, was in order to better portray her on stage.

“Once I read Fanny’s own words, I realized that she and I were so alike it was almost scary,” she penned.

Her Fling with Sydney Chaplin

During Funny Girl, Barbra claimed she had an affair with costar Sydney Chaplin, son of Charlie Chaplin. She ultimately came clean to Gould and called off her relationship with Sydney. However, Barbra alleged that after their breakup, Sydney cursed her out and became unbearable to work with.

“It was becoming a nightmare. Now, every night at seven-thirty as I prepared to go on, I felt sick to my stomach,” she wrote. “It wasn’t only the pressure of having to live up to the audience's expectations. Now I also had to deal with a new enemy … my costar.”

Barbra shared that she contemplated quitting the show as she started to have “panic attacks” but ultimately powered through.

“I knew in my heart that I would never be back on a Broadway stage again,” she said of her final performance, while noting that the experience with Sydney “had been so traumatizing.”

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Barbra Streisand. Screen Archives/Getty Images

Balancing Work and Motherhood

While on the set of A Star Is Born, her son visited her during filming. While there, Jason allegedly told Barbra that Gould said she was “working too many long hours” and not seeing her child enough.

“Woah! That was a stab in my heart. And my guilt, always lurking, kicked right in,” she confessed. “I was angry at Elliott for criticizing me in front of our son, rather than supporting me.”

Her Bond With King Charles III

Barbra shared that she was invited to stay with the monarch at his Highgrove home in 1995, and noted that he was a “gracious host.” The actress also alleged she that Charles revealed he had a poster of her in his room at Cambridge. According to Barbra, the twosome are still close and have exchanged birthday presents.

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Falling in Love With James Brolin

While previously unlucky in love, things changed for Barbra after her friend Christine Peters set her up with James Brolin in 1996. When the pair first met at a dinner party, she critiqued his hair and he instantly fell in love with her.

“It was unusual for me to get this close to someone so quickly. But Jim wasn’t intimidated by me,” she confessed. “In fact, he was very supportive and said, I want to empower you.”

While Brolin knew right away he wanted to tie the knot with Barbra, she needed more time The couple ultimately wed in July 1998 on the same day they initially met.