The Pop History Dig

“Noteworthy Ladies”
Topics Page: 36 Stories

1950s’ TV Icon

“Dinah Shore & Chevy”

1951-1963

“See-the-USA” ad jingle
defines a TV celebrity &
America’s car culture.

Women’s Rights Icon

“Rosie The Riveter”

1942-1945

A WWII-era image
becomes an icon
for the ages.

Ladies of Rock

“Joplin’s Shooting Star”

1966-1970

Janis Joplin’s last
five years; her music,
life, and legacy.

Music & Advertising

“Selling Janis Joplin”

1995

How Mercedes-Benz
used a Janis Joplin tune to
pitch baby boomers.

Publishing, Politics, Ecology

“Power in the Pen”

1962-1963

Rachel Carson’s book, Silent
Spring, takes on pesticides;
spurs environmental cause.

Magazine Cover Girl

“One Good Shot…”

2011-2012

A Gisele Bündchen cover
photo has repeated use
around the world.

Music, Film, Celebrity

“Bette Davis Eyes”

1981

A top song of the 1980s
tells the story of a
Hollywood legend.

Music & Advertising

“Madonna’s Pepsi Ad”

1989

A Madonna TV ad
stirs controversy
by association.

Annals of Music

“1960s Girl Groups”

1958-1966

The innocent & upbeat
sound that came between
Elvis & The Beatles.

Music & Biography

“Be My Baby”

1960s-2010

The Ronettes & Phil Spector produce a game-
changing new sound.

Annals of Sport

“1930s Super Girl”

Babe Didrikson

When it came to athletics,
there was little that Babe
Didrikson couldn’t do.

Music & Advertising

“Keira & The Zombies”

2014 & The 1960s

A Chanel perfume ad
features Keira Knightley
& a 1960s Zombies’ tune.

Music & Biography

“Taylor Swift, Rising”

2003-2009

A 19-yr-old singer/
songwriter storms the
music charts …and more.

Annals of Music

“The End of The World”

1963

Skeeter Davis sings
a sad song of
unbearable loss.

Music & Advertising

“Google & Gaga”

2011

Lady Gaga’s hit song,
“The Edge of Glory,” is
used in a Google TV ad.

Singing & Acting

“Streisand Rising”

1961-1965

A young girl from Brooklyn
aims at Manhattan and
becomes a music icon.

 Music for The Ages

“Let The River Run”

1988-1989

Carly Simon’s rousing song
for film Working Girl
lifts all boats.

Ladies of Rock

“Motown’s Heat Wave”

1963-1967

Martha & The Vandellas’
dance tune captures teens
& boosts Motown.

In Memorium

“Candle in the Wind”

1973 & 1997

Elton John honors the
memory of Marilyn Monroe
and Princess Diana.

Film Celebrity

“Anna Q. Nilsson”

1920

The story behind a 1920
Photoplay cover girl
& silent film star.

Film, Celebrity, Activist

“Mia’s Metamorphoses”

1966-2010

Mia Farrow’s life changes:
actress-to-activist
& using her fame.

Lady Sings The Blues

“Strange Fruit”

1939

Billie Holiday sings
a haunting song and
has a troubled life.

College Romance

“The Love Story Saga”

1970-1977

Ali MacGraw’s fresh-faced
coed, Jenny Cavilleri, swept
the nation off its feet.

Ladies in Love

“Of Bridges & Lovers”

1992-1995

A best-selling love story
comes to the Big Screen
starring Meryl Streep.

Hollywood, Dance, Film

“Legs: Cyd Charisse”

1950s-1990s

Statuesque beauty of
MGM musicals was a
commanding presence.

Music & Theater

“Memory & Cats”

1981-2010

Aging feline Grizabella,
in Cats, sings a painful,
poignant “Memory.”

TV & Civil Rights

“When Harry Met Petula”

April 1968

Pet Clark & Harry Belafonte
made civil rights history
challenging a Chrysler v. p.

Female Celebrity & Politics

“Linda & Jerry”

1971-1983

Linda Ronstadt meets
Jerry Brown as her
music career soars.

Music & Politics

“Barracuda Politics”

2008

Sarah Palin campaign music
at Republican convention
riles rock group, Heart.

Determined Performer

“Rocker Supreme”

1958-2008

The tough times, amazing
comeback, and true grit
of Tina Turner.

Silent Film Star

“Pearl White”

1910s-1920s

A daredevil heroine
of the silent screen
becomes a big star.

The First Film Star

“A Star Is Born”

1910s

Early film studios create
the first movie star,
Florence Lawrence.

Feisty Film Goddess 

“Ava Gardner”

1940s-1950s

North Carolina country
beauty becomes Hollywood
box office gold.

Supermodel Stardom

“The Most Beautiful Girl”

1993-2012

Gisele Bündchen becomes
modeling sensation;
earns $33 million in 2006.

Sex In Advertising

“G.E.’s Hot Coal Ad”

2005

Mad Av’s sexy miners
give coal biz a glamour
that’s not exactly real.

Recording Artist

“Hello Stranger”

1963

Barbara Lewis brings
a “smooth jazz” sound
to the mid-1960s.

 

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this Website

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Date Posted: 16 September 2014
Last Update: 16 September 2014
Comments to: jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “Noteworthy Ladies: 36 Stories,”
PopHistoryDig.com, September 16, 2014.


____________________________________

 






“Streisand Rising”
1961-1965

Kismat Konnection rip

Barbra Streisand during rehearsal for 'Funny Girl' in New York City, January 1964. (AP photo)
Barbra Streisand during rehearsal for 'Funny Girl' in New York City, January 1964. (AP photo)
     Between 1963 and 1965, at a time when rock and roll music was overwhelming just about everything in sight, a little known singer named Barbra Streisand managed to put not just one, but seven albums of American standards on the Billboard top-selling music charts.  How this came to be, and the story of Streisand’s rise to stardom in those years, is sometimes overlooked in her long and accomplished career.

     Born in 1942 and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Barbra Streisand had a tough start in childhood.  Her father, a grammar school teacher, died when she was 15 months old.  Her mother — left with young Barbra and an older son Sheldon — took a job as a bookkeeper and moved in with her parents.  As a little girl growing up, Barbra sang in the hallways of her apartment building.  “Barbra started to sing as early as she could talk,” her mother later recalled.  Young Barbra set her sights on becoming an actress, framed in part by what she saw on television.  In 1949, her mother remarried, to Louis Kind — a step-father of conflict for Barbra and not a happy time. A sister, Roslyn, was born in 1951. 

Young Barbra, 1950s.
Young Barbra, 1950s.
    In school, Barbra sang in the choir, got good grades, but did not date or seek to be popular and was pretty much a loner.  She worked part-time jobs — at a Chinese restaurant and as an usherette in a local theater, the latter to see the latest films.  She kept to her dream of becoming an actress, attended local playhouses and summer acting camps. Barbra’s mother did not encourage her daughter to pursue a career in show business. In fact, she told Barbra she was not attractive enough to succeed. However, she did take her once to audition as a child, and also later to make acetate recordings in Manhattan.

     In 1959, Barbra graduated high school, fourth in her class, but did not attend college.  With her sights set on acting, she moved to Manhattan.  She was 17 years old.

 

Vagabond Days

Barbra Streisand at the Bon Soir nightclub, 1960.
Barbra Streisand at the Bon Soir nightclub, 1960.

     During her early days in Manhattan, Streisand occasionally lived with friends, carrying a folding cot around.  She was something of a vagabond and dressed in the latest thrift-store chic.  She worked odd jobs and tried to enter the famous Actors Studio, but failed.  She tried some off-Broadway acting, appearing in one play that ran only a few times.  Although her heart was set on acting, in June 1960 she entered and won a singing competition at a local Greenwich Village bar, the Lion, with no singing experience.  “They laughed when she stood up to the microphone,” Pete Hamill would later write of the audience’s reaction to her clothes and her first club appearance, “but when she sang there was no contest.” “They laughed when she stood up to the micro-phone, but when she sang there was no contest.”  
                      - Pete Hamill
She then put together a night club act with the help of a friend and began performing in other Greenwich Village gay bars, such as The Bon Soir, where she was well received.  By 1961, she began venturing beyond Manhattan, appearing in clubs such as the Caucus Club in Detroit, the Crystal Palace in St Louis, and the Town and Country Towers room in Winnipeg, Canada.  Those who heard her sing were quite taken by her performances and her voice.  But not everyone understood or appreciated her interpretations.  A few early reviewers called her quirky, but one noted “a confidence beyond her years”and predicted that despite her unusual singing style and vintage clothes, she could go “right to the top.”  Back in Manhattan she was attracting a growing following at clubs such as the Bon Soir and the Blue Angel, and in some corners of the music industry. While club performing, she met Jack Paar, the late-night TV talk show host, who asked her to appear on his show.  She made her national TV debut on The Jack Paar Show April 5th, 1961 and made a second appearance on May 22, 1961.


Mike Wallace & Broadway

     Streisand also began appearing on a late night New York-based TV talk show called PM East, a show that Group W and Westinghouse created to compete with Jack Parr.  One of the hosts of that show was Mike Wallace, later of 60 Minutes fame, but with whom Streisand struck a chord.  Her first show there was in July 1961, and she became something of regular, appearing more than a dozen times through 1961 and 1962.  On the show, in addition to singing, she also became known as a talkative and sometimes zany guest, engaging Wallace and the others in lively exchanges.  By December 1961, she had also prepared an audition tape of her club songs for RCA Records, but no contract was offered. 

Barbra Streisand, 1962.
Barbra Streisand, 1962.
    In 1961, after some Broadway auditions in the late fall, she landed a small acting and singing part as a secretary in the musical I Can Get It For You Wholesale, a Depression-era story about a unscrupulous businessman in the garment district.  When the show opened on Broadway on March 22, 1962, Streisand had the stage to herself in one scene doing a song and skit bemoaning her secretarial plight.  She gave a spirited performance, which by one account brought audience attendee Leonard Bernstein to his feet applauding wildly.  Bernstein was sitting in the VIP orchestra section that night, and the audience agreed with his reaction, giving Streisand a sustained ovation for her performance.  “What we had witnessed, and what brought Bernstein’s enthusiasm,” wrote John Bush Jones also in the audience that night, “was the Broadway debut of an unknown nineteen-year-old performer named Barbra Streisand.”  Streisand was later nominated for, but did not win, a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.

Barbra Streisand signing recording contract with Columbia's Goddard Lieberson, Oct 1962.
Barbra Streisand signing recording contract with Columbia's Goddard Lieberson, Oct 1962.
     Streisand continued making TV appearances during 1962 — NBC’s Today Show in April 1962, CBS’s The Garry Moore Show in May 1962, and four times on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson between August and early December 1962.  Her recording career was also taking a turn for the better.  By the fall of 1962, three record labels were interested: Atlantic, Capitol, and Columbia.  Capitol made an offer, but Streisand agreed to sign with Columbia on October 1st, negotiating creative control over her material and album covers.  That fall she was also auditioning for new Broadway shows.  But it was her appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show December 16, 1962 singing “My Coloring Book” and “Lover, Come Back To Me” that helped introduce Barbra Streisand to a larger, more mainstream national audience.

 

Barbra Streisand's 1st studio album, Feb 1963.
Barbra Streisand's 1st studio album, Feb 1963.
    On February 25, 1963, her first studio album for Columbia Records was released, The Barbra Streisand Album, which included her interpretations of eleven pop standards.  The album was very well received and first appeared on the Billboard albums chart the week of April 13, 1963.  It would peak at #8 on that chart and 18 months later achieved “gold” sales status — i.e., 500,000 copies or more.  It would also win 1963 Grammy Awards for Album of The Year and Best Female Vocalist. One of the album’s songs, “Happy Days Are Here Again,” wasn’t much more than a jingle before Streisand’s interpretation — “sung so slowly that suddenly all the hidden irony and banality of it come shaking out like loose nails,” wrote one reporter in Time magazine. The Barbra Streisand Album, meanwhile, remained in the Top 40 for 74 weeks.

Barbra Streisand meeting JFK at White House Press Correspondents dinner, May 1963.
Barbra Streisand meeting JFK at White House Press Correspondents dinner, May 1963.
          Through the spring of 1963, she continued doing the night club circuit — Miami’s Eden Roc, The hungry i in San Francisco, and Basin Street East in New York where she opened for bandleader Benny Goodman.  TV appearances continued as well — Johnny Carson in early March 1963, a repeat appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, March 24, 1963, and The Dinah Shore Show, May 12, 1963.  Among those who saw Streisand’s performance on Dinah Shore was President John F. Kennedy, resulting in an invitation for her to sing at the White House Press Correspondents Dinner on May 24, 1963, when she met Kennedy.  Columbia Records, meanwhile, in April, had re-released Streisand’s “Happy Days” song for radio play to gain her more public exposure.  By July 1963, a young Pete Hamill was writing about Streisand’s rising star — “Goodbye Brooklyn, Hello Fame” — in The Saturday Evening Post.  That summer, she landed the role to play the famed comedienne Fanny Brice in the Broadway musical Funny Girl, slated to open in early 1964.

Barbra Streisand's 2nd studio album, Aug 1963.
Barbra Streisand's 2nd studio album, Aug 1963.
     The Second Barbra Streisand Album was released in August 1963, surpassing the first, jumping into the Top Ten on the Billboard charts and peaking at #2.  The record stayed at the #2 spot for three weeks and was certified gold after 13 months.  By late September 1963, after completing a good month of performances at Hollywood’s Cocoanut Grove, Barbra Streisand was commanding a nightclub salary of $15,000 a week.  Throughout 1963, she had played at clubs all across the country.  Reported Look magazine that November: “From coast to coast, hypnotized patrons line up outside nightclubs to hear her almost overwhelming presentations of such items as ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’ and ‘Cry Me a River’.  She puts every nerve ending, muscle tendon and female oomph unit she has into a song; at the end of an evening, the audience is washed out.”  Two major TV appearances came as well — one on NBC’s Bob Hope Comedy Special, broadcast September 27, 1963 and the other on October 6, 1963 on The Judy Garland Show (CBS).  Her performance on Judy Garland’s show would earn Streisand an Emmy nomination for Best Variety Performance, the first time a guest star had ever received such an honor.

     In mid-January 1964, Funny Girl had its first public showing in Boston, but it bombed, in part because of a snow storm, but also poor reviews.  The play was reworked by Jerome Robbins, who gave Streisand more songs and comedy, placing more of the show’s success or failure on her performance.  Meanwhile, her third album — simply titled The Third Album — was released in February 1964.  The cover featured a photo of Streisand performing from The Judy Garland Show.  This album was also a hit, reaching #5 on Billboard’s album chart.  It also certified gold.


'Saturday Evening Post', 21 March 1964.
'Saturday Evening Post', 21 March 1964.
Rock ‘n Roll

     Streisand was pumping out her repertoire of old standards at a time when the rock ‘n roll revolution was underway.  The market for rock ‘n roll music was exploding, transforming the music industry and changing popular culture.  In the early 1960s, “girl groups”such as the Shirelles and Crystals were prominent on the singles charts, and by 1963, the Angels, the Chiffons, and Martha and Vandellas were making their mark.  Jan & Dean, the Four Seasons, Little Stevie Wonder, and the Supremes had hits too.  In 1964, the Beatles took over much of the popular scene, following their February 9th appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show  — the first of three.  By early April 1964, Beatles singles held the top five spots on Billboard’s Hot 100 — among them, “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and “Please, Please Me.” Other artists, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, the Beach Boys, and various Motown groups, were also cranking out new songs and albums.  But Streisand’s standards held their own, especially on the Billboard album chart.  And there was more to come.


Funny Girl Fame

Barbra Streisand, star of 'Funny Girl,' Time cover story, 10 April 1964.
Barbra Streisand, star of 'Funny Girl,' Time cover story, 10 April 1964.
     By late March 1964 Funny Girl had opened on Broadway and the play and Barbra Streisand received glowing notices.  She was later nominated a second time for a Tony award — Best Actress in a Musical.  In early April 1964, Capitol Records — not her label, Columbia — recorded the original cast album for Funny Girl in New York.  Most of the songs on the 17-track album were those of Streisand’s from the play.  Capitol rush-released the album in mid-April 1964 and it quicky sold 400,000 copies in one month, making it the fastest selling Capitol record up to that time.  Then she appeared on the cover of Time’s April 10th edition, featured in a story simply titled “The Girl,” touting her acting and singing talents in Funny Girl.  “Her impact was instant and stunning,” wrote Time of her performance, adding, however, that her looks were nothing special. But her on-stage moxie was.  “People start to nudge one another and say, ‘This girl is beautiful,'” explained Time, describing how early audiences were discovering her.  Streisand knew she didn’t have the knock-out good looks that might smooth her way to stardom.  Some even suggested she have a surgeon attend to her nose, to which she replied: “That would be cheating. It wouldn’t be natural, know what I mean?” With Streisand it was the talent, the voice, and the energy that came through.  The glamour came, too.

Barbra Streisand, Life magazine cover story, 22 May 1964.
Barbra Streisand, Life magazine cover story, 22 May 1964.
     In May 1964, she was on the cover of Life magazine, featured in a story with her then husband, actor Elliot Gould, whom she had met in I Can Get It For Your Wholesale.  Wrote reporter Shana Alexander in her profile: “Today, Barbra Streisand is. . .Cinderella at the ball, every hopeless kid’s hopeless dream come true. . . Even more remarkable is the sudden nationwide frenzy to achieve the Streisand ‘look'” — from hair style to eye make-up.  By late June 1964, Barbra Streisand had signed a $5 million deal with CBS. By late June 1964, Barbra Streisand had signed a $5 million deal with CBS to do as many as ten TV music specials. Meanwhile, her album People, released on September 1, 1964, knocked the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night album out of the no.1 spot. The People album also won Streisand her 2nd consecutive Grammy for Best Female Vocalist. By October 31, 1964 — a time when the rock and roll genre was growing and getting stronger — there were five Barbra Streisand albums on the Billboard albums chart.

Barbra Streisand's 1964 single 'People' hits No. 5.
Barbra Streisand's 1964 single 'People' hits No. 5.
     In addition to competing with Beatles’ albums such as A Hard Day’s Night which had been released in June, there were a number of other rising artists with new albums.  Among these, for example, were the Beach Boys with their All Summer Long album released in mid-July.  In August, both the Animals from the U.K. and Bob Dylan had new albums.  October brought still others: The Kinks’ You Really Got Me, the Rolling Stones’ 12×5 album, and the debut album of Simon & Garfunkel, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. Sam Cooke’s Ain’t That Good News came out in December 1964.  And there were others.  Still, amid this, Streisand’s work rose in the popular arena. Her release of the single “People,” for example, climbed into the Top 40 in late May 1964, peaking at #5, but remaining on the Top 40 list for 12 weeks through August.

 

LBJ to Top-of-The-Charts

     In 1965, Streisand began the year by entertaining newly elected President Lyndon Johnson at the Democratic Inaugural Gala on January 18th in Washington, D.C.  On April 4th she attended a civil rights fundraiser in Selma, Alabama where she sang “That’s A Fine Kind of Freedom.” A week later, at the Grammys she took home the Best Female Vocalist award for “People.”At a civil rights fundraiser in Selma, Alabama she sang “That’s A Fine Kind of Freedom.” A week after that, on April 14th, she completed the taping for her first TV production, “My Name Is Barbra,” a one-woman musical special entirely her own show without any guest stars.  Some people at CBS feared the program would be a disaster. When it aired on April 28th, the critics loved it and it earned high audience ratings (see video clip). The TV show was followed by the companion album, My Name Is Barbra, released in May 1965.  A single from the this album, “My Man,” released in June 1965, made the Billboard Hot 100 in July, peaking at #79 and remained on the chart for six weeks.  Her first TV show meanwhile, was nominated for five Emmy Awards, winning all five at the September ceremony, including two for Streisand herself.

Barbra Streisand's 1965 single makes Billboard in July.
Barbra Streisand's 1965 single makes Billboard in July.
     Musically in 1965, the rock ‘n roll juggernaut was as strong as ever.  Among artists with No.1 hits that year were: The Beatles, The Supremes, Petula Clark, The Righteous Brothers, The Temptations, The Beach Boys, The Four Tops, The Byrds, Sonny & Cher, The Rolling Stones, and others.  Many of these groups had top albums as well.  In the midst of this, Streisand’s second album in 1965 – My Name is Barbra, Two – was released in October.  It made the Billboard album chart in November, peaking at #2.  It would also sell 500,000 copies and reach gold certification within three months and remain on the charts for 48 weeks.

     On December 1st, 1965, Streisand’s career took a new turn, as she signed her first film contract — a four-picture deal beginning with the film adaptation of Funny Girl, which would not reach the big screen until 1968.  Meanwhile, her albums were selling like crazy, and would continue to sell through the 1960s, boosted in part by her TV specials. In fact, during the decade, nine of her albums would each chart in the Top 10.

Barbra Streisand
Albums: 1963-65

The Barbra Streisand Album
February 1963

The Second Barbra Streisand Album
August 1963

The Third Album
February 1964

Funny Girl (Broadway cast album)
April 1964

People
September 1964

My Name is Barbra
May 1965

My Name is Barbra, Two
October 1965

 

Just Getting Started

     In six short years Barbara Streisand had taken the world by storm. From the early vagabond days of carrying a folding cot around in 1960, to entertaining at the White House and launching her own TV specials in 1965, Barbara Streisand had rocketed to the top of popular music, Broadway, and prime-time television. She was now 23 years old, a millionaire, and one of the world’s most popular female recording artists. But there was still much more to come. There were 30 or more albums ahead, a career in film (acting, directing and producing), mega concert events, political activism, and a whole lot more.

     Barbra Streisand was just getting started.

 

October 1965 - 'My Name is Barbra, Two'.
October 1965 - 'My Name is Barbra, Two'.

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______________________

Date Posted: 10 May 2008
Last Update: 2 Oct 2009
Comments to:
jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “Streisand Rising, 1961-1965,”
PopHistoryDig.com, May 10, 2008.

_____________________________





Sources, Links & Additional Information

See Barbra Streisand’s official website, and any number of other sources, including books, videos, magazine & newspaper articles, websites, and other sources, including those cited below, to learn more about her career.

“Barbra Streisand, 29th AFI Life Achievement Award,” American Film Institute, 2001, AFI.com

John Bush Jones, Our Musicals, Ourselves: A Social History of The American Musical Theater; Brandeis University Press, 2003.

Pete Hamill, “Good-Bye Brooklyn, Hello Fame,”Saturday Evening Post, July 27, 1963.

“Barbra Streisand: New Singing Sensation,” Look, November 19, 1963.

Shana Alexander, “A Born Loser’s Success and Precarious Love,” Life, May 22, 1964 (cover story with cover & inside photos by Milton H. Greene).

Earl Wilson, “Barbra Streisand’s Secret, Once a Chinese Waitress, Reno Evening Gazette, April 1, 1964, p. 16.

James Spada Barbra: The First Decade, the Films and Career of Barbra Streisand, Citadel Press, 1975.

James Spada, Streisand: The Woman and The Legend, Doubleday, 1981.

Randall Riese, Her Name Is Barbra, Birch Lane Press, 1993.

James Spada, Streisand: The Intimate Biography; Time Warner Paperbacks,1996.

Barry Dennen, My Life With Barbra: A Love Story, Prometheus Books, 1997.

Diana Karanikas Harvey and Jackson Harvey, Streisand: The Pictorial Biography, Running Press Book Publishers, 1997.

James Spada, Streisand: Her Life, Random House Value Publishing, 1997.

Barbra Streisand,” Wikipedia.org.

The Barbra Streisand Music Guide,” BJSMusic.com.

Barbra Streisand: The Early TV Appearances,” Barbra-Archives.com.

The Streisand Story,” BarbraFile.com.



 

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