Saturday, May 25, 2024

Call Her Barbra: Streisand’s 992 Memoir Reveals Jon Peters’ “Temper Scared Me,” Don Johnson Was Insecure About Singing with Her


Barbra Streisand’s 992 memoir, “Call Me Barbra,” has just hit Kindle. We had to wait for it since her publisher was so uncooperative. Anyway, Barbra’s six decade career is one for the books. She has one child, a son, from her marriage to actor Elliot Gould. She’s been married to James Brolin for 25 years. She’s had hit records in each of the six decades. She’s also directed a bunch of movies, as well as starred in them. She’s done it her way, that’s for sure!

Here are some reveals from the book:

She had a real “A Star is Born” moment with boyfriend actor Don Johnson when they recorded a song together. She writes:

The session in the studio seemed to go well. We were improvising at the end . . . having fun in the moment, and laughing. I had asked Phil Ramone to produce it, and we both liked the way it turned out. Then somehow it all went wrong. Not the duet itself. It was Don’s attitude afterward . . . singing with me apparently made him feel very insecure. And instead of talking about it honestly, he just became very cold, and mistrustful, and angry. I tried to be sympathetic. I certainly had no intention of ruining his career, but it turned out he was concerned about exactly that. It seemed like an overreaction to me, but clearly he was upset, and therefore so was I.

On boyfriend Jon Peters, who went from hairdresser to movie producer:

he’d been telling people for years that he cut my hair. He took credit, in other words, for a cut that was done by Fred Glaser in Chicago. But that’s Jon . . . he had a lot of chutzpah. And clearly he also had a rather tenuous relationship with the truth . . . but I didn’t pay enough attention to that at the time.

Eventually they fell into a relationship:

Jon could also be thoughtless, and sometimes quite mean. We would be driving in the car and I’d say, “Could you please close the window? I’m getting cold.” He’d say, “Get a blanket.” What kind of love is that? (My husband Jim would never say that. Instead he’d quickly close the window and turn on the heat.) I was shocked sometimes by what came out of Jon’s mouth. He said we had hundreds of acres when it was only twenty-four, which was plenty. And he told one reporter that he planted fifty thousand trees and moved forty million tons of rock, but that’s typical of him . . . he always exaggerates. The truth was never enough for him. And he could be so volatile. His temper scared me.

Barbra reveals the fake name she travels under:

Angelina Scarangella. I picked it out of the phone book. I thought it sounded so beautiful, and I used it for years, whenever I wanted to be incognito. At Mount Sinai Hospital, where I gave birth to my son, Jason, I was listed as Angelina Scarangella. And to this day, whenever I do a concert tour, the name on my dressing-room door is Angelina Scarangella. (Now that I’ve told you, I guess I’ll have to come up with something else.)

On winning the Oscar for Best Actress for “Funny Girl” — tying with Katharine Hepburn — but losing Best Picture to “Oliver!”:

I was really disappointed that Funny Girl didn’t win more awards. But the worst was yet to come. When I put on that black net pantsuit back inmy dressing room on the lot, it had looked chic and fun, and everyone had approved. None of us realized that it would turn transparent under the lights. When I saw the footage on TV, I was horrified. It looked as if I had nothing on underneath. (It was actually lined in nude georgette.) I was so embarrassed. And I’m still horrified, thinking about it now. The outfit was more talked about than the fact that I had won the Academy Award. When I called my mother the next day to ask what she thought of my Oscar, all she could say was, “What kind of dress was that to wear in public?” For once, she was right! Katharine Hepburn was kinder. I still have the telegram I received from her:

Dear Barbra, I think that you are really first rate and full of whatever it is and I am proud to share that perch with you for the next year. Incidentally I just hope that osmosis transfers a little of what you have to me.

I returned the gesture by sending her flowers, along with a note: Dear Kate (I feel I should still call you Miss Hepburn), How very nice of you to send me such a lovely wire. I, too, am most honored to share this with you. But there’s one question I have to ask— It’s tough enough being in the same business with you—but do you have to start singing as well!!!! [Hepburn was about to star in the musical Coco on Broadway.] With much admiration, Barbra

More to come…

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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