News Column

Reading Eagle, Pa., George Hatza column

May 5, 2013

YellowBrix

May 05--Hello, gorgeous!

Barbra Streisand, one of the few performers who genuinely can be considered a legend in her own time, spoke those words twice.

The first was a pivotal scene in the film "Funny Girl" (1968), in which, as Fanny Brice, she encounters her mink-draped image in a mirror and responds accordingly.

The second was when she accepted the Oscar statuette as best leading actress for that role (she tied with Katharine Hepburn for "The Lion in Winter") and addressed the little gold guy in her hands with those same words.

Streisand is not a conventional beauty, but that's what makes her so special. At 71 she's a stunner, and she still has the voice that made her career. She has won two Oscars, 10 Grammys, five Emmys and one Tony, not to mention a slew of other honors.

Streisand was in the news recently for having won the Chaplin Award from the Film Society of Lincoln Center for her life's work in the cinema.

The singer-actress boasts a dazzling early career. It began with her Broadway debut at 19 in the musical "I Can Get It for You Wholesale" (1962), which led two years later to "Funny Girl."

Her best film role was as Katie in "The Way We Were" (1973), which celebrated a shrewd gender reversal: The non-WASP girl seduces the untouchably beautiful man (Robert Redford). It's her best dramatic performance, and she earned an Oscar nomination for it. Rent it and revel in the nuance, the emotional strength and yet heartbreaking vulnerability she brings to the role.

There has been talk of a "Funny Girl" revival on Broadway for several years now, but the part is so connected to Streisand that casting someone who can make Fanny Brice her own has become a challenge.

Her work in "Yentl" (1983), in which she directed herself in the title role, was maliciously underrated, I believe. A perfectionist, she had a reputation for being impossibly demanding on the set.

Be that as it may, Streisand is uniquely American, a rare talent and a role model for young women with ambitions of making it in a man's world.

Contact Entertainment Editor George Hatza: 610-371-5075 or ghatza@readingeagle.com.

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(c)2013 the Reading Eagle (Reading, Pa.)

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