By Christopher Andersen
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Extra resources for Barbra: The Way She Is
I guess it was my ﬁrst musical improvisation,” said Barbara, who a half century later was still holding on to that ﬁrst recording. Once she got home and heard her improvisational take on the Alice Faye standard, Barbara asked herself, “Who was that? Where did that come from? ” At school, Barbara’s talents—and her personality—remained largely hidden from view. Unsure of whom to talk to, not quite ﬁtting into any of the school’s varied cliques, she simply kept to herself. While her peers congregated in the hallways between classes, B A R B R A 4 1 she invariably stood off to one side clutching her books, alone and apart.
Though she would never know him, Emanuel Streisand was, by all accounts, a remarkable man. So, too, was Barbra’s paternal grandfather Isaac, a tailor who had grown up in Brzezany, a tiny village in the impoverished Polish province of Galicia. Only 10 percent of the population in Galicia was Jewish, and Isaac Streisand lived under the perpetual threat of violence from his Catholic neighbors. In 1898, at the age of seventeen, Isaac boarded the SS Meier in the German port city of Bremen. Three weeks later, after disease had claimed the lives of several of his fellow passengers in steerage, Isaac Streisand arrived at Ellis Island.
I would ask her things that my mother never told me. ” At one point, Muriel Choy began talking to the wide-eyed girl about sexual positions. ” Barbara asked. “Not necessarily,” Choy replied. ” Barbara responded. It was an exchange Streisand would remember for the rest of her life. For the moment, Barbara was less interested in the opposite sex than she was in pursuing her dreams of stardom. Incredibly, the ﬁfteen-year-old persuaded her mother to let her take the subway into Manhattan several nights a week and on weekends so she could work as an unpaid apprentice at the Cherry Lane Theater in Greenwich Village.
Barbra: The Way She Is by Christopher Andersen