INTERVIEWS and RADIO (audio)

Over the years All About Barbra has been fortunate to secure many interviews with people who have worked with Barbra.

If you have been buying the magazine for some years,  then likely you already have enjoyed these exclusives. If not here are excerpts from just 4 of them, William Wyler, Amy Irving, photographer Greg Gorman and Richard Lawson.


RADIO INTERVIEWS with Barbra further below.

*The first 3 interviews conducted in person and written by a good friend of mine, journalist, Roald Rynning.

WILLIAM WYLER

A short time before Hollywood's versatile film director William Wyler, sadly passed away at the age of 79, he came to London to give a lecture at the National Film Theatre. Before the lecture, Roald Rynning spoke with him over lunch at the reception.
Although William Wyler was an old, frail man at the time, the most honoured director in the history of the Academy Awards (winner of three Oscars for "Mrs. Miniver", "The Best Years of Our Lives" and "Ben Hur') spoke with great warmth and never-ending enthusiasm about his many wonderful films. "I liked trying different film genres, and I was lucky enough to be able to do this. That's why it's impossible for me to select a favourite picture. How can I choose between "Ben Hur' and "Funny Girl"? They're like night and day, Wyler told me.


"She was the major reason for doing the picture. She intrigued me.


"Funny Girl", of course, was his first musical and his last successful film (he only made one more film, released in '70). He wanted to make it because he had never made a musical before. And because he found Barbra Streisand "a fascinating creature". "She was the major reason for doing the picture. She intrigued me. I had seen her do "Funny Girl" on stage in London the year before we started shooting the film, and I thought, she has made such a hit in other mediums, why not pictures? I wanted to see if her brilliance could be brought to the screen. You see, the true challenge of a director is to extract every nuance of greatness from a performer".
Wyler. of course, had a well-earned reputation for extracting exceptional strong performances from his cast. Thirteen actors have won Oscars for their performances under his direction, among them Bette Davis (Jezebel), Greer Garson (Mrs. Miniver), Frederick March (The Best Years of Our Lives); Audrey Hepburn (Roman Holiday). Charlton Heston (Ben Hur) and Barbra for her dazzling film debut in "Funny Girl".  It seems incredible now, but at the time insiders seriously questioned Streisand's acceptance by the movie-going public.

"I could work her till she dropped, and she would never complain."

"There was pressure and the first few weeks were tense, but nothing terrific", remembered Wyler. "Barbra was frightened but her insecurities soon vanished and she calmed down. This was her first picture and she had a lot to learn, but she responded to direction very well. I had no fears as she gave me everything I wanted and more. She was very professional, very satisfying and absolutely tireless. She was just like Bette Davis used to be, always eager to try different things. Both could do a dozen takes. Each time it would be as fresh as the first".

There was a much loved gossip tale at the time, telling how every time Barbra came with suggestions, Wyler would just turn his hearing aid off and advise her to "tone it down". Wyler patiently denies this, stressing that like Bette Davis, Barbra was interested in every phase of the film, not just her own part.

"She's a marvelous girl and a great performer..."


"Barbra always wanted to be convinced that what we were doing was the best possible way", continued Wyler. "I could work her till she dropped, and she would never complain. If I should say something negative, it had to be that every morning on the set, she would want to reshoot one of yesterday's scenes. She'd say: "The scene we did yesterday. I could do it much better today! Couldn't we do it over?"

Principle photography on "Funny Girl" was completed Dec 1, 1967. At the cast party Barbra gave her director an antique 18th Century gold watch inscribed: "To Make Up For Lost Time". Wyler's gifts to his star was a director's megaphone and a telescopic baton for conducting.

"I'm terribly fond of her', Wyler told me before leaving for his lecture. "She's a marvellous girl and a great performer. "Funny Girl" was a very good experience for me."
--



AMY IRVING

"With 'Yentl' I felt I succeeded for the first time as an actress"


While in London some years ago, Amy spoke to Roald Rynning about working with Barbra on 'Yentl', the musical drama which earned her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.

"It was one of the more interesting roles. When I read it, I didn't think it was going to be, and I turned it down. That's how stupid I can be! I think Barbra being the director really helped. She has an amazing eye for detail. She had her hand in everything, to the point that I realised, when she picked out the colour of my lipstick, that it usually matched whatever fruit was on the set, or the colour of the wallpaper. She was just so meticulous about it all."
Amy is direct and matter-of-factly in her answers. "I admire Barbra greatly. I've always been a fan of hers but I got to know her as a fantastic human being, with a great talent, lots of warmth and intelligence. But I wouldn't want to change places with her. Myself, I never wanted to be a star. All I wanted to do was to work as an actress. I see myself as a stage actress. I honestly believe that stardom is very limiting and highly overrated".


“The crew loved her. They would do anything for her.”


Is it true she hand picked your costumes for the film? I asked. "She practically hand picked every piece of clothing I put on and she'd actually put me in a different light than the cameramen and say ‘look at her hair'. In Yentl she was like the male lead, and she gave me the feminine lead. I was like a doll to her, and she made certain I looked my best absolutely all the time"
"Barbra had someone to help her put her wig on but she did her own make-up and would often adjust my make-up as well. And in spite of all the things that people associate with working with Barbra and it not necessarily being a joyful experience, the crew loved her. They would do anything for her. I think as long as she's directing, then she's not taking someone else's job. The problem is that when she knows better than the director, it's frustrating for her to keep her mouth shut, so she doesn't and it can bend people's noses the wrong way. When she's directing and producing her own films, she's a complete joy to work with."

I asked what preparation she did before shooting "For most of my roles I've had a lot of homework to do. Before we started shooting Yentl, Barbra sent me a lot of books on how to he a good Jewish girl. For the scene in which she sings 'Look at how he looks at her', she wanted me crocheting a doily. Naturally, I had no idea how to crochet a doily. So I took lessons and backstage during Amadeus, the play I was doing at the time, I created this beautiful doily while I wasn't on stage. I was so pleased with this in-credible doily- and when I finished it, I presented it to her. She was very touched by that. But then, when we went to shoot the scene, she decided for some reason that I should be doing embroidery. And I didn't know how to do embroidery at all!"

"I really do feel able to take a woman director aside and open myself up. I might be a little more guarded with a man."

What about rehearsals before the filming started? "We rehearsed for a week before shooting, but Barbra and I had worked before. She took me to her dressing room and we messed around. It's funny, during the romantic stuff, like when we had to kiss, she was more nervous than I was. We didn't kiss during rehearsals. We'd go back to her dressing room to rehearse but she'd never kiss, and when we finally did, that's when she said it wasn't so bad - it was like kissing an arm. Because it wasn't real passionate or anything. But she cut it off a lot quicker than I would have."

Would she agree there a special relationship between an actress and a woman director? "I do think the female-female relationship is awfully strong. I really do feel able to take a woman director aside and open myself up. I might be a little more guarded with a man. Both 'Yentl' and 'Crossing Delancey' were directed by women so I guess you can say women directors have brought me my screen glory".

GREG GORMAN


His work is seen on everything from the covers of the major publications like Life, Rolling Stone, Italian Vogue and Ppidy Warhol's Interview to the posters of the season's new blockbusters (Tootsie, The Big Chill, St. Elmo's Fire, Scarface, The Karate Kid, Down and Out In Beverly Hills..). He has created the look of best selling albums like David Bowie's "Let's Dance" and Barbra Streisand's "Love Songs" and "Emotion" as well as top American adverts. In the Hollywood Hills off Sunset Boulevard Greg Gorman's public and private worlds melt into one. He lives in a grey and pink house stylishly decorated in black, white and grey with dashes of green and colourful, modern sculptures and art-works on display.


"I like meeting new clients before I take their picture. Then we can exchange ideas and I can gain their trust which is hard if their personality's not open. Unfortunately there are no tricks to make people relaxed. I use music, I've got 5000 cassettes, and just spend as long as it takes. The longest to shoot is Bette Midler who I work with regularly. She likes to go on and on for twelve hours in one go."
Gorman attributes much of his success to his support team of talented hair, makeup and styling people. "I've worked with the same circle of people for several years. Their input is significant to the final vision in the photograph. I never let the stars use their own makeup people or hair dressers. He prefers photographing people he likes, his favourites being David Bowie. Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand. Or friends like Mickey Rourke, Rob Lowe and Bette Midler.


"You hear all these rumours about stars being difficult. I usually find that they are 180 degrees different to what I expect. The tough ones are sweethearts and the sweet ones turn out to be assholes. I don't have much trouble, though. The primadonnas feel inferior when they arrive. I've got a better house than most of them!"


"I hear you want to take some pictures of me"

Gorman's big break into the film world came with a Gene Hackman starring movie called 'All Night Long'. "My formal training in film-making proved beneficial in getting work as a photographer on film locations shooting stills for publicity and advertising campaigns. 'All Night Long" was a small budget social comedy directed by Belgian-born Jean-Claude Tramont doing his first American feature. Three weeks into shooting, the supporting actress, Lisa Eichorn was replaced by Hollywood's No. female box office star, Barbra Streisand.

"I was hired only to take stills from the film, but I asked to do a special shoot with her. I remember her office called me, asking what other big female stars I had shot. I had to answer I had done none. Nevertheless, one day on the set Barbra came over. "I hear you want to take some pictures of me", she said. "What did you have in mind? What colours do you want to use?" I answered her straight back. Asked her what colours she liked and the interrogation was over. From then on she was terrific."

"What's great about working with her is that she's such a pro and very inquisitive."

"For a photographer it's easy to work with her. She knows her face very well, the angles, the lot. As a person Barbra is very reserved" says Gorman of the star who made him big. "I think a lot of people mistake her for being unfriendly when it's really a question of shyness. What's great about working with her is that she's such a pro and very inquisitive. She loves to see my Polaroids and analyse the results. I think a great deal of her success has come from asking questions and being a terrific observer."

**The issues these interviews originally appeared in have since sold out. However it's likely they could feature, in their entirety, at some point in future production of All About Barbra. *Special thanks to Roald.


ALAN AND MARILYN BERGMAN
By Matt Howe


Alan and Marilyn Bergman were in Washington, D.C. to appear at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on May 15, 2007.  
"An Evening with Alan and Marilyn Bergman" unfolded like Bravo TV's "Inside the Actors Studio". Alan and Marilyn sat across from host Michael Kerker and answered questions about their long and distinguished career writing lyrics to film songs. The audience at The Kennedy Center was shown film clips from In the Heat of the Nightand The Thomas Crown Affair, which illustrated how the Bergman's songs were utilised for the opening and closing credits. Alan Bergman, accompanied by Andrew Ezrin on the piano, also sang several of the songs they'd written lyrics for (his album, Lyrically, Alan Bergman was released on May 8th). Lari White, a recording artist, wowed the audience when she performed a medley of songs from Yentl. (She had the Bergmans on their feet applauding, too.)


During their visit, Alan and Marilyn took time to talk with Matt Howe, one of All About Barbra’s contributors. Here is an excerpt of his excellent interview –published in full in AAB issue number 67. To see more of Matt’s work check his web page Barbra-archives.com. 


A tribute to Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Friday, May 29th. Host Quincy Jones (left) Here, Barbra announced she intends to record a tribute album her her friends, The Bergmans.


Matt Howe: When did you first meet Barbra Streisand?


Marilyn Bergman: 1962. We were writing a show in New York [Something More with Sammy Fain] and Jule Styne took us down to the Bon Soir to hear "a girl". He said, "You have to hear this girl." And we had been in casting sessions all day listening to girls. The last thing we wanted to do at the end of the day was go to hear another girl singer, but he said, "No, no, no, you must come." So reluctantly we went.  Little did we know... 




She walked out and sang one note and I remember starting to cry and I never stopped crying the whole show.


Alan Bergman: I can remember exactly what she was wearing.


MH: What was she wearing?


MB: She was wearing a full-sleeved white blouse and a vest and a skirt made out of a menswear herringbone fabric. The hair was up. I think it's the picture that's on one of the first albums. I remember Peter Daniels was playing piano. And we went backstage afterwards to meet her...
AB: ...in a dressing room that was like a telephone booth.
MB: She didn't have a dressing room, but I think she shared with Phyllis Diller. [Barbra] came out. I remember saying to her, "Do you know how wonderful you are?" She didn't answer me, but I looked at her and I knew, yes, she knew. She did know. She knew everything then, she knows everything now.


MH: Barbra didn't record one of your songs until the What About Today? album in 1969 ("Ask Yourself Why").*


MB: I think that's just the way it worked out. We've established from the beginning that we would never play her songs - and we don't.
AB: She has to ask first.
MB: She either hears them, finds them, or asks us to write something. But we've never played her songs.


MH: Can I ask you about Life Cycles of a Woman! In 1973, Barbra recorded "Between Yesterday and Tomorrow", "Can You Tell the Moment", and "Mother and Child". The music was by Michel Legrand. The album has been discussed a lot by Barbra's fans, how it was abandoned or not finished. Can you talk about it?


MB: I don't know, we just never finished it. I think we all just got busy...
AB: ... on other things.
MB: We never finished it.
AB: One of these days we will.
MB: Was "Wait" part of that album?
AB: Yes. Absolutely. We worked on the ending [of "Wait" with Michel Legrand]. We changed the ending from the original years ago.


MH: During that same session it's reported Barbra also sang "The Smile I've Never Smiled" and "Once You've Been in Love". I've heard a bootleg of "Once You've Been in Love" and it's just beautiful.


AB: Well the chemistry is just wonderful between the words and music and the voice. It's really something special.
MB: We're talking about over fifty songs... amazing. It's amazing that Sony has never collected them all together.


MH: That would be great if Sony did a Streisand/Bergman songbook album and maybe even put some of the songs that haven't been released on it! So, back to Life Cycles of a Woman - is that the title?


MB: No, I don't think we ever gave it a name.
AB: I don't think we did.
MB: It's kind of an orphan.


MH: I think fans and biographers started calling it that, and it stuck.


AB: The intention of it was to go from birth to death of a woman. That was the intention of the writing. We just never finished it. One of these days 


MH: I'm curious about Yentl. At any point did you write songs for the other characters or try to develop more than just the inner-monologue songs?


MB: No. Because it's from the moment that Yentl disguises herself that, essentially, there's nobody to talk to ... this amazing journey that she goes on. That inner voice, that inner monologue that could never be expressed to anybody was ideally musical. So that was the original concept and the original impetus for doing it. The question has come up from other people because when Mandy [Patinkin] was cast, people knew that he sang. But no, it never was the intention. 


MH: There was a song on Barbra's Yentl demo called "Several Sins A Day" 


AB: (Laughs) Everybody knows about that.
MH: It's a great song!
AB: You know, songs have to work in the context of the movie.


MH: Another song from Barbra's original demo, "The Moon and I", was on Just For the Record. AB: There again, it's a wonderful song but it didn't fit. MB: I don't know that it didn't fit. There must have been some sort of redundancy.


                         France during the European Promotional tour for Yentl.


AB: When you work on a project like that you overwrite. 
MB: And you know that things are going to be trimmed, and ditched, and added. That's part of the process.


MH: I became a Streisand fan after I saw Yentl. 


MB:   Well,   it's   really   the   most   extraordinary accomplishment. I'll never get over it. A first time director did a period musical that she was totally involved in every aspect of. I don't think it ever really got its due. 


MH: I agree. Yentl was an incredible project. 


AB: Absolutely. When we would finish a song we would call her and say, "Come over and sing it for us." Now, you never get a chance to ask your director to come over and sing for you.


MH: (Laughs) Very few directors sing like Barbra. 


MB: No director sings like Barbra ...


MH: Were you involved in the Yentl DVD at all.


MB and AB:No


MH: I'd like to ask you about "Places That Belong to You" from Prince of Tides, which I think doesn't get the attention it deserves - it's a beautiful song.


AB: I love that song.
MB: It's a beautiful melody that James Newton Howard wrote.


MH: I reviewed the lyrics and the song is from Barbra's character's perspective, right?


AB: You have a combination of the character and the story. Also, the melody is indigenous to that story.
MB: Actually, it's [Dr. Lowenstein's] story. In the movie, it's her story, in a way. It's their relationship, I guess. The book is told from the perspective of [the character] Tom Wingo. At the end of the movie, as I remember, he's driving over a bridge and he says her name ("Lowenstein, Lowenstein...").
AB: It's ambiguous at the end, really.


*Technically, the first Bergman song Barbra recorded was "That Face" for which Alan wrote the lyric. She sang a few bars of "That Face" for the circus medley in Color Me Barbra, 1966.



*With thanks to Michael Roman/SimplyStreisand.com


RICHARD LAWSON


Conducted by Allison Waldman








Popular actor, Richard Lawson, played boxer Hector Mantilla in "The Main Event" opposite Barbra and Ryan O'Neil.  When I asked him about that experience, he remembered working with Barbra fondly. "It was wonderful working with Barbra. She's an extraordinary talent and she's very, very kind. She was very nice to me. It was just a joy."




One of the movies’ funnier scenes came about through total improv. Appearing on a local sports talk show, Eddie and Hector face each other and Hillary is baited into making the boxing match a "winner take all" affair. Listening to Hector and The Kid talk, Hillary is baffled by Hector's accent. "What's a hollway?" she asks when Hector claims The Kid started a fight once in a hallway. According to Richard Lawson, that scene was totally improvised by Barbra, Ryan and him. "The lines were basically there, but the imitation Barbra did of my accent was improvisational. The scene took on a life of its own. It wasn't rehearsed like that. Some wonderful things come out of improvisation and you just go with it. It was written as a straight interview. The whole aspect of her sleeping and him waking her up, her calling him Brett then Burt (when his name was really Brent) ... all of that was total improvisa-tion."
Surprisingly, the final fight scene between Hector and The Kid was also a bit of improvisa-tion. Only the ending of the boxing match, where Hillary throws in the towel because The Kid is winning, was staged. The rest, according to Richard, was "almost like a grudge match" between him and Ryan O'Neal. When Richard first started on the picture, he went to see Ryan on the set where he was working out in the ring with sparring partners. Naturally since Ryan was the star of the picture, the other guys couldn't really fight back. "Ryan was really peppering them up, they couldn't hit Ryan as hard as he was hitting them. 

Then he looked over at me and said, 'Hey, come on man, let's go a few rounds." Richard, who had never boxed professionally (unlike Ryan O'Neal), hadn't even started training yet for the film and wasn't ready. O'Neal refused to take no for an answer, ragging on Lawson to get into the ring. So Richard put the gloves on and tried to duke it out with O'Neal. The trained Ryan soon was on the attack and he hit Lawson in the face, bloodying his nose. Angry, Richard climbed out of the ring, determined to get O'Neal back when the opportunity arose. Lawson trained for a month — "As hard as I could, so good that some managers offered to manage me if I wanted to go pro," — and when the finale came up — Hector and The Kid's big boxing match — he was ready. What exists now on film is Lawson and O'Neal really going after each other. "The first thing they did was set up five or six cameras for the master shots. Then me and Ryan started and we really got into it. We were really fighting. Not enough to hurt, but enough to sting each other. They (the pro-ducers and the director) loved it so much, this free-form boxing, they thought it was so real, they just filmed it. They got in close and let us do our thing. Only one section was choreo-graphed." remembers Richard Lawson. But all's well that ends well. "When the film was done, Ryan came up to me and we became buddies, good friends. He said, 'It was great working with you.'"
**You may remember Lawson garnered a lot of publicity with he survived the plane crash of U.S. Air flight 405 on March 22, from New York's La Guardia Airport to Cleveland, Ohio. The crash claimed 27 people’s live and a for-tunate 24 escape with minor injuries. Richard Lawson fought his way out of the wreckage and saved himself from drowning in the freez-ing cold water of Flushing Bay. 
Many of the casualties from flight 405 were located in the back of the plane, where he was supposed to be sitting. Lawson was booked into the coach section — seat 6A — but when he arrived at the ticket counter, the clerk recognized Richard from the American soap opera All My Children where he played Lucas Barnes and asked for an autograph Richard obliged, and the clerk offered to bump Richard into first class. Ironically it was probably that fact that saved his life.


RADIO INTERVIEWS WITH BARBRA (Audio)
Telephone Interview, taped before the opening night of Funny Girl on Broadway March 26th, 1964





David Jacobs, BBC Radio London, March, 1966



David Jacobs -- Part 2



David Jacobs -- Part 3




Barbra talks to BBC Radio presenter/Journalist Gloria Hunniford (2.3.92) 


An excellent, frank interview, Barbra talks about her, then, new movie Prince of Tides, Jason, her memories of Funny Girl and more. This is Part 1 - Enjoy!




Gloria Hunniford -- Part 2



Gloria Hunniford -- Part 3

Gloria Hunniford -- Part 4

Gloria Hunniford -- Part 4



Funny Girl Premiere Interview UK, 



Streisand Special '78 - Part 1



Streisand Special '78 Part 2



Streisand Special ending & Evergreen (Italian)