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