In her upcoming memoir, Barbra Streisand recalls turning down an indecent proposal by Marlon Brando at a party in 1966. The actor, whose then-wife was also a guest at the same event, didn’t take offense. In fact, he became a lifelong pal who called Barbra to critique her performance in 1968’s Funny Girl. “You were really good, but you run funny,” she says Marlon told her.
At 81, the legendary performer is ready to tell her story her own way in My Name Is Barbra, out November 7. “I never learned to type,” says the star, who wrote her book longhand over a period of 10 years. She’d been asked to tell all before — most famously by Doubleday editor Jackie Onassis in 1984 — but she felt she wasn’t ready. She still had much to accomplish and hadn’t found her happily ever after yet.
Today, Barbra not only has a stellar career to look back on with pride, she also has a contented private life with actor James Brolin, whom she wed in 1998. “They truly love each other,” says a friend. “They get along great, are best friends and are still attracted to each other.”
Home for the pair is a lush compound of five buildings overlooking the ocean in Malibu, California. Barbra is always in the process of redecorating a portion of the estate. “I like the idea of evolution and change,” says the star, who admits that she tries to improve upon her life and marriage, too. “The Dalai Lama says, ‘Give truth with compassion,’” says Barbra, who explains that periodic couples counseling has made the pair kinder and more forgiving, and helped strengthen their union. “I don’t think you can take each other for granted,” she says.
Barbra and Jim’s life together is enriched by their children and grandchildren. “She and Jason are close. They talk often,” says the friend about Barbra’s 56-year-old son. Jim’s eldest, actor Josh Brolin, has made the couple grandparents. The two oldest grandchildren from Josh’s first marriage are adults, but the youngest, Westlyn, 4, and Chapel, 2, are frequent visitors. “I’m enjoying my grandchildren and there’s nothing like family and home and pure love and joy and connection,” Barbra says. “That is the most important thing to me now.”
With so many blessings, it seemed the perfect time for Barbra to examine the long road she’s traveled from her fatherless childhood in Brooklyn to the bright lights of Hollywood. “This is her version of her life. It’s her truth from her heart,” Barbra’s sister, Roslyn Kind, told Closer at an event celebrating From Hollywood to the World, a collection of rediscovered recordings by MGM music legend José Iturbi. Previous books about Barbra’s early life fell short. “They depict my family in ways I do not appreciate,” said Roslyn. “They don’t know us, so they assume.”
Barbra’s memoir fills in the details and ends with her marriage in 1998 — but that doesn’t mean she’s done with her story. She’d love to play French stage diva Sarah Bernhardt in a film, and also Mama Rose in a remake of Gypsy. She’d also like to star in a sequel to The Way We Were, but only if she could convince Robert Redford to return. Despite the memoir, Barbra prefers to look to the future. “I find it hard to look back,” she admits. “I don’t mean hard as in negative. I mean, it feels egotistic to look at something about yourself.”