At 19, an unknown Barbra Streisand auditioned for the role of spinster secretary Miss Marmelstein in I Can Get It for You Wholesale. She sang three songs and then offered her phone number to the people watching the audition. “I remembered it and I called her,” admits Elliott Gould, who at 23 had the lead in the show.

From that phone call, Barbra and Elliott began a friendship that grew into love and marriage. Now, nearly 50 years after their divorce, Elliott, 82, looks back on their history together with affection. “We got married, had a son and had a great life,” he says.

Despite their 1971 split, the former couple stayed friends through the years as they co-parented their son, singer Jason Gould, 53. “Barbra asked me at one point, because she’s still writing her [autobiography], she said, ‘Why did we grow apart?’” Elliott says. “The answer to that is that we didn’t grow together.”

Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould

Barbra’s Broadway debut in Wholesale turned her into a star overnight. She received a Tony nomination and a New York Drama Critics award, appeared on The Tonight Show and within a year released her first solo recording, The Barbra Streisand Album. Within two weeks, she became the country’s top-selling female vocalist.

Her personal life moved just as quickly. In September 1963, while Barbra was opening for Liberace in Carson City, Nev., she and Elliott were secretly married by a justice of the peace. Their son, Jason, was born in 1966 but could not hold them together as her career eclipsed her husband’s. “We didn’t grow together because she became more important than us,” admits Elliott. “But I also said to her, ‘We did great. We made it very fast and nobody has what we have. There’s you and me and our kid.’”

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