Barbra Streisand’s life – birth name, tragic childhood loss and Friends romance

Hollywood icons come no greater than singing sensation and A Star Is Born actress Barbra Streisand.

Since bursting onto our stereos in the 1960s, she has become one of the world's biggest selling artists of all time – as well as one of the most decorated composers, actresses and singers.

Hailed as a recording legend, she has also led a very interesting life away from our screens and stereos – including her philanthropy and political work, as well as a number of high profile romances and revealing a secret about her 'real' name.

To celebrate Barbra's 80th birthday, Daily Star looks back on the life of one of the greatest entertainers of all time.

Tragic childhood loss

Global music megastar and Hollywood actress Barbra Streisand was born on April 4, 1942 in Brooklyn, New York to parents Diane and Emanuel Streisand.

However at the age of just 15 months old, Barbra's father Emanuel Streisand died after suffering a seizure at the age of 34.

Speaking at a Q&A session at ArcLight Hollywood, the actress and singer revealed that she wrote the 1983 film Yentl, as a way to explore the father and daughter relationship she never had.

"It just meant a lot to me to be able to make a story where I could create a father, a father I never had because he died when I was 15 months old.

"I was so intrigued by that relationship and also the great tradition in Judaism is knowledge, learning and my father was a teacher."

She also has an older brother, Sheldon, and a half-sister, the singer Roslyn Kind, from her mother's remarriage to Louis Kind in 1949.

'Real' name

Barbra Streisand is the star's real name – but not the way that you know it.

Her real name is in fact spelt Barbara Joan Streisand, but the actress revealed that she despised the name that has now made her a global sensation.

Talking to Smooth Radio, Barbra said that she did not like the way her name was spelt, saying: "I hated the name, but I refused to change it."

She added during the interview: "Well, I was 18 and I wanted to be unique, but I didn't want to change my name because that was too false.

"You know, people were saying you could be Joanie Sands, or something like that.

"And I said, 'No, let's see, if I take out the 'a,' it's still 'Barbara,' but it's unique."

Hollywood stardom

After beginning her career as a nightclub singer in the early sixties, Barbra soon became one of the world's biggest stars after the release of her self-titled debut album in 1963.

From there it was onwards and upwards for the singing sensation, releasing chart topping hits including The Way We Were, Evergreen, You Don't Bring Me Flowers and Woman In Love, as well as collaborating with some of the world's biggest artists including Barry Gibb.

She has fast become one of the biggest selling artists of all time, with record sales topping over 150million, as well as winning 10 Grammy Awards and being given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement and Grammy Legend accolades.

Along with starring in the original 1976 film A Star Is Born, she also was the first woman to be given the Academy Award for best original composition, for writing the film's love theme.

Barbara also starred in the film alongside Kris Kristofferson, and went on to further her film career, winning Academy Awards and Golden Globes for her acting and directing work, which included the 1983 Yentl, as well as directing films including The Mirror Has Two Faces.

She had also previously starred in musicals including 1968's Funny Girl.

In more recent years, she has also appeared in comedy films including Little Fockers and a 2016 episode of Modern Family.

High profile romances

As well as a stunning Hollywood career, Barbra has also had a number of high profile romances along the way, including her first marriage to MASH actor Elliot Gould from 1963-1971.

The couple also welcomed their son Jason Gould in 1966, who has also followed in his parent's footsteps as an actor, director and singer.

He starred in films including The Prince of Tides and Say Anything, as well as releasing his first album Dangerous Man in 2017.

Speaking about his career and comparisons to his famous mother, he told Billboard: "The pressure of being compared or judged is something I recognize I have no control over.

"And ultimately, I have to be authentic, so no matter who my mother is, it doesn’t really matter in the end. We are all products of our parents though."

After she and Elliot Gould divorced, Barbra also dated a number of famous acting faces including Richard Gere and Clint Eastwood, as well as the tennis player Andre Agassi in the early nineties.

She also had a romance with Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau between 1969-1970.

However, Barbra found lasting romance again with her husband James Brolin, who she married in 1998.

James is also an actor and recently gushed about his famous wife in an interview with People, saying: "We, for a long time, were put out by COVID. And a lot of people, their marriages haven't gone well during these 15 months.

"We've literally fallen in love over this period of time, just being stuck together every day and making it work."

"Neither one of us have ever gone out the door [after] an argument and we are good at talking things out. And 23 years is better than ever, I must say."

Philanthropy and politics

Barbra Streisand is a keen philanthropist and set up the Barbra Streisand Foundation, which supports causes such as women's rights, LGBTQ+ rights and civil rights, as well as having a focus on climate change and the environment.

She also helped to set up the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Centre in Los Angeles, California and also founded the Women's Heart Alliance, which supports research into heart disease.

She has also spoken openly about her political activism, including supporting every democratic candidate since John F. Kennedy, where in 1963 she sang for the White House Correspondents dinner.

Although Barbra was told that there might be a backlash to her becoming involved in politics, she continued to be politically active throughout her career and in 1986, held a Congressional fundraiser at her Malibu home.

It was here she befriended speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi, who told New York Times: "It took real courage back then to get involved because the entertainment industry believed there’d be a backlash.

"She tended to every detail," adding: "It’s not just because she’s a celebrity.

"She knows the issues. She’s studied. She can explain why she supports what she does. That’s what’s persuasive."

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