'Smokey and the Bandit' Actor Wrote This No. 1 Hit With Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand’s hits have been written by numerous famous musicians — and sometimes by actors. For example, one of her No. 1 singles wouldn’t exist without the contributions of an actor who appeared in the Burt Reynolds comedy Smokey and the Bandit. Interestingly, the actor in question expected one of the songs from the same album to outperform the hit song he wrote for Streisand.

The Helen Reddy hit written by a ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ actor that inspired a Barbra Streisand song

Paul Williams might not be a household name but he has been in a number of notable films. For instance, he’s had roles in Battle for the Planet of the Apes, Phantom of the Paradise, and Oliver’s Stones The Doors. He also played Little Enos Burdette in Smokey and the Bandit. Though he did not appear in the 1970s version of A Star Is Born, he had a huge impact on it when he wrote one of its signature songs.

Williams told The Tennessean he wrote Helen Reddy’s song “You and Me Against the World.” Streisand wanted him to write a similar track for A Star Is Born. The ultimate product was “Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born).” Streisand’s actions during the creation of “Evergreen” surprised Williams.

How Paul Williams and the world reacted to ‘Evergreen (Love Theme from ‘A Star Is Born’)’

“The first thing she did, she said, ‘Can you use this?’’ Williams recalled. “She picked up a guitar and (played the melody). I said, ‘Oh my God, it’s beautiful’ She was like a little kid. It’s a side of her I’d never seen before.”

Williams’s lyricism and Streisand’s melody paid off during awards season. According to The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits, the track won both the Academy Award for Best Song and the Grammys for Song of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. 

In addition, “Evergreen” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It performed better on the chart than any of Streisand’s other singles, with the exception of “The Way We Were,” another ballad tied to one of her movies. Oddly enough, Williams expected one of the other songs from the soundtrack of A Star Is Born to outperform “Evergreen.”

The song Paul Willaims put more faith in than ‘Evergreen (Love Theme from ‘A Star Is Born’)’

“To be rigorously honest, the song that I thought was going to come out of the picture was a song called ‘With One More Look at You,’ which I wrote with Kenny [Ascher],” Williams told The Tennessean. “She sings it in one take at the end of the picture, which I think is one of her most brilliant performances.”

However, Williams noted how Streisand continues to include “Evergreen” on her albums, unlike “With One More Look at You.” She even recorded “Evergreen” as a duet with R&B superstar Babyface on her album Partners: Movie Partners Sing Broadway. Regardless of Williams’ expectations for it, “Evergreeen” remains an evergreen example of 1970s pop.

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