by James Spada
(Abrams Books, $40)
Reviewed by Larry Cox
James Spada has compiled his fourth major book about Barbra Streisand. The veteran Hollywood author and journalist’s latest effort features a collection of 170 photographs of Streisand chosen for their rarity, beauty and insight. Many are being published for the first time.
The photographs are stunning. There are images taken by such heavy-hitters as Philippe Halsman, Francesco Scavullo, Douglas Kirkland, Bob Willoughby and Cecil Beaton, documenting almost every aspect of Streisand’s life and career, from her fabled stage concerts to her moments on the set and Broadway stage.
The most intriguing photographs are the intimate images, such as one taken in May 1966. Streisand, who was two months pregnant, is shown with her then-husband, Elliott Gould, in a London hotel suite. She reveals a vulnerability in the image that is as touching as it is unusual.
The book is divided into seven main parts: Making Up Barbra (1960-1963); Broadway Baby, TV Star (1964-1967); Movie Star (1968-1970); Natural Girl (1970-1975), A Star Is Reborn (1976-1982), Visions (1983-1997) and National Treasure (1998-2013).
An introduction documents some of the intriguing moments in Miss Streisand’s early life and formative years. For example, when she was a youngster, she tried on different outfits and experimented with makeup, even using colors from her brother’s paint set. She mimicked cigarette commercials in front of mirrors and began to develop what would later become the Streisand style.
This superb collection is supplemented by seven essays by Spada, along with substantial anecdotal and quote-filled captions. This book is a fitting tribute to one of the world’s most popular and beloved stars.