Streisand: In the Camera Eye

by Michael Cox

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday October 15, 2014

Streisand: In the Camera Eye

Barbra Streisand may be the only superstar to blend Old Hollywood glamour with New Hollywood verve. Best-selling author James Spada luminously brings these two elements together in "Streisand: In the Camera Eye," a collection of 170 of her most rare and compelling photographs, with a substantial amount of facts, anecdotes and quote-filled captions.

From the moment she walked onto the big screen for the first time in the career-defining film "Funny Girl," looked in the mirror and uttered those self-effacing yet prescient words, "Hello, Gorgeous," Streisand assured her role as an film icon, but this compellation goes even before that to her early days in New York, on Broadway and on TV.

We get to see crisp, detailed views of the magnificent make-up and costume design in her hugely popular TV specials, intricacies that a television camera couldn't capture.

Spada charts her difficult childhood and sets the stage for her rags to riches story in his absorbing introduction, "The Streisand Allure." A number of young men became enchanted with Barbra's magnetism when she was just starting out, helping her to design her look by jazzing up second hand clothing and giving her make-up tips. They even set her singing career in motion by encouraging her to enter a talent contest at a Greenwich Village gay bar.

More juicy tidbits are revealed as we move through her film career (like her relationship with hunky co-star Ryan O'Neal) moving all the way to her latest movie "The Guilt Trip" and her "Back to Brooklyn" concert.

[Young men] set her singing career in motion by encouraging her to enter a talent contest at a Greenwich Village gay bar.

Peppered along the way are comments from all kinds of admirers. "The girl not only has a magnificent talent, but she's beautiful too..." says none other than Audrey Hepburn.

Some of the utmost names in photography are represented here, including Philippe Halsman, Francesco Scavullo, Douglas Kirkland, Bob Willoughby and Cecil Beaton.

Though we instantly recognize "the look" of each of her movies and album covers, this volume mostly features pictures that have never been seen before. This is a chance to really marvel at the detail of costuming that flies by too quickly on the screen - the bead work and textures of her gowns, her nails and her jewelry - as well as share in some unassuming and candid moments away from the set.

Having already written three other volumes on Streisand, Spada is an expert historian who breaks down her career into seven periods in a luxurious, 9 x 11", 288 page hardcover.

"Streisand: In the Camera Eye"