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The Way We Were 25 Years Later

I have been a big Barbra Streisand fan since I was a young girl. I remember listening to her records on my little pink personal turntable that I shared with my sister Debbie. This was at 2330 Traymore Road in University Heights, Ohio.

I remember memorizing the lyrics and practicing in front of my mirror using a hairbrush as a microphone to sing along with Barbra. Probably one of my sister Debbie’s worst remembrances of those days was me getting up to sing “Memories” at her wedding when I had had a few too many.

My mom said I sounded like a sick cow.

All this came back to me as I was watching Barbra being interviewed by Oprah recently. It was the first time she and Robert Redford had been interviewed together since they starred in “The Way We Were” 25 years ago. The show started out with Oprah interviewing Barbra alone. What I found very interesting were her remembrances of all her leading men. In fact Redford said he deliberately didn’t try to put Streisand at ease for a dance scene where she was supposed to look timid and afraid. Her unease in front of the camera was more “organic” as he put it.

In fact, Redford said he turned down the part when it was first offered him for the movie with Streisand because he felt the character was too one dimensional. Until the character became more flawed, he didn’t think he would be more than a “Ken doll.”

I found myself totally mesmerized with them both during the interview. I had to agree with Oprah, when she talked about Streisand being a true star she could emulate because Barbra tried every venue of entertainment from singing to directing to acting to Broadway and giving concerts. She seems to have done it all.

I am truly in awe of her accomplishments and have been for many years. I had hoped to be a singer, and in fact studied under the great opera singer and teacher Eileen Farrell. Farrell focused more on jazz and blues in her later years and encouraged me in that direction although I never got very far. The acting bug took over instead.

I had a love of the stage, but in truth I always wanted to be a performer with the depth and multiple skill set that Streisand showed. I did act and sing in musicals in high school and community theater back in Cleveland. But while those early successes showed promise, the acting business and entertainment business in general is such a tough industry and I never seemed to make it to the venues I really wanted. When I see a success like Streisand, I realize from my own experiences that it is a one-in-a-million occurrence when someone rises to the top in multiple fields.

I still get a thrill listening to Barbra’s singing and am also intrigued with her acting and directing successes in movies like “Yentl” and “The Mirror Has Two Faces.” These are very different films and show her acting range.

So, after all these years, I can say I’m still a fan. And I apologize for my rendition of “Memories.” The memories I have all these years later are of a lovely voice and actress in Barbra.

About Kathryn Spira

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland, OH who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County, New York. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site

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