'People who love people'? Streisand doesn't share wealth with mom, book claims

November 16, 1993|By Dave Saltonstall | Dave Saltonstall,New York Daily News

Former "Funny Girl" Barbra Streisand may have grown into a world-class rich girl, but she keeps her mother in a run-down Beverly Hills condo and sends her just $1,000 a month, a new biography claims.

"Barbra Streisand is worth -- what -- $170 million? And her mother does not live well," says a family friend in "Her Name is Barbra," a juicy new biography written by Randall Riese.

The hefty book was set to hit stores yesterday. It traces La Streisand's Cinderella life from a traumatic Brooklyn childhood, through her fabulous career. The 584 pages chronicle the tantrums, torments, lovers and desires of

the talented actor, director, singer, producer and sometime activist for AIDS and other causes.

Along the way, readers learn about the allegations that Ms. Streisand's son married another man, her raging battle in 1979 to suppress topless photos of herself, and the many loves of her life.

That star-studded list includes Elliott Gould, Warren Beatty, Ryan O'Neal, Don Johnson and one-time hairdresser Jon Peters, as well as Peter Weller ("RoboCop") and tennis star Andre Agassi -- 28 years her junior.

Mr. Agassi, says Mr. Riese, is "everything Barbra finds attractive in a man: cocky, yet sensitive; athletic, yet intelligent; secure, yet vulnerable." But Barbra's true loves are Mr. Gould, father of her son, Jason, and Mr. Peters, who helped her produce "The Prince of Tides."

"It was in [Peters'] bed," Mr. Riese writes, "that she had learned to become sexually aggressive."

But it's the revelation that Ms. Streisand's 84-year-old mother, Diana Kind, can't even afford to pay her cable TV bill that could prove most distressing to Ms. Streisand's fans.

"Diana lives her life like a lower-middle-class woman," confides an unnamed "family friend" in the book, published by Carol Publishing and released exclusively to the New York Daily News.

"[Once] the cable went out, so I called the company," the friend continues, "and they said, 'Well, she didn't pay her bill.' Finally I said to her, 'Diana, why don't you just send all of your bills to Barbra's accountants?'

"But Diana's feeling was, 'Well, I don't want to bother her. I don't want to be a burden,'" the friend recalls.

Another friend is quoted as saying that Ms. Streisand has sent her mother just $1,000 a month since the 1970s. He adds, "Who in the 1990s can live on $250 a week?"

But hard times were once a way of life for Ms. Streisand. After her father died in 1943, the family moved to an apartment on Pulaski Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

"We never had a couch," recalled Ms. Streisand. "Couches to me were, like, what rich people had."

But it was her stepfather, Louis Kind, who would prove most oppressive, Mr. Riese writes. "I know he hit her at least once or twice,'" recalled Ed Frankel, a childhood neighbor of Ms. Streisand's.

After desperately trying to prove herself as a young actress -- with little success -- Ms. Streisand's break came in June 1960. On a lark, she took the stage at a Greenwich Village bar called The Lion and sang "A Sleepin' Bee," co-written by Truman Capote.

The audience was astounded. "I just wept," said Terry Leong, a friend of Ms. Streisand's in the crowd.

She won first prize: $50 and a one-week engagement. Three years later, she starred as Fanny Brice in the Broadway hit "Funny Girl," beginning a career that continues to smash records.

During the filming of the 1970 movie "The Owl and the Pussycat," one scene called for Streisand to stroll topless across the set, Mr. Riese reports. She agreed, but then demanded all the nude negatives.

The director conceded, but Ms. Streisand failed to account for all of the prints. Some fell into the hands of High Society magazine, and Ms. Streisand sued.

In the end, a judge ordered the magazine to rip out the offending photos.

Even more disturbing to Ms. Streisand was a 1990 story headlined "Barbra Weeps Over Gay Son's Wedding." The article purported to detail the wedding of Ms. Streisand's son, Jason Gould, to model David Knight, but it proved "a fabrication," Mr. Riese writes.

"I don't know Jason," says Mr. Knight, speaking for the first time of the ordeal. "I've never even met him."

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