Thursday, October 2, 2014


BWW interviews: Author JAMES SPADA's New Streisand In The Camera Eye Is Fetching

BWW interviews: Author JAMES SPADA's New Streisand In The Camera Eye Is Fetching Renowned author/biographer James Spada, who has penned best-selling books on Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis and Peter Lawford, to name a few, has a new coffee table book which will hit the book stands mid October, entitled Streisand in the Camera Eye. I have seen an advanced copy, and it is simply beautiful..."Hello, gorgeous!" Barbra would say as Fanny Brice. Fans of Barbra will adore this one and even if you are merely fond of her work, like me, you will be blown away by the beauty of these rarely seen photographs accompanied by short descriptions of the time and place by Spada. It's a real page turner, and each photograph is more eye-catching, more vivid than the last.
Why another book about Barbra at this particular point in time?
2014 is the fiftieth anniversary of Barbra's opening on Broadway in Funny Girl. I wanted this book to be a celebration of her half century of superstardom.
What makes this book different from the other three you have written about her?
This is by far the most lavish, gorgeously produced book I've ever done on anyone. Almost all of the photos are full page and in color. I think my publisher, Abrams Books, did a great job in producing a really beautiful book. I knew they would, which is why I wanted them to publish it.
BWW interviews: Author JAMES SPADA's New Streisand In The Camera Eye Is Fetching
The photos you chose are out of this world beautiful. What specifications did you set up for selecting each?
There were three: How rare the photo was, how good Barbra looked in the photo, and how well the photo illustrated some aspect of Barbra's career, life, or beauty.
I know the process must have been arduous. Describe just how difficult it was to find photos and to get them? It must have cost a great deal of money and time. Was there one specific photographer or collector who contributed more than any other?
It was difficult to find some photographers, but once I did they were very cooperative. I had a $25,000 photo budget, so I had to haggle over prices sometimes to stay within the budget. A collector in Spain, Jorge Rodriguez Garcia, contributed a great number of the photos. There are three photographers,, all now deceased, who contributed four to five photos each: David Drew Zingg, who spent a day with Barbra in 1963 for a "Look" magazine profile on Barbra; Craig D. Simpson, who took the very first studio portraits of Barbra in 1960, before she had done anything but sing in small clubs; ad Cecil Beaton, who took stunning portraits of Barbra as Melinda Tentrees in the 1970 film of the musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, including the cover shot.
You chose a mixture of career and personal pictures. I'm sure she's fussy about the personal side of her life. must have used caution. Just how cautious were you in deciding what to use and what not?
I didn't mean this book to be an "illustrated biography," but rather a collection of photos that reveal Barbra's relationship with the camera and her photographers, both still and motion picture. That said, I did feel I needed to illustrate her with the three most important men in her life--first husband Elliott Gould, long-time lover Jon Peters, and second husband James Brolin. There are three photos of her with her son Jason--a lovely portrait of them when he was an infant, a photo in a park when he was two, and a photo of them at the Academy Awards in 1993 for her film The Prince of Tides, in which Jason acted with his mother. I didn't include paparazzi photos of her with any of her many boyfriends; the only one pictured at all is Ryan O'Neal, and that's because they made two movies together.
BWW interviews: Author JAMES SPADA's New Streisand In The Camera Eye Is Fetching
You went chronologically. Which decade do you feel is her most prolific? There was certainly an abundance of film work in the late 60s, early 70s, but do you feel her best work was there or later?
I'd have to say the 60s, because she did so much, and such varied, work. She sang in nightclubs and on TV shows like Ed Sullivan's; she released at least one album a year; she appeared in an off-Broadway play and in two Broadway productions, one of which, Funny Girl, made her a superstar; she made four television specials; sang for 150,000 people in Central Park; and appeared in three lavishly produced Hollywood musicals, winning a Best Actress Oscar for her first film, the movie version of Funny Girl. In the 70s she began to broaden her range and contemporize her image. In the 80s and 90s she turned to directing as well as starring in her films.In the 2000s she began touring again. Just last week she became the only artist to have a #1 album in six consecutive decades. So there really hasn't been a fallow decade in Barbra's career.
Fashion-wise, what kind of clothes were special to Barbra, on and off screen? The pictures reflect a lot of change through the years. When did the hairstyle stop changing and why?
Early on, and even somewhat today, Barbra loved to wear clothes she found in thrift shops--1920s finery with finely-wrought beading, or feathers and lace and fur. She still has a caracul coat she found in a thrift store in 1960; she wore it at her audition for her first Broadway show, I Can Get it For You Wholesale (or rather, she dragged it along the floor behind her, for effect, as she crossed the stage to sing.) There are two photos in the book of her wearing it, taken in 1960 by Craig D. Simpson.
Later in the 60s, she became a fashion icon wearing clothes by Rudi Gernreich and other hip designers. Today, she favors her good friend Donna Karan, who dresses her for all her concerts.
BWW interviews: Author JAMES SPADA's New Streisand In The Camera Eye Is Fetching
She's had many hairstyles--pageboy and bangs in the sixties, long straight blond hair and curly red hair in the 70s, wavy dirty blond hair in the 80s. In The Prince of Tides in 1992, she first wore the shoulder-length straight blond hair she favors today. I think she just felt that the style most flattered her so why not keep it?
Anything that you left out of this book that might make it into another?
There were some photographers I wasn't able to reach or who declined to be a part of the project. But I really can't see doing another book on Barbra--unless I get to work with her on her autobiography, which would be a dream come true for me!
Anyone who has had limited knowledge of Barbra should find this new book a treasure. And I'm certain it will do very well. Any final comments as you await publication?
Even those who know Barbra well will be surprised by many of the photos in the book That was my goal, and I believe I reached it.
BWW interviews: Author JAMES SPADA's New Streisand In The Camera Eye Is Fetching
BWW interviews: Author JAMES SPADA's New Streisand In The Camera Eye Is Fetching
BWW interviews: Author JAMES SPADA's New Streisand In The Camera Eye Is Fetching

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