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Hello, Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand Hardcover – October 9, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 356 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Before she was Barbra, she was Barbara, a homely Brooklyn kid who had an unshakable belief that she would be a star. What she didn’t think was that fame would come through her singing voice. Streisand wanted to be an actress; she saw Shakespeare in her future, not Fanny Brice. Mann takes readers from the day Streisand took the train from Brooklyn to Manhattan and ends with her as the toast of Broadway. He seems to have gotten closer than most to some friends and coworkers of the early Streisand—first love Barry Dennen, first husband Elliott Gould, manager Marty Erlichman—and he’s lucky that she left a paper trail of interviews. Mann seems to have combed through every one, looked at the old videos, and has even gone as far as to check Noël Coward’s schedule for 1960 to prove he could not have seen Streisand sing at Bon Soir. Though some of this is well-trod ground, Streisand fans will come away feeling they’ve had a ringside seat at her early career, and they will leave the show applauding. --Ilene Cooper


"Trying to figure out the Barbra Streisand mystique is no easy task, but Mann expertly captures the launch of her remarkable career in the early 1960s when a unique 'star was born.'  Mann's meticulous research and insightful analysis go deeper than any previous biography..."
USA Today
"Mann, who has written bios of Katherine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor, has found another great subject here, and he offers up many new tidbits about Streisand's early life: details of her first affair, with a bisexual actor; her rejecting moth's reaction to seeing her onstage for the first time; and some ruminations about those 3-inch nails." — People Magazine
"[An] excellent new work...One can only put down HELLO, GORGEOUS with renewed appreciation for Barbra’s single-mindedness, and with some glimpse of her inner struggle."
—Liz Smith, syndicated columnist
"Notable for its breadth of detail and fair-mindedness . . . Mann vividly evokes the atmosphere of Streisand's New York." —  New York Times Book Review
"Mann depicts not just her ferocious ambition and equally fierce insecurities, but also the people and strategies that enabled her rise. With many of those acolytes and assistants as sources, Mann provides an intimate, gossipy and sympathetic accounts of early Streisand." — The Forward
"In his masterful book, Mann captures one of the most fully realized pictures of the multi-hyphenate superstar to date. . . . Many books have been written about Streisand but few, if any, put readers as close to the subject as Mann does." — The Miami Herald
"[A] surprisingly suspenseful and masterfully paced biography."
Kirkus (starred)
"Streisand fans will come away feeling they’ve had a ringside seat at her early career, and they will leave the show applauding."
"A compelling, detailed look at the rise of the multitalented Streisand from 17-year-old unknown to chart-topping singer and Broadway star. Highly recommended for fans of Streisand, biographies, and theater."
Library Journal
"Combining extensive interviews (some anonymous) and exhaustive archival research, Mann balances intimate personal details with audience reactions and critical acclaim to etch an indelible portrait of the artist as a young woman."
Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (October 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547368925
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547368924
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (356 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #565,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joe Albanese VINE VOICE on August 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It seems quite appropriate that Mr. Mann should publish this book now. This year marks Ms. Streisand's 50th anniversary in show business, she turned 70, and she is going on tour again and it is sold out!

In a day and age where stars are manufactured by a 10 minute appearance on television programs where they are glossed up and amplified to the hilt, Barbra Streisand remains that rare creature - a woman who has talent and has survived.

Tastes change as well as times do. From the beginning, when Barbra was singing classic Harold Arlen numbers and appearing with the old guard stalwarts of show business, she easily parlayed her talents to rock, disco and then back to classic Broadway.

In loving and sensitively portrayed wording, William J. Mann details Barbra Streisand's life in HELLO, GORGEOUS. It is not a cofee table book, nor is it something that can be ignored as a glossy collection of the woman's career complete with photographs. Mr. Mann clearly researched his subject. Although I suspect he is quite the fan of her multi-talents, he doesn't let his "hero worship" get in the way of his clean cut prose as he details her meteoric rise to the top. You read HELLO, GORGEOUS and are entertained by the facts. Although the author does not sugar coat his subject, he neither condemns her for being driven and over-bearing at times. You find yourself turning the pages and filled with the sense that you actually know Barbra Streisand personally.

A definite must read for anyone who wants to know who and what a star really is.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I took this book with me on vacation. As it stands, this book overtook me on my vacation. It is a page turner in a true sense. It looks at the life and career of Streisand from its earliest professional beginning when she was starting out playing small clubs and living in a crappy apartment. In the course of the four short years that are covered in this book from 1960 to 1964, the reader is introduced to Streisand who didn't start out famous though her meteoric rise to uber stardom and fame certainly seems like it was always there.
Author William Mann supposedly didn't start out as a fan, but I get the feeling that through the course of his thorough research he has become one and has a lot of respect for Barbra while still being conscious to maintain honesty and objectivity when writing about his subject.
Streisand is put under the microscope and is often portrayed as self-centered and narcisistic. Definitely this is not always the most flattering manner in which to be portrayed, but personally I'd find it hard, if not impossible, to see her in any other light. I wouldn't expect Bette Davis to be demure and self-effacing nor would I expect the other B(as in Barbra) to be anything but confident and demanding and self-involved.
This book was extremely interesting and revealing and in no small part defines Streisand as someone, who despite being pretty much ignored by her mother, knew where she was headed and how to get there. It takes a look at her relationship with Elliot Gould as well as her collaboration with Ray Stark which elevated her to another level in terms of fame and her own versatility as the consummate performer.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Barbra doesn't have anything to worry about, now. After all, she's BARBRA. She starred in NUTS, and YENTL and sang vibrant songs on vinyl albums my parents played over and over again on the stereo turntable. As one who enjoys interviewing, what I recall (is the hearsay) that Barbra doesn't do interviews. So when I saw the book, HELLO GORGEOUS, Becoming Barbra Streisand, by William J. Mann, I had to have it. Never mind that I have about 15 books that I want to read in varying degrees of desperate; this one had me completely intrigued. I dropped everything to read it.

I could tell you that I met her on a public street in Manhattan, that I gushed over her and she rolled her eyes at me and smiled that mysterious, enigmatic smile in my direction. Neither is true of course. But I had wondered for years why she didn't give interviews. What really is the real back story behind the actress, and velvet voice and icon we now have known for decades as Barbra Streisand?

MANN captures a time when BARBRA was Barbara. Not as evolved, back when she was singing her heart out with Sleepin' Bee at the Bon Soir, in her early 20's.Back when she desperately wanted more than anything to be an actress.

There were very few moments, according to William Mann, author of this un-authorized biography, when she didn't believe in herself. HELLO GORGEOUS is peppered (at times quite a bit) with maybe's and probably's, but still paints a rather cohesive, and colorful portrait of the girl becoming a woman and then transforming into the icon.
I have always been curious about the "Elliot years", which are covered extensively. I found the story poignantly painful, and beautiful, inspiring and encouraging.
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