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A 22-year-old’s first TV special: "My Name is Barbra"

April 28, 1965

Who else could command total creative control over a national hour-long television special at the age of 22?  Barbra Streisand, of course, and the artistic and audience triumph that resulted from the broadcast on April 28, 1965 has become the stuff of legend ever since.

In 1963 she released her first two albums, won her first two Grammys, and began appearing live in prominent nightclubs across the country.  By the following year, she earned further nominations from the Grammys and Tonys after her success with Broadway critics and audiences in her role as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl.

Streisand signed a $5 million, 10-year contract with CBS in June 1964.  With creative control, she broke all the then-current rules as to what constituted a TV special: no guest stars, no production numbers with a chorus of singers and dancers, just one woman singing.  She even ventured outside the studio to shoot a medley of songs in the exclusive fur department of Bergdorf Goodman. 

"You can imagine how nervous that made the network," Streisand later remarked, "when they learned that there would be no major guest stars, not even any minor ones—just me and a bunch of great songs and some wonderful musicians."

My Name is Barbra won five Emmys and a Peabody Award and was followed by two other specials for CBS: Color Me Barbra (1966) and The Belle of 14th Street (1967).  Streisand later directed two movies where she again had unprecedented creative control, the Oscar-winning Yentl (1983) and the Oscar-nominated The Prince of Tides (1991).

As she later said, “I was concerned with artistic control only.  I wanted to produce my own shows and now I can and nobody—not sponsors or advertisers or anyone—can interfere.”

You can watch the finale of the special here, where Barbra sings excerpts from “Funny Girl.”

Source: “’My Name is Barbra’ is Barbra Stresiand’s debut television special,” History.com; Barbra Streisand Archives.

1 Comment

I remember watching "Funny Girl"on tv when i was young i fell in love with Miss Streisand, "Hello Dolly" i would walk down our stairway pretending i was Dolly Levi. Than in 1976 "A Star is Born" i bought the soundtrack and memerized every song. The Prince of Tides, is the all time favorite, great actors great story, great soundtrack. And "The Way We Were" i was 10 or 11 yrs old and went to the theater in our small town, and fell in love with the movie, i still watch it a couple times a year. I think Barbra is beautiful and such a wonderful talent and beautiful voice. I thank her for such a talent and beauty, this world is so lucky to have someone like her "Miss Barbra Streisand"

Barbra Streisand, 1962
Full image

Actress, singer, film director/producer, and founder of the Streisand Foundation, Barbra Streisand in 1962.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "A 22-year-old’s first TV special: "My Name is Barbra"." (Viewed on January 18, 2018) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/apr/28/1965/this-week-in-history-22-year-old-s-first-tv-special-my-name-is-barbra>.

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