When Barbra Streisand made her Broadway debut in 1962 in I Can Get It for You Wholesale, she was still a somewhat-unlikely star. After graduating from high school and moving to Manhattan in 1959, she experienced a slew of rejection from casting agents who told her repeatedly that she was “talented but too ugly.” Yet, as the dowdy secretary Yetta Tessye Marmelstein, Streisand stole the show — and earned a Best Supporting Actress Tony nomination. A year later, she won Grammys for Album of the Year and Best Female Vocalist for her first record, The Barbra Streisand Album, and quickly became one of the most enduring icons of her time.
“She is Cinderella at the ball, every hopeless kid’s dream come true,” Shana Alexander wrote in Streisand’s 1964 Life cover story. “Her show is a sellout and her albums are a smash. Even more remarkable is the sudden nationwide frenzy to achieve the Streisand ‘look.’ Hairdressers are being besieged with requests for Streisand wigs (Beatle, but kempt). Women’s magazines are hastily assembling features on the Streisand fashion (threadbare) and the Streisand eye makeup (proto-Cleopatra).”
This month, a new book Streisand: In the Camera Eye pays tribute to Streisand’s long, varied career on stage, film, and television. Starting with her early days on Broadway, James Spada presents a visual timeline of Streisand’s career highlights — and evolving style — including shots from her performances in Funny Girl and Funny Lady, Hello, Dolly! and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.
Click through the slideshow for a look back at Streisand’s glory days, including the sheer suit she wore in The Owl and the Pussycat, an outtake from her first album cover, and more than one glorious wig.