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Hello, Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  599 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
The best-selling biographer of Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor tells the electrifying story of how Barbra Streisand transformed herself into the greatest star of her era, etching “an indelible portrait of the artist as a young woman” (Publishers Weekly).

In 1960, she was a seventeen-year-old Brooklyn kid with plenty of talent but no connections and certainly no mone
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published September 1st 2012)
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Oct 30, 2012 Alla rated it it was amazing
“Hello, Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand” by William J. Mann tracks the four years, 1960-1964, that turned Streisand from a seventeen-year-old wannabe to an outright star, starring in a Broadway play after successfully securing her management team and seducing large crowds with her nightclub singing, and poised to enter Hollywood. This isn’t a story about what she did after she became famous, but rather how she became famous in the first place.

Interestingly enough, even though these four car
Joy H.
Added 4/20/13
Barbra Streisand fascinates me. She is an original. As the book suggests, she has many sides to her personality... and they are ALL original! She's different! Have those many odd characteristics been magnified and merchandised to finally bring her fame? Maybe. No matter. She made it! And she's still different. And gifted with a gorgeous voice.

I'm impressed with the way make-up has brought out her hidden beauty. She was fortunate enough to run into the right people who knew how to ha
Nov 21, 2012 Debbie rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I thoroughly enjoyed this biography and wish the author had continued past the stage production of "Funny Girl." He went into so much depth as he followed Streisand's rise to fame that I felt cheated out of "the rest of the story." Mann's writing kept me engaged, and the pages flew by. I have not read any other Streisand biographies, but I highly recommend this one and desperately request a Part 2!!
Lynne Perednia
Nov 17, 2012 Lynne Perednia rated it liked it
Before Madonna, before Lady Gaga, before Nicki Minaj or any other performer of the past 50 years, there was Barbra. Hello Gorgeous is a well-structured look at how a quirky teenager who desperately wanted to become an actress became one, but not before becoming the toast of Broadway and a woman who didn't even realize the power of her gift -- that voice. That glorious voice.

William J. Mann, whose previous books include biographies of Elizabeth Taylor, Katherine Hepburn and John Schlesinger, as w
Jan 22, 2013 Wanda rated it it was ok
Covers a crucial 5 years in Streisand's life when she goes from 17 year old wannabe to stardom. Nothing new in this book, although it is pretty well written. Lots of speculative sentences which became annoying after a while. If you don't know for sure, don't include it. Not sure why the author wrote it when there are so many biographies of Streisand. The only thing that it did confirm is that most biographers have a hard time getting past Streisand's abrasive and self-centered personality. She c ...more
Dec 23, 2012 Brie rated it it was ok
This was a tedious and pretentious read.It seemed to have a lot of padding added to it by the writer because I do not believe he knew exactly what Streisand and her friends were feeling in 1960 or 1961.A lot of what was written makes me think he wasn't entirely truthful in this biography writing because it was written so 'story like". It also only covered 5 years of Streisand's life and went into detail about her performances...all that were long before Mann's time so it makes me side-eye him as ...more
Feb 08, 2013 Carol rated it it was ok
Ya' gotta be a fan to slog through this one. As other reviewers have said, the details about the early '60 s entertainment scene are Interesting. The author's style is pedestrian, puffy, and sometimes hilarious. There must be six or seven instances where he writes, "It was on this day, or one very much like it . . ." There is a lot of detail about what Barbra was wearing, what Barbra was eating, how Barbra wore her hair, what Barbra said, what Barbra was really thinking on a particular day or on ...more
Michael Porter
Jan 24, 2015 Michael Porter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

By William J. Mann

I want to start out with the fact that I love William J. Mann as an author. I have read all of his books (except the last one). But, if had never read this biographic novel concerning Barbra Streisand, I would have missed nothing.

I guess as much as I love William J. Mann, matches how much I dislike Barbara Streisand. I picked up the book ONLY because William J. Mann wrote it.

He contains his writing to her early years, winter 1960 thru sp
Seale Ballenger
Nov 16, 2012 Seale Ballenger rated it it was ok
I thought this book was a full biography of Barbra Streisand and was disappointed that it only cover a few of the early years of her career. The last 40 years of her life are quickly summarized in the final paragraphs of the book. I felt short changed.
Halli Casser-Jayne
I'm looking forward to my interview with William J. Mann on The Halli Casser-Jayne Show, Wednesday 3 pm ET October 10th to discuss his wonderful biography of Barbra Streisand.
Cynthia ☮ ❤ ❀
Jun 29, 2014 Cynthia ☮ ❤ ❀ rated it really liked it
Here is a secret about me, movie trivia is my thing. Not current stuff, I'm talking tidbits from the silent era to about 1970. I often lament...If only I could cash in on my worthless movie knowledge. Honest to goodness, I'm a savant when it comes to this topic, which brings me to my other secret love and that is reading autobiographies and biographies of actresses, actors, directors, producers, screenwriters...well, you get the idea, so I'd never pass up the opportunity to read about one of the ...more
Jun 04, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it
If you are wanting a biography of Barbra from start to now... this is not that book. However if you want to know what the early years were like for Barbra and those around her this is that book.
Barbra decided that she wanted to be an actress, but to make money she needed to sing. She didn't want to be a singer, but she did want to eat. Others saw in her something special, something unique that was not only marketable but stunning.
When Barbra sang, she sang from her heart and soul. She gave it h
Tom Holehan
Jan 07, 2013 Tom Holehan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating account of the legendary singer that concentrates solely on the crucial first five years of her career. And what a five years! I'm a Streisand fan and it was great to learn so much about this driven, gifted artist and her single-minded pursuit to become the star she is today. Mann is a superb writer and biographer and his work here is extremely well-researched and thorough. I found it interesting that Mann was not a big fan of Streisand and think this may have helped in his objecti ...more
Alasdair Craig
Jun 01, 2014 Alasdair Craig rated it really liked it
Biography spanning the years 1960 to 1964 which were pivotal and career-defining ones for Streisand.

I felt Mann tried too hard at making it read like a story with descriptions that the author could not possibly have known. For example what colour the sky was that day, how she was feeling, what he was thinking, how he woke her with a kiss on the cheek, etc. Sparse insertions of historic events to set the scene did however work well, e.g. Marilyn Monroe's suicide, the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK's
Feb 26, 2014 Sasha rated it it was amazing
"Hello, Gorgeous" is by far the most serious and meticulously researched biography of Streisand I have read so far, surpassing both James Spada and Shaun Considine in depth, understanding and even style - William J. Mann is a joy to read, specially as he has different perspective: he focuses exclusively on first few years of Streisand struggle upwards, up to her "Funny girl" triumph on Broadway, so the whole book is basically only a chapter in her long career, but a immensely important since the ...more
Apr 30, 2014 Erin rated it really liked it
As a huge fan of Funny Girl, this book caught my eye. It only further increased my admiration for Streisand and her work. The biography reads like a story, flowing, intimate, and detailed. Mann certainly did his research, leaving me quite impressed. He also does an excellent job connecting Streisand's timeline to world history, referencing events like JFK's assassination and the Beatle's coming to America to set the scene and time period of the book. It's interesting to see how Streisand got to ...more
Vera Long
May 27, 2016 Vera Long rated it liked it
If you're really a Barbra Streisand fan, you'll love this book. The entire book covers her early career up to the opening of Funny Girl on Broadway.
Apr 04, 2015 Darlene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Babs fans
Recommended to Darlene by: Kindle Unlimited
This was not my favorite biography of Barbra Streisand, but I couldn't stop reading all the same. It was different than others I have read in that it helped me see more of her time between being a new singer and the finish of Funny Girl. Being the fangirl I am for Babs, I can never get enough of her. She still mystifies us all with her abilities and talents. Thank you, William J. Mann for delving into this unique life for the rest of us.

I picked this up for free from Kindle Unlimited. It is stil
Dec 05, 2014 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The early years in Barbra's career (1960-1964)up to the stage production of Funny Girl. A big 500 page book covering just 5 years? It might sound like overkill, but to serious Streisand fans this is manna from heaven. William J Mann confesses in his Acknowledgements that before he began this book he was an indifferent fan, not quite understanding the adoration Barbra evokes from the faithful, but it soon became clear that love her or hate her, she is a force of nature who cannot be ignored.

So, t
Dec 25, 2015 Therese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Streisand

Barbra Streisand has always fascinated me, both as an actress, and a singer, but I knew very little about her beginnings and what really made her tick. This book gives me an idea of how she became Funny Girl, a larger than life persona with the voice and quirkiness to match. This book is about the first five years of her climb to fame, something she always wanted and craved perhaps because she didn’t get anything from her mother who said it couldn’t be done. Streisand idolized the image of
Feb 04, 2013 Alecia rated it really liked it
This is not the only biography of Barbra Streisand that I have read. But it is the only one that focuses on the five years (1960-65) when she experiences her meteoric rise to stardom. I am not a Streisand "fan", but I certainly appreciate her talent and drive. It was interesting to concentrate on that time period, as her ascension was so swift, and she was so very young ( a broadway leading lady at 21). The calculation involved to develop a "kookie" persona is intersting, as is her young wish to ...more
Roz Warren
Feb 24, 2013 Roz Warren rated it liked it
Ten Things I Learned about Streisand from reading “Hello Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand”

Streisand was a smoker by the time she was 10. She taught her mother to smoke.

She has tinnitus (ringing ears).

She once had an affair with Tommy Smothers.

Liberace was a big fan.

She originally wanted to be a serious dramatic actress and acted out scenes from Chekov and Shakespeare in the privacy of her room.

Retired silent film star Lillian Gish was so impressed when she first saw Streisand perform that s
Dec 30, 2012 Marisa rated it really liked it
One might think, upon glancing at the cover of Hello Gorgeous, that the book is another Hollywood tell-all - all fluff and no substance. This couldn't be farther from the truth.

The author conducted meticulous and in-depth research that chronicles the first four years in the career of Barbra Streisand, one of the most private of Hollywood superstars. We meet a vulnerable yet driven 17 year old from Brooklyn who is determined to become an actress. Not a singer. In fact, the singing is almost an af
Nov 04, 2013 Filip rated it really liked it
What does it take to become a celebrity? First and foremost, an iron-clad narcissism, a ruthless way with friendships, a keen and constant sense of where one finds oneself on the ladder, and an iconoclastic lack of discipline (when imposed by others). Those are the main requirements. If, on top of that, you have a talent, you are on your way to stardom. That's what I remember from this biography of Barbra's early career (having two friends who made it to national stardom in Europe, I couldn't he ...more
Dec 04, 2012 Claire rated it really liked it
William J. Mann is an excellent writer who has a knack for weaving factual details into passages that read like a novel. In Hello, Gorgeous, Mann expertly recreates 1960s NYC and Barbra's early days as a performer. I really enjoyed reading the descriptions of nightclubs-gone-by like the infamous Bon Soir that helped catapult Barbra to stardom. Mann is also evidently quite a fan of Barbra, or at least he became one during his research, as there is hardly a negative description of her in the entir ...more
Jan 22, 2013 Amy rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir, nyc
The fairy-tale, rags-to-riches four years of Barbra Streisand's early career. I got most of the way through this chunkster book, even though this is a lot more detail about Streisand and the Broadway scene than I'm interested in. Three things kept me interested.

(1) Descriptions of Manhattan in the early 1960s. Night clubs. Diners. Streisand and Gould living in a tiny apartment above a greasy spoon restaurant.
(2) Streisand's curious personality--the cultivated "kookiness," the drive to be a seri
Marcy Peskin-Larkin
Dec 05, 2012 Marcy Peskin-Larkin rated it liked it
A Barbra fan due to early parental exposure, I was looking forward to this book in a way that gripped both heart and mind in that sense of tasty anticipation. The book starts out strong with details that bring the reader into those years, even if you are a generation or two too young to have remembered the events. This was not the kind of book that one could read through quickly only skimming over the words. It was the kind of book that screamed for a cup of tea, a comfy chair and plenty of time ...more
Holly Weiss
Sep 27, 2012 Holly Weiss rated it really liked it
Streisand On Fire With Guts – The Early Years

This biography of Barbra Streisand is a timely release, marking her fiftieth anniversary in show business. While the singer/actress giant is still actively performing (sold out for her tour at age seventy), Hello Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand covers only the first four years of her career in show business. It is a detailed account of how this petite-sized young woman and her “out-sized” personality” took the entertainment industry by storm.

Oct 12, 2013 Don rated it it was amazing
In the film Yentl, Barbra Streisand begins a song with the words "There are moments you

remember all your life." Well, for me, one of those moments came in 1968. My sister and her

friends went to the movies one night and when she came home, she could not stop talking

about the feature she saw, "Funny Girl," starring Barbra Streisand. For some reason that I

no longer recall, Peggy didn't buy the album, but I did. And the rest, as they say, is

history. From the moment I heard that amazing voice, I
Jul 15, 2013 Leigh rated it liked it
I admit that I was not the biggest Barbra Streisand fan. In fact, I picked this up for this very reason. This book is 500 pages - and focuses entirely on the first four densely-packed years of Streisand's career from 1960 - 1964 - beginning when she was just 17 years old and singing in supper clubs to her breakout into musical theater and eventually Hollywood - landing the role of Fanny Brice in 'Funny Girl' The author, William Mann, says that he meticulously researched this in various archives ...more
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Also writes children's books under the pseudonym Geoffrey Huntington.
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“Barbra [was a] different-looking, different-sounding, different acting lad[y] of great personal charisma who redefined what it meant to be glamorous.” 4 likes
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