Streisand – A Letter To Barbra
“Do an interview with Barbra Streisand? I’m not a fan of hers,” I protested. But Goldie Tracy, of Ben & Goldie New Vaudeville Team, persisted. No, it was not Barbra but her mother, Diana Kind, Goldie’s old friend I talked to. Diana and her other daughter, Roslyn Kind, were in San Francisco for Roslyn’s singing engagement at Bimbo’s Cabaret. So we did the interview on my show for NPR affiliate KQED. Diana Kind was a petite, pretty woman and her daughter a lovely, talented young lady. During the interview, Diana surprised us by singing The Way We Were in a light, sweet soprano. Later Diana wrote me from her home in Los Angeles. We became friends, corresponded and spoke on the phone.
Much has been reported about Bad Barbra but she gets a gold star from Pat Fitzsimmons of Weymouth, England who will never forget Barbra’s kindness to a stranger.
“As a child born in 1944, I grew up with one dream,” said Pat. “To go to America. England in the 1950s was dreary; the country had just emerged from five years of war. Rationing lasted well into the ’50s. I learned everything I knew about America from the movies.
“My dream came true in 1965. I was working for Her Majesty’s Treasury. Their social club organized a charter flight to New York. I was 21. I knew Barbra Streisand was on Broadway in Funny Girl. I wrote to her at the Winter Garden Theatre telling her how much I admired her work and that I was coming to America and how could I get tickets to her show. Barbra was 23.
“I really didn’t expect a reply but a week later I had a letter from Barbra thanking me. She had arranged for two orchestra seats to be left at the box office.”
Pat still has the letter and ticket stubs.
“Then I saw Funny Girl twice when Barbra came to London’s West End in 1966. Not one to wait at stage doors, this time was an exception. We were asked to write on our Playbills and leave them. They were returned the next day signed by Barbra and her co-star Michael Craig.”
For the closing night party, Barbra sent to Coney Island for kosher hot dogs and sauerkraut to serve to her guests.
To Pat, who remains as devoted as ever, what happened 47 years ago (Pat now 69, Barbra 71) is as vivid today as it was back then. “That God-given voice has been with me through some bad and sad times,” she said, “joyous and happy ones, too.”
That 1965 fan letter was the only fan letter Pat ever wrote.