Barbra Streisand: ‘You can clone the look of a dog – you can’t clone the soul’

Barbra Streisand has written her autobiography, which means that for legions of fans, their bible will finally arrive on November 7. Clocking in at 992 pages (what, Babs, you couldn’t eke out another eight to make it 1,000?), My Name is Barbra covers everything — Marlon Brando’s pick up line to her, her pick up line to James Brolin, the fight to getting Yentl made, her signature eyeliner — and plenty more. Naturally, the woman who has an entire mall furnished in her basement has also lined up the very best press promotion for her book. Vanity Fair has made her the November cover story, and Editor in Chief Radhika Jones went to Malibu herself to interview Barbra. There is a lot to digest in the cover story, here are but a few highlights:

A heightened experience: Being with Barbra Streisand is a heightened experience. She comes prepared, carrying a folder with my name on it. She looks chic and comfortable wearing black pants and a gauzy top. We sit in her living room, the Pacific Ocean over her shoulder, and share a three-tiered tray of tea sandwiches and drink enormous cups of tea. Throughout our conversation she exhorts me to please eat, because she is eating, which she claims makes it easier to talk about herself. So we eat. At one point her three dogs come by for a visit. Two of them, Violet and Scarlet, are biological clones of Streisand’s beloved Sammie, a Coton de Tulear who died in 2017. Violet, despite allegedly being the well-mannered one, steals an egg sandwich.

A rose by any other name: To the extent that Streisand values fame, it’s not about a desire to be recognized or fulfilled by an audience. “I don’t think of myself as a movie star,” she says. Fame for her is a means to an end. Often, those ends are highly relatable. In the book, she recalls a moment in her third-floor walk-up on West 48th Street, at a time when she was earning $55 a week working for a press firm and eating at the Automat. She loved clean sheets and a freshly made bed but couldn’t get the knack of hospital corners. “I have a vivid memory of standing in the doorway of the bedroom,” she writes, “looking at the rumpled sheets, and thinking, I have to become famous just so I can get somebody else to make my bed.” The only time she brings up her own celebrity in our conversation — brings it up as a source of unalloyed joy, I mean — is when I ask her how she came to have a rose named after her. “Because I’m famous!” she exclaims.

The Streisand Effect: There are also moments that are highly Streisand-specific. For example, you may be curious to know her take on the Streisand Effect: “When I first heard the term, I naively thought, Is that about the effect of my music? Little did I know.” She writes that she didn’t intend to try to remove the picture of her house, she just didn’t want her name to be publicized with it, for security reasons.

You can’t clone a soul: On cloning, a topic on which precious few people can offer testimonials, she notes, “You can clone the look of a dog but you can’t clone the soul.” To clarify, she doesn’t regard that as a bad thing. (I can confirm that the dogs are their own individual doggy selves and also adorable.)

She tried for 20 years to make a sequel to The Way We Were: I venture, cautiously — aware I might be committing blasphemy — that these days the way to get this sequel made with Redford would be to de-age him. Streisand lights up. “Oh! That’s funny,” she says. “It’s actually a good idea.” It occurs to me that a director who cloned her dog would not hesitate to embrace all available technologies. Plus, she’d seen the first 10 minutes of the new Indiana Jones movie and thought they did a great job with Harrison Ford. We move on to other topics, and I even get to see the Barbra Streisand rose in the garden, but as we say our goodbyes, she circles back to the subject of the sequel. She’s going to call Redford and see what he thinks.

[From Vanity Fair]

Yeah, I highly doubt Robert Redford will say yes to a sequel now, but prove me wrong, Hubbell! As for Barbra’s wanting to be famous so someone could make her bed, I was gearing myself up for a takedown on how out of touch she sounds, but really I’m just jealous. My hospital corners are lousy, too.

The real news item here for our site, though, is the confirmation that Barbra Streisand reads Celebitchy. No, she does not say that outright. But in 2018 when we covered her cloned pups Violet and Scarlet, Kaiser said “I believe animals have souls and each one has their own personality, and that’s part of the joy of being mom to a fur-baby.” And now, five years later, Barbra is saying “You can clone the look of a dog but you can’t clone the soul.” She totally reads us, you guys. That’s enough proof for me! I also feel like her subtext in this instance is “no, I will not spend a kabillion dollars again to have my dog cloned.”

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21 Responses to “Barbra Streisand: ‘You can clone the look of a dog – you can’t clone the soul’”

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  1. MrsBanjo says:

    “Throughout our conversation she exhorts me to please eat, because she is eating, which she claims makes it easier to talk about herself. So we eat. ”

    This is the bit that spoke to me as a Jewish mother.

    • Moira's Rose's Garden says:

      Not a Jewish mother (unless I was in a past life), but that part resonated with me too.

    • Flamingo says:

      I love people who’s love language is food. They speak my language.

      • ama1977 says:

        Me too. I love to feed people. I’m knee-deep in food right now (figuratively, I am a VERY clean cook!), hosting my son’s cross country team for a pasta dinner before their district meet tomorrow. Food is love to me (I come by it naturally, my mom’s side is Italian-American.) I’m feeding +/- 20 teenage boys tonight!!

        I don’t think she sounds horrifically out of touch. She made her own bed before she had money to hire someone to do it, and there is no arguing that the woman is talented and earned her money. I’m also glad to see that she fed the reporter, because whoever interviewed Gwyneth for Vogue in yesterday’s posts was probably lucky to get a glass of water.

  2. Lili says:

    For some reason I love Her and think of her as a true Feminist,

  3. Isa says:

    I always say if I win the lottery I’d hire someone to make my bed every day. The days I wash my sheets and slide into a perfectly tucked bed are amazing.

    • helonearth says:

      I agree! My favourite part of staying in a hotel is someone else making the bed.

      • DaveW says:

        This! And fresh folded towels. I always request a daily room refresh when I’m at a hotel. It also helps keep someone employed because for all their PR about trying to be sustainable, save water, etc. it is all about profits for their stockholders.

    • Colleen says:

      100% this! I try very hard to be a calm, even keeled, laid back mom because I didn’t grow up with one. My kids however, know i have one HUGE pet peeve….my bed. I like my bed neat, clean, fluffy and NOT rumpled. LOL. they tease me about it endlessly. 🙂 We do snuggle in it….I just like it a certain way.

    • Flamingo says:

      Truth! My Mom has perfect bedmaking skills. And she has tried to teach me over and over. I just can’t do it as good as her. I get so excited to visit her and beg her to make my bed. I feel like I’m at the Ritz when she does it. When I do it, it’s Motel 6.

  4. RMS says:

    Bucky, my rescue Coton d’Tulear, died 2 years ago after 13 years of taking care of me. That breed is so loving, so clown-y, so attached to their human, I can see why one would clone them in the hopes of having them back. Grief from losing a dog can make you do crazy things; so I sort of get what she was going for..

    • Genevieve says:

      Yeah, my dog is turning 14 in January (if all goes well), and she’s the best dog I ever had. If I could get a perfect clone (personality included), and unlimited funds, it would be tempting. (Irish terrier that I got as a puppy from a rescue – not for the faint of heart, but if you’re willing to put in a lot of work early on, awesome breed!)

  5. Barbie1 says:

    Preach Barbara. Can’t wait to read it

  6. lunchcoma says:

    You know, I hire someone to clean my house twice a month. Those are the only times my bed is made. And I completely get what she was thinking that day. I think most of us have a few chores we’d do a lot to get off of our list, and it’s a pretty relatable reason to want to be more successful.

    As for the dogs, that’s pretty much what I thought cloning pets would lead to. Beyond the soul stuff, part of what makes the bond with a pet strong is who we were and what we were going through during the time we knew them. You’re never going to be able to duplicate the experience, not just because the cloned pet is someone else, but because you sort of are too. Anyway, I’m glad she does seem to love the dogs despite that. I mostly worried that pet cloning would lead to some very unloved little animals.

  7. Giddy says:

    Admiral William H. McRaven gave a commencement speech at the University of Texas and used making your bed as a main theme. (the whole speech is incredible and worth a read) Since his speech I have tried hard to always make my bed. He and Barbra both value that bed! Here is part of what he said:

    “If you can’t do the small things right, you will never do the big things right. And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

  8. Flamingo says:

    I remember a story from Lucille Ball’s memoir. She said she was at a party and everyone was asking this young woman to sing for them. Lucy had no idea who she was at the time. She told them ‘She doesn’t sing for free’ and shut it down.

    It was Barbara Streisand, she knew her worth from the start.

  9. Anna says:

    I have a coton de tulear. I’ve had dogs my whole life, but never a dog like this. I remember reading the cloning story a few years ago and laughing at the eccentricness of the rich and famous, but now I get it. They are darling, wonderful, womens best friend. I would if I could, even if the next one’s soul was different.

  10. Ann says:

    I’m buying her book for my MIL. She loves Babs!

  11. TheVolvesSeidr says:

    I saw her with James, his brother & SIL @ a fancy restaurant in Newport Bch (CA) one night 25 years ago. I was blown away by how teeny tiny she is. She is literally delicate looking. TINY. And James Brolin’s brother made James look homely, he’s so handsome. My SIL & I had to use the restroom several times b/c we had to walk by the bar where they were all seated on a couch. That’s my big Babs story. I love her.

  12. Escape says:

    My favorite movie, the movie I have watched the most amount of times is What’s up Doc. That is Barbra to me.