Laurie Hurst

My first exposure to Barbra Streisand began at the ripe old age of 9. I had just seen “What’s Up Doc?” and like many other fans, I was under her spell immediately. Though at 9 years old, I didn’t quite understand it. All I knew was I could not get this “Lady” out of my mind.  I didn’t know a movie star from a cosmic star, but I did know I had just witnessed something very special. I really was not very keen on “movie stars” so I kept asking my sister (who was 5 years older) “what was that funny lady’s name?” (That was literally what I called her long before I had seen the movie!) I remember feeling like I needed to know her name not only in my head but in my heart as well.Fast-forward to when I was 11. I happened to hear a song on the radio singing about “People”. I had never heard it before but loved it immediately and was shocked to find out it was that funny lady named Barbra Streisand. I remember thinking, “wow she can sing too?” But then once again youth took over and her name crept to the back of my mind until a year or so later.

I was changing channels late one night when I started watching this movie.  I missed the very beginning, so I didn’t catch the name but it was so compelling and had this beautiful woman in it. It was better than anything I had ever seen and when the movie was over, I was crying hysterically. The movie was “Funny Girl” and I never forgot her name or her face again.

We were not a family that went to the movies frequently. In fact, at that point in my life, I had only ever been to two movies at the theater: “What’s Up Doc?” and “Love Story”. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard a “new” movie was being released in theaters called “A Star Is Born” with this actress I now recognized as Barbra Streisand!

I knew this was a movie I had to see and at the time of its release, I was 14. About the same time I had my first “boyfriend” ask me out on a date…. I said yes and knew exactly where I wanted to go on this “date”! We arrived in front of the ticket window and I was so excited I could barely breath. Then the lady in the ticket window said the movie was rated R and we needed to be 17 to see it!! I could not believe I was this close and she was denying me access. Literally, I stood there with the biggest tears streaming down my face. I pleaded with her. I told her it was OK because I had my mom’s permission (which I did), but it was not to be. I was sent away almost in hysterics. I don’t remember ever going on another date with that boy. To this day, I still have not ever seen A Star Is Born on the big screen. I did, however, beg and nag my mother to death for an all white 3-piece suit and a perm. At 15 I finally got the perm.

When I was 16, a magnificent thing happened. We had just gotten one of the very first movie channels out at the time called channel 100 (it preceded HBO). It was scheduled to show A Star Is Born. This was a real “Happening” for me. I invited the whole family and one of my best buddies (a boy-friend) to sit and watch with me. Again, I was completely mesmerized in front of the TV screen. That is until the ending. About the time Esther Hoffman sat on the steps in her and John Norman’s mansion crying saying, “you promised me, you promised me” I began to sob. The sobs got more and more until I was actually in the ugly cry and had to leave the room. I missed her entire finale “With One More Look”. I never did see the complete ending uninterrupted until about 5 years later when I rented the laser disc.

From 9 until now I have read every published word about Barbra. I subscribed to magazines, joined fan clubs and I ordered from the I Luv Barbra catalog way back in the day when it was the only way to find Barbra memorabilia.  I have been to every movie opening and have attended 8 concerts including the B2B in Brooklyn. I’ve been a volunteer at the Streisand Center for Conservancy Studies, attended the Barbra Streisand Auction in Beverly Hills, and I live in Idaho.

Seeing and hearing Barbra has changed my life. And oh how times have changed and we have film technology at the touch of our fingertip. No waiting, no anticipation, and no build up as we had in the past. In some ways it is refreshing to know nothing will be missed. In some ways it is sad to know this generation will never know that kind of build up and the satisfaction of knowing it was so worth the wait.

Thank you Barbra for so many years of escaping though laughter, lost loves, song, and bittersweet endings. You have never disappointed.