Today is one of the most important dates in Barbra Streisand’s life — her personal life. On December 29, 1966, Barbra Streisand became a mother for the first and only time in her life when Jason Emanuel Gould was born.
It all began when Barbra and then husband Elliott Gould learned that their bundle of joy was on the way. It was a tumultuous time in Streisand’s life. She’d played her last performance of “Funny Girl” on Broadway on December 26, 1965. Then Barbra jumped into filming her second television special “Color Me Barbra,” an extravaganza that had her shooting on location in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and romping with circus animals in a New York City television studio. By early April, she was on her way across the Atlantic to bring “Funny Girl” to London.
As Barbra recalled recently, on opening night — April 13, 1966 — she knew she was pregnant but it was still a secret to the world. As she smiled and accepted plaudits backstage from dignitaries, royalty and movie stars like Rex Harrison, in her mind she was being congratulated for having a baby on the way. Six days later, Elliott and Barbra shared the big news with the media and their baby was instantly made a celebrity.
You see, Barbra’s planned 26-cities concert tour in America, scheduled for that summer, had to be scaled back to just four shows. Barbra’s intent was to take it easy and nest until her baby appeared. Canceling all those shows cost her a fortune in box office receipts, not that she cared. The baby was what mattered most. However, in typical New York newspaper fashion, the headlines on the front page of the Daily News announced that the Gould’s child was a “Million Dollar Baby.”
In July and August, Barbra went to Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago and Newport for her final four concerts before taking a maternity leave. She sang and sang, showed off her baby bump and did some quirky monologues. She added the Christmas carol, “Sleep in Heavenly Peace” to her repertoire, a song that took on a new meaning when she performed it in the heat of the summer and with a child growing inside her.
When she was home, amid the resting and nesting and knitting, Barbra was also recording “Je M’appelle Barbra.” Interestingly, Barbra would later saying that having a baby was the most creative experience of her life. Listening to the tracks of “Je M’appelle” makes me think her creative juices were flowing musically as well, as she made one of her greatest recordings.
Baby Gould was due to arrive on December 15, and there were two false alarms. Finally, on December 28, 1966, Barbra checked into Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, using her favorite acting school alias, Angelina Scarangella. Jason Emanuel Gould was delivered by Caesarian section the next day at 3 p.m., weighing in at a very healthy 7 lb. 12 oz.
To say that Jason changed Barbra Streisand’s life is obvious. He was with her three months after his birth when she went to Hollywood to make “Funny Girl.” He was a toddler on the set of “Hello, Dolly!” In Africa to film “Up the Sandbox,” Jason played with the natives while mom made a movie. And when he was 24 years old, he played Barbra’s son and was directed by his mother in the film “The Prince of Tides.” At Barbra’s 1994, 2000 and 2006 concerts, Jason has always been front and center.
Today, in honor of Jason’s 45th birthday, we all send best wishes to the boy, younger man and now adult son who’s done nothing but been a positive reflection of his parents and a source of infinite pride and joy to his mom. As Barbra once said in describing Jason, “He’s a mensch.*” That’s high praise; high praise, indeed.
*Someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character