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Editor reviews

Acclaimed show biz biographer William J. Mann turns his perceptive and thorough eye on an icon whose rise to fame was fueled by brilliant talent and "a wave of master salesmanship", the legendary Barbra Streisand. Performed in an engaging, studious, and occasionally skeptical tone by New York actor Elizabeth Morton, Hello Gorgeous is a study of Streisand’s early years, when she transformed herself from a working-class Brooklyn kid at Erasmus High School into "a superstar the world either loved…or loathed".

Streisand’s talent and marketing acumen are effectively dissected, and the meticulously detailed backdrop of 1960’s New York - rehearsal halls, penthouse suites, and ubiquitous power brokers - are sure to be of interest to any aficionado of Mad Men, Broadway, and, of course, Babs herself.

Summary

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 17-year-old Brooklyn kid with plenty of talent but no connections and certainly no money; her mother brought her soup to make sure she stayed fed as she took acting classes and scraped out a living. Just four years later, Barbra Streisand was the top-selling female recording artist in America and the star of one of Broadway’s biggest hits. Now the acclaimed Hollywood biographer William Mann chronicles that dizzying ascent, telling the riveting behind-the-scenes story of how Streisand and her team transformed her from an unknown dreamer into a worldwide superstar.

Drawing on the private papers of Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse, and interviewing scores of the friends and lovers who knew Barbara before she became Barbra, Mann recreates the vanished world of 1960s New York City and uncovers the truth behind the myths of her formative years. He shows us how Funny Girl was slowly altered, by Fosse and Robbins among others, from a Fanny Brice bio into a star-making vehicle for Streisand; takes us into the clubs and onto the set for her early nightclub and television appearances, including her torch-handing turn with Judy Garland; and introduces the canny marketing team whose strategies made her stardom seem inevitable. The Streisand who emerges is a revelation: a young woman who, for all her tough-skinned ambition, was surprisingly vulnerable in love.

Everyone who has felt outside the gate, as she once did, remembers a time when the newness and difference of Barbra Streisand changed everything and rewrote all the rules. In Hello, Gorgeous, Mann incisively illuminates the woman before she became the icon and pays tribute to one of the world’s most beloved performers.

©2012 William J. Mann (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Hello, Gorgeous

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Barbara The Beautiful

From a very small girl when I first saw Barbra in Funny Girl sing 'Don't Rain On My Parade" I was hooked ! Hearing her sing "People" and many other favourite songs. Watching Hello Dolly I just loved her and so wanted to meet her. Because like her I have a large nose but because of Barbra I chose not to change it !! My dream eventually came true when I attended the Chaplin Award at the Lincoln Centre NY in 2013 to honour Barbra. Even though I was a long way back, I was in her company it was Fantastic. Thank you Barbra from your British sister who loves you so very much. This book gave me an even greater in site, it is a must read. very good.

1 person found this helpful

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  • J-sun Burns
  • 05-11-20

Narration needs improving!

So many names of famous people and words mispronounced. Very annoying. Doesn’t anyone check on this or direct the narrator? For me it detracted from listening to the book. Could easily be fixed but probably too late.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Terry Darden
  • 19-11-14

Needs New Narrator

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No - narrator should be better.

How could the performance have been better?

The narrator spoke way too slow and sounded like she was reading the book to grade school children.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

I absolutely love Barbra Streisand and am going to finish the book because of that, but the narrator makes it very difficult for me to concentrate on the book's content.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Linda
  • 04-10-20

Not a Barbra fan. Thought it might change my mind

I never have gotten Barbras fame. I thought she was aloof and annoying, occasionally had a good song but always rehashing someone else’s material. I thought this might show me some secret reasons to like her. Nope! This book pretty much showed me I was right. Well researched and written.

3 people found this helpful

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  • JimmyRae
  • 14-02-14

LIKE BUTTAH!

Would you listen to Hello, Gorgeous again? Why?

I would listen again and again as this delight is so chock full of wonderful details only one read may leave you missing out on some of its many gems.

What other book might you compare Hello, Gorgeous to and why?

I don't know...

Which character – as performed by Elizabeth Morton – was your favorite?

Barbra, but of course

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

becoming Barbra Streisand

Any additional comments?

Pure delight...just like BUTTAH

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  • SSK
  • 08-12-20

Very good story.

I moved speed to 1.2 and it improved listening to this narrator. I’m a long time fan of Streisand.

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  • Bethany
  • 16-11-20

So much to learn about Barbra!

I really enjoyed this book. There was so much myth behind the actual legend of this incredible woman. I’m so glad the author took his time sorting through what was fact and what wasn’t. Her mother was a troubling part of Barbra’s life but this story seemed to give another point of view about that. I hope some common ground was made between them. I loved learning about her determination, and the fact that she was so singularly focused on her career wasn’t sugar coated. This was a really enjoyable read.

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  • george sanchez
  • 18-12-17

Excellent attention to detail

I wish this book was longer to really capture
Every decade in a long career

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  • Anna L. Blair
  • 20-04-21

great subject matter

really enjoyed the book but the narrator mispronounced quite a few words, which was annoying.

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  • Michele Green
  • 04-04-21

Barbra Becomes Famous

From the moment I began reading this book, I could not put it down. The story of how Barbara became famous and how it all happened was fascinating. I loved hearing about girlfriends and how she started off in nightclubs and evolved into television shows and hit Broadway by storm. I highly recommend this book to any body who is interested in Barbra Streisand or in how A Star is Born from a background that was not from wealth in any way. You'll love it!

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  • R
  • 11-01-21

Descriptive narrative read by ignorant narrator

William Mann tells a compelling tale with a very lush and descriptive narrative. He delves deeply into the complexity of her rise.

My complaints would be he overuses of the word neophyte, and there's a touch too much supposition, eg., perhaps she..., maybe she, etc.

What's most infuriating is the lack of the narrator's knowledge of how to properly pronounce some words, but especially the names of historical figures who are featured prominently in the story, namely Zigfeld, which she adds an i to to make Zigfield, and Jule Styne, who's first name she pronounces Jool instead of Julie. A simple Google search would yield the correct pronunciations.

1 person found this helpful