The Way They Were? Barbra Streisand Had a Massive Crush on Robert Redford While Filming Classic Movie, New Biography Says

Along with Barbra Streisand's days as a star, the book also touched on her painful childhood

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty

Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford famously played love interests in the 1973 classic The Way We Were. But if it were up to the actress, their romance would have continued offscreen – or so a new biography claims.

In the upcoming Barbra Streisand: Redefining Beauty, Femininity, and Power, published by Yale University Press and out April 26, author Neal Gabler chronicles the two stars’ time together on set, asserting that Streisand had quite the crush on the actor.

“It was obvious Barbra was just too, too crazy about Bob. She had a hard time controlling her emotions, and when she played scenes with him, like the fireside courtship scene in Malibu, she was drooling,” recalled one person on set, Gabler writes in the book.

And while the two were praised for their turns as a politically active Jewish woman and a passive WASP who marry, only to find themselves as odds with each other over their views in the wake of World War II, getting Redford to appear in the film was no easy feat.

Gabler writes that the actor initially turned down the role because he thought the character was too one-dimensional. Only after director Sydney Pollack had the script rewritten to give the actor a larger, more substantial role, did he agree to costar in the film.

Pollack’s efforts certainly seemed to pay off. Streisand and Redford had an undeniable chemistry on screen, one that Gabler writes was due to their genuine interest in getting to know each other.

In fact, more than four decades after appearing onscreen together, Streisand has been open about the fondness she still feels recalling their time working together: At an event last year in New York City, the actress said she was “thrilled” to have been Redford’s leading lady.

“I’d like to say, ‘Dear Bob, it was such fun being married to you for a while. Too bad it didn’t work out,’ ” she said while presenting Redford with the Chaplin Award in April 2015. “But we made something that will last much longer than many real marriages. I am so proud of the work we did together.”

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Along with Streisand’s days as a star, Barbra Streisand: Redefining Beauty, Femininity, and Power also touched on her childhood.

After losing her father soon after her first birthday, Streisand was left to be raised by her depressed mother and her abusive grandparents. And when her mother got pregnant by a man who was still legally married, her life continued to take a turn for the worse, Gabler claims.

According to the book, Streisand’s stepfather idolized her sister Rosalind, while dismissing and insulting Streisand at every turn, constantly berating her looks.

“He didn’t talk to me. He didn’t see me. He didn’t recognize me. He didn’t like me,” the book quotes Streisand as saying in an previous interview to Vanity Fair.

But instead of letting her parents tear down her self-esteem and discourage her, the book claims, she embraced her obstacles and used them as motivation to get out of Brooklyn and into the limelight.

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