- Singer, actress, director, and producer
- Major supporter and funder of Democratic Party candidates and left-wing political causes
Born in Brooklyn, New York on April 24, 1942, Barbra Streisand is a world-famous singer, actress, director, and producer. For biographical details about her youth, her family background, and her entertainment career, click here.
In addition to her work as a performer, Streisand has long been a highly visible, outspoken advocate for, and funder of, Democratic Party candidates and left-wing causes. She also uses her Internet blog to share her views on a wide range of matters, including political and social issues.
Streisand steadfastly believes that the greenhouse gases associated with human industrial activity are major contributors to “climate change” and its potentially catastrophic ramifications. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, for instance, Streisand said that “we are in a global warming emergency state and these storms are going to become more frequent [and] more intense,” and that “for the United States not to be part of the Kyoto treaty is unforgivable.” In a piece she wrote for the Huffington Post twelve years later, Streisand said: “Fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas create heat-trapping emissions in the atmosphere, warming the planet. The oceans are warming as well — and the warmer the oceans, the stronger the storms.” Emphasizing that “climate change is real,” “ice caps are melting,” and “sea levels are rising,” Streisand exhorted her readers to pressure their representatives in Washington to “start working on clean and renewable energy, like solar and wind, that don’t pollute the atmosphere.” To further signal her commitment to environmental causes, she has established a Streisand Chair on Global Climatic Change at the Environmental Defense Fund.
Notwithstanding her passionate efforts to alert the public to the dangers of climate change, Streisand typically fails to heed her own dire warnings:
- She once told a Democratic Congressional Campaign Gala that she found “the shrinking of the ozone layer and melting icecaps frightening,” and shortly thereafter she purchased a new, gas-guzzling SUV.
- “Everyone has the power to make a difference by making simple, conscious decisions in their everyday lives,” Streisand once wrote on her website, where she urged people to take such measures as using CFL light bulbs, periodically cleaning the condenser coils on their refrigerators, and running their dishwashers only when full. But in his 2012 book Hollywood Hypocrites, author Jason Mattera points out that Streisand routinely spews massive quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by flying via private jets all over the world; that her music tours typically require thirteen large semi-trailers, four rental vans, fourteen buses, and one limousine to accommodate Streisand and her entourage; and that she typically spends $22,000 per year watering her own lavish lawns and gardens.
- When California experienced a severe electricity shortage in June 2001, Streisand urged people to cut back on their air-conditioner usage and to air-dry their laundry outdoors. But when her spokesman was asked whether Streisand planned to do the same, he replied: “You really expect me to ask her that?” As one friend of Streisand subsequently told reporters, “She is someone who cannot be hot, not even for a second.”
In 1986 Streisand established and endowed the Barbra Streisand Foundation (BSF), a philanthropy through which she supports numerous organizations that share her political and social values. Margery Tabankin has been the Foundation's executive director since 1988. Notwithstanding Streisand's outspokenness on environmentalism and the dangers allegedly posed by fossil fuels, BSF over the years has held large amounts of stock in various oil and coal companies (including Halliburton), but not in any solar-energy or hydrogen fuel-cell developers. Similarly, Streisand's consistent anti-war positions have not prevented her Foundation from owning shares in Honeywell and Lockheed Martin, two large defense contractors. As author Peter Schweitzer notes: “Streisand is hardly ignorant of these investments. To the contrary, she has bragged to Fortune magazine that she is an astute stock-picker.”
In June 1999, Streisand signed on to a full-page USA Today ad by Handgun Control, Inc. This “Open Letter to the National Rifle Association” called for the implementation of a number of gun-control measures, including mandatory child-safety locks, background checks, and 72-hour waiting periods for all handgun purchases. Among the other notable signatories to the ad were Alec Baldwin, Candice Bergen, Walter Cronkite, Phil Donahue, Bonnie Raitt, Julia Roberts, and Bruce Springsteen.
In 2000, Streisand was a signatory to a letter asking President Bill Clinton to place a moratorium on federal death-penalty executions, on grounds that the capital punishment system was “distorted by bias and arbitrariness.” Other signers of the letter included Mary Frances Berry, Julian Bond, Wade Henderson, Jesse Jackson, Norman Lear, Robert Reich, George Soros, and Jim Wallis.
In 2002, Streisand accused President George W. Bush of being “a destructive man” who was guilty of “poisoning our air and water” and “poisoning our political system as well.” “The Clinton administration left this country with a budget surplus,” she added, “and also a surplus in the goodwill we shared with our allies. Now we have a deficit in both.”
In 2002 as well, Streisand was a signatory to a letter addressed to President Bush and drafted by Artists United to Win Without War, asserting that a U.S. attack on Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq “will harm American national interests.” “We reject the doctrine,” the letter added, “... that our country, alone, has the right to launch first-strike attacks.” Additional signers included Edward Asner, Kim Basinger, Mike Farrell, Mia Farrow, Danny Glover, Robert Greenwald, Bonnie Raitt, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Martin Sheen, Gloria Steinem, and Howard Zinn.
When the late Communist dictator of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, wanted international monitors to oversee the political elections in his country in 2004, he asked both Streisand and film producer Michael Moore to serve in that role.
Streisand has long been a great admirer of civil-rights activist Jesse Jackson, lauding him for what she describes as his courage in taking on “the hard case[s].” She also has been a strong supporter of affirmative action as a means of opening the “locked doors” of racism. In her own personal business dealings, however, Streisand plays by a very different set of rules. As Peter Schweitzer wrote in 2006: “Streisand employs a large number of people through her various production companies … [but] it’s hard to find a single case where she has hired a black employee in a senior position. In fact, out of sixty-three producers and directors she has hired for various projects since 1983, only one was black.”
Streisand is a close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton. In November 2007 she endorsed Mrs. Clinton for the following year’s presidential election, calling her “a powerful voice for change” who could help the U.S. “regain its respect within the global community.” After Mrs. Clinton failed to secure the Democratic presidential nomination in June 2008, Streisand shifted her support to Barack Obama.
In 2012 Streisand supported “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA), an executive action by which President Obama guaranteed that most DREAM Act-eligible individuals would be granted temporary legal status, work permits, access to certain publicly funded social services, and protection from deportation.
When the Obama administration in 2015 was engaged in negotiations on a deal designed to constrain Iran's rapidly developing nuclear-weapons program, Streisand assured American Jews that President Obama stood “strongly with our ally Israel and in preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons.” After the accord was finalized that September, the editorial board of Streisand's blog condemned Republicans for opposing it. (For details about the deal's provisions, click here.)
In November 2015, Streisand told ABC News: “I want Hillary Clinton to be president. We need a woman president, we need compassion, we need to have a person who comes from the heart, and brain. And experience, experience counts.” At the annual Women in Entertainment breakfast in Los Angeles the following month, Streisand urged women to band together and support Mrs. Clinton. She also stated that “gender discrimination drives me crazy,” and lamented that “women are still treated as second-class citizens in the workplace and [with regard to] equal representation in Congress.” “In the last 55 years,” Streisand added, “almost all heart disease research has been done on men. Gender inequality even extends to mice in the labs: They're all male! So even female mice are discriminated against.”
In March 2016, Streisand wrote a short essay for the Huffington Post, in which she accused political pundits and the media at large of demonstrating “outright sexism” and “sexist condescension” in their coverage of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
In August 2016, just over two months before election day, Streisand vowed that she would move to Australia or Canada if Republican Donald Trump were to defeat Mrs. Clinton in the presidential election.
In October 2016, Streisand disseminated an email supporting California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom’s Proposition 63 – known as the Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases and Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban Initiative – and urging people to donate money “to defeat the National Rifle Association.”
In April 2017, Streisand suggested that a deep strain of American misogyny was at least partly responsible for Mrs. Clinton’s loss in the 2016 election: “Women are still so underestimated; it’s incredible to watch even this last election with Hillary, the kind of strong woman, the powerful woman, the educated woman, the experienced woman, being thought of as the other, or too elite, or too educated.” “Strong women have always been suspect in this country,” Streisand added.
Over the course of her entertainment career, Streisand has sold approximately 250 million records, second only to Elvis Presley. As Biography.com notes, she is “the only artist to have earned honors from all the major award institutions, including two Academy Awards, one Tony Award, five Emmys, 10 Grammys, 13 Golden Globes, a CableACE Award, the … Peabody Award, and the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award.” Streisand also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in November 2015. Nevertheless, in April 2017 she claimed that she would have won even more awards if not for the fact that some members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the entity responsible for selecting Oscar winners, “don’t want to see a woman director.”
After President Trump issued a January 2017 executive order temporarily suspending visa entry into the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim countries where terrorism was rampant, Streisand tweeted: “I absolutely oppose this Muslim ban. But why does it effect [sic] only countries with no Trump properties? Follow the $.”
Over the years, Streisand has owned a long succession of lavish homes and properties. Her current net worth is estimated at $390 million.
For additional information on Barbra Streisand, click here.