- 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, BarbraStreisand.com, to share her views on a wide range of matters, including political and social issues.
The Barbra Streisand Foundation
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 Schweizer 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, Cher, Walter Cronkite, Matt Damon, Ellen DeGeneres, Phil Donahue, Spike Lee, Madonna, Bonnie Raitt, Tim Robbins, Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, Bruce Springsteen, and Harvey Weinstein.
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 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, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Wade Henderson, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. James Lawson, Norman Lear, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Mario Obledo, Robert Reich, George Soros, and Rev. Jim Wallis.
An ardent environmentalist, Streisand in 2002 claimed that Republicans were to blame for “poison in the water, salmonella in the food, carbon dioxide in the air, and toxic waste in the ground.”
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 September 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 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.”
Contempt for President George W. Bush
In 2001, 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.”
In 2002, 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.
Ties to Hugo Chavez
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.”
Greedy, Corrupt, & Difficult to Deal With
In his 2006 book Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy, the aforementioned Peter Schweizer documents how difficult, greedy, and miserly Streisand frequently is. Below are some excerpts from Schweizer’s book:
- “The California Coastal Records Project is the brainchild of dot-com millionaires Ken and Gabrielle Adelman.… Their goal in establishing the Records Project in 2002 was simple: to take photos of the entire California coastline and post the pictures online. Already environmentalists have used the photos to stop the construction of illegal seawalls. The only part of the 1,150-mile coastline they decided not to shoot was near Vandenberg Air Force Base, due to fears that the photos might be used by terrorists. Otherwise they had never encountered any problems—until they ran into Barbra Streisand. As with every one of the other twelve thousand photos they had taken, the Adelmans flew over water and snapped photos of Streisand’s enormous Point Dume estate, with its half dozen homes and six chimneys, then posted them on the Internet. Streisand demanded that the photos be taken down, claiming that they violated her privacy and property rights. The Adelmans refused, saying that they were simply trying to document coastal erosion in the area. Streisand promptly sued them for $50 million, but the Adelmans refused to back down. To the contrary, they claimed that Streisand was then ‘in the process of doing extensive development on her blufftop estate’ and was less concerned with her privacy rights than with preventing documentation of ‘numerous violations’ of development regulations.… The case went to trial, and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Allan Goodman dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that Streisand was violating the Adelmans’ ‘free speech rights on a matter of public concern.’ … For good measure, the judge ordered Streisand to pay the Adelmans’ legal bills.”
- “Brad Meltzer worked for Streisand for a year and a half and left on good terms. ‘She was generous in terms of large amounts—big charities, things like that,’ he said, ‘but absolutely mean and niggardly about the salaries of the working people she hired. I recall once that Jon [Peters] had hired some young Mexican workers who had no green cards and paid them three-fifty an hour, but the work wasn’t getting done fast enough. Barbra wanted them to work overtime. They asked for an additional twenty-five cents an hour overtime. She told me to fire them and have them replaced. It killed me, but I did it.’”
- “Over the years, pool contractors, a masonry supply company, and a general contractor, all hired to do work at her Malibu ranch, had to place liens on the property in order to get paid. Unpaid bills ranged from $4,500 to $50,000. She was also sued by (and settled with) a screenwriter she had commissioned to write a script who claimed she would not pay him.”
- “On the movie set or on tour, she could be mean and abusive to the help. On the set of Funny Girl, she had veteran makeup lady Gertrude Wheeler literally in tears. ‘She doesn’t go out of her way [for people],’ said friend and producer William Wyler. ‘It’s not her manner to be especially gracious. It’s just not in her makeup; that’s not the girl.’”
- “Many of those who worked with her—Walter Matthau, Peter Bogdanovich, Kris Kristofferson—found her impossible. (‘Filming with Streisand is an experience which may have cured me of the movies,’ Kristofferson said.) Crew members are told to ‘look away’ when she passes them lest they lose their job. They are forbidden to watch rehearsals. When she sang at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for $10 million a performance, hotel employees who might encounter her in the hallway were under strict instructions to turn their backs to avoid eye contact.”
- “She may talk about the necessity of labor unions to protect a ‘living wage.’ But Streisand herself has always been the consummate capitalist. She has been making her own films for twenty years and owns several production companies, the most successful of which is called Barwood Films…. [S]he prefers to do her filming and postproduction work in Canada, where she can pay less than American union wages and get healthy tax breaks from the Canadian government.”
- “In 1993, after years of lavish spending and little work, she discovered she was almost broke…. The best way to bring in money quickly was to organize a concert tour. It had been twenty-seven years since she last appeared onstage, and interest was expected to be high. So promotion began for an international tour, and sticker shock emerged when the ticket prices were posted. Front row seats could set you back $1,000 apiece, far higher than anything anyone had ever been asked to pay.… The outrageous prices were justified on the grounds that this was absolutely the last time Barbra Streisand would ever sing in public. But she pulled the same stunt seven years later, when she staged a series of high-priced ‘millennium’ concerts.”
- “Streisand has said that, unlike Republicans, she doesn’t want to ‘cater to the rich. I’d rather pay more taxes.’ Such talk comes easily to wealthy liberals like Streisand. But when it comes to her own money, she is shrewd—sometimes too shrewd. When she tried to sell her Malibu property in the early 1990s, she put it on the market for $16 million. When she couldn’t find a buyer, she hiked the price to $19 million. Then she dropped the price to $11.9 million. Finally she donated the property to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and took a $15 million write-off. How could she claim a $15 million deduction for a house that wouldn’t sell for $11.9 million? That’s what the IRS wanted to know. Streisand entered into private negotiations with the IRS and resolved the matter quietly.”
Supporting Hillary Clinton & Barack Obama in 2007-08
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.
Supporting the Iran Nuclear Deal
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.
In March 2020, Streisand condemned President Donald Trump for having pulled the U.S. out of the Iran accord. By Streisand’s telling, Trump had “put the security of this country, and our planet, in a precarious position by abandoning the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal. He’s a one-man weapon of mass destruction.”
Supporting Hillary Clinton for President in 2015-16; Condemning “Sexism” Against Hillary
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 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.
Hatred for Donald Trump & His Policies
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 September 2016, Streisand blasted Trump in a lengthy op-ed in the Huffington Post. Some excerpts:
- “According to PolitiFact, Donald Trump’s statements are rated ‘false,’ ‘mostly false,’ and ‘pants on fire’ 71 percent of the time,” Streisand said. “In other words, the majority of the time that Trump speaks, he is not telling the truth. But do the facts matter to Donald Trump or many in the media who are too entertained to correct his lies?”
- “When Trump throws around words like ‘crooked,’ he’s really describing himself and he doesn’t even know it. In psychological terms, it’s called ‘the disowned self.’ Psychiatrists have explained how a person who refuses to recognize his own flaws will often project them onto other people.”
- “What has Donald Trump ever done to serve others? He only cares about promoting himself. While Trump was being investigated and then sued by the Department of Justice for refusing to rent apartments to black and Hispanic people… Hillary was in Texas helping to register black and Hispanic voters.”
- “One in five of his supporters believe slavery should never have been abolished and 61 percent believe President Obama wasn’t born in the United States.”
- “And Trump says Hillary doesn’t look presidential. What does that mean… coming from a guy who looks like a raccoon in a tanning bed… with a flying squirrel on his head? That’s what a president is supposed to look like? A wrestler who dies his hair blonde?”
- “We cannot allow America to fall into the hands of a narcissist who has shown no regard for anyone but himself… a bigoted and misogynist reality-TV character with no political experience and no qualms about lying loudly and often. There is no equivalency between these two candidates. Only Hillary Clinton has the skills, the knowledge, the temperament and the compassion to lead this nation.”
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 $.”
In February 2020, Streisand tweeted: “Trump is directly responsible for the hate and discrimination that is growing in this country. And for our children — This is heartbreaking!” Her tweet was in response to a recent Washington Post report about alleged incidents of young children saying things like “build the wall” and “go back to where you came from” to their nonwhite peers. But the Post article provided no statistical evidence whatsoever to back up the claim that such incidents were in fact becoming more common.
In February 2020 as well, Streisand was angered when President Trump, during his address at the National Prayer Breakfast, said of congressional Democrats who self-identified as people of faith: “They love people and sometimes they hate people. I’m sorry. I apologize. I’m trying to learn. … It’s not easy. When they impeach you for nothing and then you’re supposed to like them, it’s not easy folks, I do my best.” Streisand tweeted in response: “It would’ve been so nice to hear President Trump bring people together in bi-partisan fashion at the prayer breakfast. You know, let’s let bygones be bygones and work together to put through infrastructure, healthcare. But no, his insults and vindictiveness always shines through.”
Claiming to Be a Victim of Misogyny
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.”
Streisand’s Political Donations
Over the past several decades, Streisand has given a great deal of money to the campaigns of numerous political candidates, all Democrats. The donees include such notables as Neil Abercrombie, Pete Aguilar, Tammy Baldwin, Karen Bass, Cory Booker, Barbara Boxer, Sherrod Brown, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, Tammy Duckworth, Richard Durbin, Donna Edwards, John Edwards, Lane Evans, Sam Farr, Russ Feingold, Dianne Feinstein, Al Franken, Kirsten Gillibrand, Al Gore, Tom Harkin, Maurice Hinchey, Mazie Hirono, Mike Honda, Tim Kaine, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Patrick Leahy, John Lewis, Ted Lieu, Ben Ray Lujan, Jim McGovern, Cynthia McKinney, Patty Murray, Barack Obama, Beto O’Rourke, Nancy Pelosi, Chellie Pingree, Raul Ruiz, Ken Salazar, Bernie Sanders, Jan Schakowsky, Adam Schiff, Al Sharpton, Hilda Solis, Tom Udall, Elizabeth Warren, and Diane Watson. She also has made contributions to EMILY’S List, the Moveon.org Voter Fund, Progressive Democrats of America, and Progressive Majority.