Barbra Streisand revealed that Marlon Brando came onto her three times, including when they were both married to other people.
She shot to international superstardom in the 1960s, the decade after he became Hollywood’s heartthrob to end all heartthrobs.
But the first time he approached her, sneaking up behind her at a party and kissing her back, she wheeled around and said: ‘You’re destroying my fantasy.’
The second time, his pickup line was: ‘I’d like to f*** you,’ leaving the ‘nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn’ so flabbergasted she blurted out: ‘That sounds awful.’
Now, in her new memoir My Name Is Barbra, she recalls how their awkward first encounters eventually blossomed into a deep, enduring bond.
Yet faced with his dogged attempts to get her into bed, did Barbra ever give in?
The first time he contacted Barbra was through a go-between, who informed her: ‘Marlon Brando told me: “If you ever see Barbra Streisand, tell that b**** she’s great.’
At that point, he was a top movie star and she was still a rising singer, one who had appeared on television but was a far cry from the celebrity she eventually attained.
By the time they met in 1965, however, she was the toast of Broadway in Funny Girl – and had also recorded People, which was such a smash hit record that it swiped the top spot on the charts from The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night.
Barbra, newly 23 years old, was backstage at a civil rights benefit were she was due to sing when, Marlon, then 41, made his move.
She regarded him as ‘the most gorgeous, the most brilliant, the most talented human being on earth’ – but Barbra, raised by a sexually conservative mother who taught her she could ‘get a disease’ just from holding hands with a boy, was utterly unprepared for the way he first tried to charm her.
Decked out in an ‘almost backless’ gown, she unexpectedly ‘felt someone kissing my back. Who would dare do that? I turned around and it was him. My idol.’
‘You’re destroying my fantasy,’ she said, but Marlon, unperturbed, set her heart aflutter with his reply: ‘You can’t have a back like that and not have it kissed.’
Barbra was so discombobulated by the time she went onstage that she stopped in the middle of the song when she got distracted by a backstage noise, then started the number all over again.
‘As a professional, you learn to just carry on,’ she wrote. ‘But I was so stunned by is presence that I wanted the song to be perfect, just for him.’
They met again a year later at a star-studded London party, held at the home of Leslie Caron, the French leading lady of Gigi.
When Barbra met Marlon there, she was once again so wowed by his magnetism that in lieu of a ‘charming’ icebreaker she said: ‘Did you get your teeth capped?’
Marlon was not embarrassed by her candor, but she was, so she wandered off with her tail between her legs and made listless conversation with the other guests – until he sidled up to her, took her her hand, and winningly said: ‘You look bored.’
They drifted into a private room and launched into four hours of intense personal conversation, excavating the pain of their turbulent childhoods.
At hour three, though, he suddenly said: ‘I’d like to f*** you,’ and she was so startled that she gave him the unfiltered reply: ‘That sounds awful.’
On top of the bluntness of his approach, his attempt at seduction was complicated by the fact that both he and Barbra were married to other people.
Barbra was at that point still with her first husband Elliott Gould, whom she had started dating when they were both up-and-coming stage actors working on an ill-fated Broadway musical called I Can Get It For You Wholesale.
Marlon meanwhile was on his third wife Tarita, a drastically younger French Polynesian actress he compared to a ‘ripe piece of fruit.’
But that night at Leslie Caron’s party, he kept putting the moves on Barbra, telling her se was unlikely to remain with Elliott ‘much longer’ on the grounds that he was ‘not good-looking enough for you.’
Although Barbra was initially ‘offended’ by the remark, she thought with hindsight years later that Marlon had actually made a rather ‘insightful’ point. ‘Did he know more about my search for beauty, at that point, than I did?’ she wondered.
By the time he made another pass at her in 1972, Barbra and Marlon were both divorced and his world-famous sex appeal had begun to dissipate.
Out of the blue, he called her up and invited her to ‘sleep under the stars’ with him during an overnight trip to the California desert.
Barbra, who was still ‘too insecure sexually’ to acquiesce, agreed only to go on a day trip with him – a decision she now reacts to by thinking: ‘How stupid!’
At the time, though: ‘Free love was not my style. Besides, how do you brush your teeth in the desert? Do I sleep with my makeup on?’
Though he was once again unable to know Barbra in the biblical sense, the pair of them did cultivate a friendship of touching depth.
They bonded over their shared artistry, their mutual understanding of the travails of fame and their willingness to speak freely about their personal anguish.
Marlon at one point called Barbra and said: ‘Sing me a song,’ a request she bridled at, arguing: ‘That’s like me asking you to recite a soliloquy from Hamlet.’
So he recited a soliloquy from Hamlet and said: ‘Now it’s your turn,’ leaving Barbra to croon the Rodgers & Hart ballad Nobody’s Heart Belongs To Me – a number she first sang in her club act in the 1960s before she was famous.
‘Thinking about it now, I was using the song to tell him what was going on in my life, even though that was unconscious,’ Barbra wrote.
Although she told him the secrets of her love life via music, she did not go so far even at that point as to actually strike up a romance with him.
Yet their personal bond lingered into his old age and his grisly decline, when his various demons had visibly begun to catch up with him.
One night he went to dinner at Barbra’s house and had gotten so fat that he was unable to wrench himself out from behind his steering wheel without her help.
They never did make it to bed together before Marlon died in 2004 at the age of 80 – with Barbra among the star-studded guest list at his funeral.
His failure to conquer Barbra was a source of lasting regret, on the basis of a rueful phone call she still counts as one of her ‘fondest memories.’
After watching her in The Way We Were on TV, he rang her up and said: ‘In the last moment, you were so vulnerable that I fell in love with you all over again.’
He reflected: ‘We should have done more when we were younger, f***ed a lot, had children. Go kiss yourself in the mirror for me.’