The Bon Soir, 40 West 8 St.
Then and Now
Barbra performed some of her most important singing engagements between 1960 and 1962
at a night club called The Bon Soir. For all intents and purposes, it
can be said that Barbra, the singer, was discovered at this small basement club in
Greenwich Village, just around the corner from where she was living at
According to Barbra,
Julie Styne first saw her at the Bon Soir and later came back with
producer Ray Stark. Stark liked what he heard and eventually signed
Barbra to star in her own Broadway show. That show was "Funny Girl."
And it was during her time at The Bon Soir when Barbra hooked up with
her long-time manager, Marty Erlichman.
For the cover of her first studio recording with Columbia, a photo of Barbra
performing at The
Bon Soir was fittingly chosen.
The Album that Never Was
In the fall of 1962, Columbia Records
recorded several of Barbra's performance sets at The Bon Soir
that were earmarked for her first album. Columbia ultimately
decided, however, that Barbra's first album demanded nothing
less that the
professional environment of a studio, a good decision for a
debut album. A few of those Bon Soir recordings were later
released on Barbra's "Just for the Record" compilation.
Select Streisand Bon Soir
A Sleepin' Bee
Bewitched (Bothered And Bewildered)
Come To The Supermarket In Old Peking
Cry Me A River
Happy Days Are Here Again
(Have I Stayed) Too Long At The Fair?
I Had Myself A True Love
I Hate Music
Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now
Lover, Come Back To Me
My Honey's Lovin' Arms
My Name Is Barbara
Never Will I Marry
Right As The Rain
Soon It's Gonna Rain
When The Sun Comes Out
Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf?
icon Phyllis Diller died at her home in Los Angeles earlier today. She
Phyllis had a
legendary career that
spanned over seven
decades. She was a
major night club
actor in films, sought
personality, and big
On December 26, 1969,
Phyllis opened in
"Hello, Dolly!" on
Broadway, one week
film version premiered
up the street.
For those of us
who grew up with Phyllis Diller,
she'll always be our
funny lady of
television. A fixture on
TV screens throughout the 60s and 70s,
Phyllis was a guest on
countless variety and
talk shows. She
appeared 23 times with
Bob Hope on his specials.
In 1966, Phyllis and Bob Hope were a smash hit with American GIs
during their USO shows in South
On November 2, 2011, Phyllis made her final television appearance as
the hour-long guest on Rosie O'Donnell's talk show.
Of Phyllis' passing Barbra Streisand said, "I adored her. She was a wondrous
spirit who was great to me. Phyllis paved the way for all the female
comedians who followed
in her footsteps. The
public knew her as a
complainer. In fact,
she was a lovely,
smart and sensitive
woman. I will always
be grateful to her and
I will cherish her
The Bon Soir
Barbra Streisand's mentor ever since Barbra opened for her at the Bon
Soir in the early 60s.
The two have remained close friends ever since.
The Jack Paar Show
Barbra's first national
television appearance in
1961, Phyllis Diller was
booked as one of the other
guests. We don't know if
it was planned, but a very
nervous Barbra needed
someone warm and familiar
to sit next to her that
landmark evening. Phyllis
fulfilled the role
perfectly, even playing
"straight man" to Barbra's
clever one liners.
When Barbra sat down to be
interviewed by guest host
Orson Bean, Phyllis turned
Barbra and told her she
As if that wasn't
compliment enough, Phyllis went on
to tell the national
viewing audience, "I love
Barbra. This is one of the
great singing talents in
The AFI Tribute to Barbra
Phyllis Diller was one of
the many surprise guests
who participated in
Barbra's AFI Lifetime
Achievement gala in 2001.
Completely stunned, Barbra
could be seen mouthing the
words "Oh my God!" when
Phyllis took the stage.
Phyllis was in brilliant
comedic form that night.
She brought down the house
with hysterical anecdotes
about the early days when
Barbra was her opening act
at the Bon Soir.
Phyllis closed out her AFI
appearance by saying,
directly to Barbra, "I am
totally thrilled to be
your opening act."
The Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce St.
Then and Now
had early theatrical aspirations, so what better place to
seek employment than at a real live New York theatre. As a 15
year old, Barbra managed to get a job at the historic
Cherry Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village.
Barbra was an unbilled understudy
in the 1956 production of "Purple Dust" at the Cherry Lane but
never got onstage. Her real job, along with
an aspiring actor named Dustin Hoffman, was to clean-up
Unfortunately for young Barbra, she was never given an
opportunity to actually perform on the fabled stage of the Cherry Lane. She did, however, understudy
the part of Avrile in the 1956 production of
Sean O'Casey's "Purple Dust." She was not billed.
One of the lead actors in that production was
Robert Gerringer. In 1974, Gerringer would portray
Katie's writing professor in "The Way We Were."
The Lion, 62 West 9 St.
Then and Now
"The Gallery" in
|In 1960, Barbra
Streisand performed publicly for
the very first time at an intimate nightclub called "The Lion."
Like a scene out of a movie, Barbra's career took flight when she was
three week engagement by winning a talent contest.
"The Village" in
Barbra's time at The
Lion was significant. It helped
establish Barbra as a bone fide New York nightclub act. It was during
her time at "The Lion," according to Barbra's pal Barry
Dennen, when "Barbara first began her metamorphosis into Barbra"
by dropping the "A" from her name.
"The Lion" was located across the street from Barbra's apartment on
West 9th Street, so her commute to stardom was a breeze. During the
90s (above), "The Lion" was replaced by a trendy Village eatery.
If you visit, be sure to spend a few moments at the bar. It was within
the small confines of this front room where Barbra most likely
The Lion Roars Back
(May 15, 2010
The original "Lion" has
undergone several name changes and different owners throughout the
We're know of several different restaurants which have
occupied 62 West 9 Street over the years: "The Lion"
(1960), "The Gallery" (1969) and "The Village" (2003).
We're happy to report that the bistro is once again called "The Lion" despite the
fact that there is no sign out front to indicate the name.
Again as "The Lion" in 2010
The only thing
this new "Lion" has in common with "The Lion" that occupied the same
space years ago is its name. Still, if you can wrangle a reservation
(good luck), you'll be dining at the same place where Barbra won that
famous talent contest and got her very first paying gig as a singer
back in 1960.
According to one of the waiters, the restaurant's main dining room (in
back) was added on in 1972. Barbra presumably sang in the bar, which
you immediately enter from the street.
62 West 9 Street is part of the Greenwich Village
Historic District and enjoys landmark protection.
The Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Ave. S.
Then and Now
Sep 26, 2009, Barbra Streisand performed at The Village
Vanguard, a venerable jazz institution in the heart of Greenwich
Village. This was Barbra's second appearance at the
historic cabaret,. She first
auditioned at the Vanguard in 1961 in a one night public
appearance on the same bill with jazz great Miles Davis. Though
she didn't get a permanent job at the Vanguard, owner Max
Gordon soon hired Barbra to play at his other NYC venue, The Blue Angel on
the Upper East Side.
Much like The Bon Soir, The Village Vanguard is a very small
club located in a cellar. It has been in business since 1935.
Of her most recent Vanguard performance, Barbra
made good on her promise to 100 of, unquestionably, THE luckiest fans
in the world. Her much publicized show at The Village Vanguard was a
rousing success, attracting an enthusiastic audience that included
Lorraine Gordon, widow of Vanguard Founder Max Gordon, and Rick Edelstein, the Vanguard's waiter who actually was responsible for
arranging Barbra's original audition there in 1961. Barbra's song set
was inspired by her new CD, "Love Is The Answer."
After a 48 year absence, Barbra Streisand returned to the intimate
stage at The Village Vanguard.
occasion Streisand, who can sell out 20,000 seat arenas in mere
minutes, was center stage in a club that can comfortably seat, at
most, 123 patrons. Cozy
and intimate, yes. But Barbra's Village Vanguard gig was of monumental and
Barbra, According to Max and Lorraine
Not much is
known, and even less is documented about Barbra's particular one
night performance at The Village Vanguard in 1961.
late Max Gordon, owner of The Village
Vanguard, does confirm in his 1980 book "Live at The Village
Vanguard" (right) that Barbra did indeed perform in his club on the same
night as Miles Davis. Gordon goes on to say, however, that
Barbra was not accompanied by Miles Davis himself.
Lorraine Gordon's memoir, "Alive at
the Village Vanguard" (right) published in 2006 features her personal
photo with Barbra on the cover (left). Lorraine Gordon recalls Barbra's first
appearance at The Vanguard:
Barbra did sing at the Vanguard.
Without Miles. She'd been singing off and on in the Village at a
club on Eighth Street called the Bon Soir. Barbra was a shy one.
Nineteen years old. She wasn't a seasoned performer - she was
new. Max took a chance on her. In fact, Max was a very generous
man to Barbra early on, giving her new gigs. Eventually he
brought Barbra uptown to the Blue Angel. This would have been
July 1961. That's when I got to know her. We would sit together
between shows and talk.