'It Just Slipped Out': Barbra Streisand Recalls Greeting JFK With Unorthodox Compliment

The singer was only 20 years old when she was invited to sing at the 1963 White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Barbra Streisand still remembers what she called President John F. Kennedy.

The president had reportedly seen Streisand on The Dinah Shore Chevy Show and, dazzled by the young talent, invited her to sing at the 1963 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Streisand was only 20 years old at the time — and broke some cardinal rules.

“You must know by now that I can be remarkably blasé about a lot of things, but this was exciting, even for me,” wrote Streisand in her new memoir, “My Name Is Barbra,” an excerpt of which was obtained by People.

Streisand designed her own gown for the evening and performed three songs, including Happy Days Are Here Again, before being lined up to meet Kennedy. She and the rest of the performers were specifically asked, however, not to request an autograph.

“When JFK got to me, he told me that I had a beautiful voice and asked, ‘How long have you been singing?’” Streisand wrote in her memoir, per People. “I said, ‘About as long as you’ve been president.’ He laughed, and then I did exactly what we were told not to do.”

The singer had already charmed Kennedy with her humour and, realising it would likely be her only chance, handed him a card from her dinner table. Streisand cast all White House etiquette aside and asked Kennedy to sign it — noting her mother would be overjoyed.

The president graciously agreed, only for Streisand to exclaim: “You’re a doll.”

“I guess some people were a little surprised to hear me saying it to the president,” she wrote in her memoir. “Frankly, it just slipped out.”

Streisand lost Kennedy's signature by the time she got home on May 24, 1963.
Streisand lost Kennedy's signature by the time she got home on May 24, 1963.
National Archives/Newsmakers/Getty Images

Streisand previously joked about that moment on Instagram, but has only now revealed that she lost Kennedy’s signature by the time she got home. She unfortunately never had another chance as Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, six months later.

Streisand still stands by her compliment and reportedly noted in her book that Kennedy really did resemble a doll that everyone was enamoured by. The singer herself, meanwhile, was awarded with the Kennedy Center Honors in 2008 for her contributions to the arts.

With five Emmys and Golden Globes, 10 Grammys, three Peabody Awards and two Oscars, Streisand has certainly curated quite a career. The singer has since shared countless intriguing stories in her memoir — such as being courted by Marlon Brando.

My Name Is Barbra hit shelves and digital bookstores November 7.


What's Hot