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Up she went to the Maiden Bridge Playhouse near Albany for a summer of the real thingwashing out toilets, changing scenery, riding a goat manque across the stage in Teahouse of the August Moon. Back home, she ushered in Broadway theaters during Saturday matinee and evening performances. About then, she decided that she only had six months to live. "You really appreciate life when you know you're going to die," she discloses. But before the last cough, she began making the rounds of actors' workshops, consulting the New York City telephone directories for a suitable pseudonym, and unquestionably finding a name in 8,000,-000Angelina Scarangella.
That was only a shield to keep the name Barbara Streisand from getting bruised by uncouth hands. She had no desire to drop her own name"because I wanted all the people I knew when I was younger to know it was me when I became a star." She hated her first name, though, and took an a out of it to shape it up. Today she likes to tell interviewers: "I don't care what you say about me. Just be sure you spell my name wrong."
Moving to Manhattan, she shared an apartment for a while, but then began lugging a portable cot around with her and mooching space where she couldin friends' apartments, public relations offices, studio lofts. She swept the floor at the Cherry Lane Theater and took acting lessons from Drama Coach Allan Miller and Eli Rill. She dyed her hair red, wore white makeup, and dressed in black tights, feathered boas and 1925 hats. Barbra has never striven to be inconspicuous.
Singing Actress. At this point, she had no interest in her innate comic abilities. "She was furious when the other students laughed," remembers Rill. "I kept telling her she had to develop what she had and not try to be somebody else. She would make it clear that my role was to make her into a tragic muse." She had no intention of becoming a singer either, but one day she heard about a remunerative amateur contest at a little Village binlet called The Lion. Learning A Sleepin' Bee, she sang it and resoundingly defeated a light-opera singer, another pop singer and a comedian. Almost at once she had a booking at the Bon Soir, the Copacabana of West Eighth Street. Barbra by then had developed an enduring fondness for other people's castaway clothes, particularly if the other people had cast them away at least 30 years before. These come cheap in Manhattan's thrift shops. When she first walked into the Bon Soir, she was wearing a $4 black dress, a $2 Persian vest, and old white satin 500 shoes with large silver buckles.