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VIDEO: Remembering Composer Michael Leonard's THE YEARLING With Three Barbra Streisand Recordings

VIDEO: Remembering Composer Michael Leonard's THE YEARLING With Three Barbra Streisand Recordings

In the 1960s it wasn't unusual for the nation's most popular recording artists to release selections from upcoming Broadway shows, helping to move along box office sales with a hit song.

Composer Michael Leonard and lyricist Herbert Martin must have thought they struck gold when the hottest singer in the country, Barbra Streisand, agreed to record three songs from THE YEARLING, their adaptation of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' novel about a young farmboy who deals with life's tragedies by caring for a fawn.

The cheery "I'm All Smiles" was included in her 1964 "People" album, and the lovely ballad, "Why Did I Choose You?," was not only sung on her 1965 Emmy-winning television special, "My Name Is Barbra," but it was one of the singles from the studio album released in conjunction with the show. The heartfelt "The Kind of Man a Woman Needs" graced the album, "My Name is Barbra, Two."

With that kind of build-up you would think THE YEARLING would at least have a nice advance sale, but despite the presence of fine performers like David Wayne and Carmen Alvarez, the show closed the day after its December 10th, 1965 opening, logging in just three performances.

Yesterday's New York Times published an obituary for Leonard, who died of cardiac arrest on October 31st. He was 84 years old.

While THE YEARLING will go down in the books as one of Broadway's failures, the often-recorded and performed "Why Did I Choose You?," is regarded as an American Songbook standard.

Barbra Streisand is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and filmmaker. During a career spanning six decades, she has become an icon in multiple fields of entertainment, winning numerous awards, which has earned her recognition as Mother of All Contemporary Pop Divas or Queen of The Divas. She has been recognized with two Academy Awards, ten GRAMMY AWARDS including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Grammy Legend Award, five Emmy Awards including one Daytime Emmy, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Instituteaward, a Kennedy Center Honors prize, four Peabody Awards, and eleven Golden Globes. She is among a select group of entertainers who have been honored with all the major industry prizes.

Streisand is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with more than 72.5 million albums in the United States and with a total of 245 million records sold worldwide, making her the best-selling female artist among the top-selling artists recognized by the Recording Industry Association of America. (The only female in the top ten, and the only artist outside of the rock 'n' roll genre.)

After beginning a successful recording career in the 1960s, Streisand ventured into film by the end of the decade. She starred in the critically acclaimed Funny Girl, for which she won the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. Her other films include The Owl and the Pussycat, The Way We Were, and A Star Is Born, for which she received her second Academy Award, composing music for the love theme "Evergreen", the first woman to be honored as a composer. With the release of Yentl in 1983, Streisand became the first woman to write, produce, direct, and star in a major studio film. The film won an Oscar for Best Score and Best Motion Picture Musical; Streisand received the Golden Globe Award for Best Director, the first (and to date only) woman to win that award.

The RIAA and Billboard recognize Streisand as holding the record for the most top-ten albums of any female recording artist: a total of 33 since 1963. Streisand is the only recording artist to have a number-one album in each of the last six decades, having released 53 Gold albums, 31 Platinum albums, and 14 Multi-Platinum albums in the United States.

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From This Author Michael Dale

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