Elliott Gould Said Being Married to Barbra Streisand Was Like a "Bath of Lava"

The couple met during a Broadway audition in the early ‘60s. 

Elliott Gould, Barbra Streisand
Elliott Gould, Barbra Streisand. Photo: Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Who: Oscar-nominated actor Elliott Gould, 82, and Oscar and Grammy-winning actress and singer Barbra Streisand, 79.

How They Met: Streisand caught Gould's eye when she auditioned for the 1962 Broadway production of I Can Get It for You Wholesale, in which Gould had already been cast as the lead.

"After her last audition, they say, 'Thank you.' She then was very flummoxed as to being right there and not knowing what was going to happen next, and so she announced her phone number and said, 'So would somebody call me,'" Gould recalled during an interview with CBS Sunday Morning. "I remembered her number and I called her."

TBT Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould
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Streisand invited Gould to come see her sing, but he insisted that she'd be cast in the play and they'd reconnect then. He was right.

They wed the following year. In 1966 they welcomed their first and only child together, son Jason Gould.

Why We Loved Them: When Gould and Streisand met, they were hardly household names. Both stars ascended quickly in the ensuing years (though one undeniably quicker than the other — Gould was saddled with the nickname "Mr. Streisand" by the press). Together, they were '60s glamor personified:

TBT Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould
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TBT Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould
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However, "glamor" wasn't always a word we'd use to describe the couple's lifestyle. In her 2010 interior design book, My Passion for Design, Streisand described sleeping in a single bed with Gould in the tiny 1-bedroom apartment they shared early in their relationship (Gould is 6'3", for the record). There was reportedly a third roommate sharing the space as well: a rat named Gonzola. Still, Gould later told Playboy that his fondest memories of Streisand are from these days, "when we were living together before we were married."

When They Peaked: We'd take an opening night piglet over a perfunctory "break a leg" any day.

TBT Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould
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The Breakup: The couple separated in 1969 and formalized their divorce two years later, in 1971.

Streisand's fame and ambition contributed to tension in the marriage. Gould told The Independent that "it was difficult to be married to someone who was married to their success," adding that he and Streisand "went as far as we could together."

In a 1970 Time Magazine profile of Gould, Streisand admitted that she "wasn't considerate enough" of her estranged husband's problems while they were together. "It must have been very difficult for him," she reflected. "Marriages between people who are self-involved [are] hard. It's safer for actors not to be married to one another."

TBT Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould
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Gould had a different, more visceral take: "Marriage to Barbra was a fantastic experience," he said. "It had a lot of chocolate souffle and things like that, but it was also like a bath of lava."

Volcanic activity aside, Gould and Streisand remained (mostly) civil in the years following their split. "Once you have loved someone, they become part of what you were and therefore part of what you are," Streisand told The New York Times in regard to her relationship with Gould.

Decades (and decades) later, Gould told CBS Sunday Morning precisely why he and Streisand's marriage came to an end.

TBT Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould
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"We didn't grow together, and the reason for that was because she became more important than us," he explained, recounting a recent conversation he'd had with his ex. "Then I also said to her, 'We did great. We made it very fast and nobody has what we have. There's you and me and our kid.'"

He expanded on the split in a 2020 interview with The Guardian. "I couldn't play the part," he said. "I had to be able to find myself, to be able to be myself. I couldn't let myself live in a mold."

Just after the split, Gould's film A Glimpse of Tiger fell apart due to the actor's rumored outbursts on set. The project was retooled, renamed (What's Up, Doc?), and recast with Streisand taking on the role originally meant for Gould.

TBT Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould
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"That makes good sense to me," Gould told The New York Times of her casting. "At least she made some money out of it."

Where They Are Now:

Gould went on to marry actress Jennifer Bogart — twice. They shared a brief two-year marriage beginning in 1973 and re-tied the knot in 1978. They welcomed two children, Samuel and Molly, during their years together before splitting for good in 1989.

The MASH star's career has slowed in recent years, but he still pops up in projects here and there (hello, Friends reunion!).

Streisand wed actor James Brolin in 1998 and they've been together ever since.

The celebrated multi-hyphenate's latest compilation album, Release Me 2, will be available Aug. 6.

#TBT: Check in every Thursday as we throw it back to some of our favorite celebrity couples of all time.

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