“I have more talent in my smallest fart than you have in your entire body.”
- Walter Matthau to Barbara Streisand
Both Matthau and Streisand starred in the lavish 1969 musical Hello, Dolly!
Matthau had recently won an Oscar for The Fortune Cookie. Streisand was a lot younger than Matthau and had not yet made a name for herself. Funny Girl was yet to be released, although filmed. Matthau objected to Streisand’s demands and her telling director Gene Kelly how the movie should be directed and refused to go near Streisand unless necessary for filming a scene. They bickered constantly Matthau telling her what is quoted above and, on another occasion, that she had “no more talent than a butterfly’s fart”. Streisand presented Matthau with a bar of soap for his "sewer-mouth". Ultimately Matthau complained to the studio head, Richard Zanuck, who gave him a reality check, saying “I'd love to help you but this is not Hello, Walter! we're making.’”
There have been contrary reports that the villain was Matthau’s bruised ego, not Streisand’s inflated one.
Whatever the truth, years later, he was an invitation-only guest at her One Voice concert to start up the charitable Streisand Foundation, paying $5,000 for the privilege.
Walter Matthau (1920-2000) was born Walter John Matthow and served as a B-24 radioman-gunner in the same Group as James Stewart. His big break came when cast as Oscar in the film The Odd Couple in 1965. The next year he won his Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for The Fortune Cookie. Hello, Dolly! was made in 1969. He will also be especially remembered for his role in Grumpy Old Men and its sequel Grumpier Old Men. Matthau died of a heart attack at age 79.
Barbra Joan Streisand (1942 - ), was born Barbara but later changed it to Barbra. She is one of the most commercially and critically successful entertainers in modern entertainment history, being the best selling female artist on the RIAA list, the only female artist in the Top Ten and the only artist outside the rock and roll genre. Streisand won an Oscar for the 1968 film Funny Girl. Her career is too lengthy to detail but she has made the role of Roz Focker her own and her most recent film, the road movie The Guilt Trip, is currently showing. She was married to Elliot Gould 1963-1971 and is now married to actor James Brolin.