ByKen Anderson, writer at Creators.co
Ken Anderson

On Monday's historic episode of The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon which saw special guest Barbra Streisand returning to late night television after more than fifty years, the giggly host showed Streisand a photograph from her last Tonight Show appearance, circa 1963 (below). But when Streisand asked who the other guest in the photograph was, Fallon was unable to supply the identity. After five decades, Streisand certainly shouldn't be expected to remember, and 39-year-old Fallon (born a full eleven years after the pic was taken) would have to be some kind of a classic movie geek to identify - something his startlingly trim waistline obviously disqualifies him for. But what of The Tonight Show staff? No one could bother to look up what it took me less than three minutes of Googling to find out?

Photo courtesy of The Barbra Streisand Archives
Photo courtesy of The Barbra Streisand Archives

For those who care about such things, the photo above is from an episode of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, air date: February 1, 1963. This marked the sixth of eight appearances on The Tonight Show for Streisand (her last being March 5, 1963). Behind the desk is host Johnny Carson, then only a little over a year into the job he would occupy for thirty years. The laughing guest sitting between a very young Ed McMahon and baby-faced Streisand, the one no one could identify, is character actor and comic, Mickey Shaunessy. Not a particularly well-known actor, but familiar from the films Jailhouse Rock, From Here to Eternity, and and the Lauren Bacall/Gregory Peck comedy, Designing Woman. Minor mystery solved!

As for the rest of the 60 minute program, which marked my very first time seeing The Tonight Show since Jimmy Fallon took over the reins from Jay Leno, things started out promisingly with a cute duet between Streisand and Fallon, wherein the iconic actress, director, and singer (who was there to plug the release of her new CD of duets, Partners) sang a medley of standards with Fallon impersonating Elvis, Blake Shelton, and Michael Buble.

Watch video of the Streisand/Fallon duet HERE.

Unfortunately, following this, I was treated to the understandably over-excited Fallon (who seems like a very nice guy) gush and try out more of his impersonation shtick (Barry Gibb made an appearance) on a Streisand who found it difficult to get a word in edgewise or finish a sentence. Fandom got the best of Jimmy Fallon, the interviewer, and he largely came across as one of those excitable puppies who won't allow a visiting guest relax. Streisand threw out brief bits of info regarding her legendary stage fright, diva reputation, and a heretofore unknown to me fact that one-time talk show big-wig Jack Paar didn't like her, but the full-of-praise Fallon failed to ask follow-up questions or allow Streisand much of a chance to do much beyond serve as an audience to his oft-repeated tributes. Over the course of the evening, we learned a lot about what the night meant to Jimmy Fallon, not so much about Streisand and what she's been up to.

Barbra Streisand Courtesy of NBC
Barbra Streisand Courtesy of NBC

For her part, Streisand was more relaxed than usual and appeared to be a good sport about it all. Happily, before the show ended Barbra Streisand did get to sing again, this time without Fallon's "help."


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