Trudeau was Canada's prime minister at the time, and is the father of current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
While Barbra Streisand and former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had what appeared to be a fairy tale romance in the late-1960s (one documented by tabloids and paparazzi at the time), the singer and actress admits it was not meant to be — largely due to the 23-year age difference between the two.
In her long-awaited memoir My Name Is Barbra, published on Tuesday, Streisand shares details of their courtship, writing that she first met Trudeau in 1968 at the premiere for her film Funny Girl. But as she recounts in her book, she was already familiar with the newly elected prime minister, having read a magazine article about him months prior. At the time, Streisand writes, she had even remarked to a friend, "That's the kind of man I would like to date."
When she met him in person, Streisand found Trudeau to be nothing short of charming. "Trudeau was very dapper, intelligent, intense ... kind of a combination of Albert Einstein and Napoleon (only taller). And he was doing important work. I was dazzled," she writes.
But it would be months before the two reconnected, with Trudeau ultimately flying to New York while Streisand filmed The Owl and the Pussycat in 1969.
She recalls that Trudeau was more worldly than other men she had dated, and she found herself captivated.
"He was so elegant, yet totally unpretentious and perpetually curious ... an adventurer who had backpacked through the Middle East and Asia as a young man," Streisand writes. "And he had real charisma, generating so much excitement before and after his election that the Canadian press gave it a name ... Trudeaumania."
Streisand said Trudeau "had a great smile and cheekbones that could have been carved in marble."
"And it was nice to be with a man who had his own light shining on him, so I could stay in the shadows a bit," she adds.
Eventually, Streisand traveled to Canada to see Trudeau on his home turf, writing about how she attended a session of Parliament during which a member of the opposition party announced, “I should like to ask a question of the prime minister — if he can take his eyes and mind off the visitors’ gallery long enough to answer it.”
"That provoked a burst of laughter from the room, and Pierre blushed. I blushed, too, and laughed at the same time," Streisand writes.
Much of the attraction, she says, came from the fact that she found Trudeau to be intelligent.
"I’ve always loved being with people who can teach me something," she writes, adding that Trudeau reformed Canada’s laws on abortion and strengthened gun control. She describes him as "a strategic thinker who understood that we’re all connected."
But Streisand soon found herself "a bit scared of the intensity of this relationship." Trudeau was 50, while she was 27 — with a child and recently out of a marriage — and reality caught up with the once-dreamy fling.
So Streisand traveled back to America, settling in Los Angeles as a means of putting more distance between the two.
"He was a captivating combination of contradictions ... an elegant man who was still enough of a free spirit to wear sandals to Parliament," Streisand writes.
She continues. "But for me, there was something missing. My brain was in love, but not my body."
The two remained in touch for more than 30 years, though, with Streisand writing that Trudeau reached out to her when he purchased a historic Art Deco house (similar to the style she favored) in Montreal, and later, when he escorted her to a United Jewish Appeal gala in her honor in 1983.
In 1994, they reconnected once more, when she invited him to an Elie Wiesel Foundation dinner honoring Hillary Clinton.
In 2000, when Streisand learned her old paramour had fallen ill, she wrote to him expressing how much he meant to her.
"When he died later that year, the world lost a great leader ... and I lost a great friend," she says.
His legacy lived on, of course, in his son Justin Trudeau — Canada's current prime minister — who agreed to show Streisand his late father's house, which the elder Trudeau spent years restoring to its original condition.
"I felt sad and happy at the same time, because it was very moving to be there with his son," she writes, later adding: "He’s kind, he’s compassionate, and he cares more about the people than the corporations. Pierre would have been so proud of him."
Celebrate Barbra Streisand's incredible career with the new PEOPLE Special Edition Barbra Streisand, available on newsstands and Amazon.com.
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