Barbra Streisand was madly in love with Don Johnson and expected to marry him. When he two-timed her with his previous wife, she vowed she would never speak to him again and never has
Everyone who was anyone was at the red-carpet premiere at Hollywood's Graumann's Chinese Theatre one night last September and crowds craned forwards to watch the stars arrive.
Barbra Streisand, looking unbelievably glamorous at 70, and on the arm of husband James Brolin, paused to smile briefly at a suntanned couple just in front of them on the red carpet. Ex Miami Vice star Don Johnson and his wife Kelly Phlege, smiled back and hurried to their seats. They didn't speak and there were plenty of Hollywood observers with long memories who knew why. They remembered that 25 years earlier Barbra Streisand was madly in love with Don Johnson and expected to marry him.
When he two-timed her with his previous wife, she vowed she would never speak to him again and never has. As a long-time friend said recently: "Of all her men before James, Barbra probably loved Don the most, but she only lets a guy hurt her once..."
It was just after Christmas 1987 that Barbra, 45 and the biggest multi-media star of her generation and alone after a series of disastrous love-affairs, met 37-year-old Don Johnson, star of the TV hit crime series Miami Vice, at a party given by Robert Redford.
Johnson, relaxed, charming and confident, took the superstar by the arm and whisked her to a secluded table where they were soon deep in conversation. The couple soon found they had a lot in common. Both were perfectionists who insisted on being in charge. Despite their reputation for high-living, they both yearned for domesticity and family life. Both suffered from the effects of a traumatic childhood. And both were looking for love.
Soon they were being seen in Hollywood night-spots and exclusive restaurants. When Johnson bought a $1 million home in Beverly Hills, Barbra supervised its decoration. When she celebrated her 46th birthday, Johnson gave her a $25,000 Arab horse. Barbra was obviously smitten by her new love. "I am so happy," she said. "And as I have never been very happy before, it's something I have to learn. It's like being a child all over again."
By the spring of 1988 the couple were inseparable and Hollywood gossip writers were predicting a summer wedding.
When Streisand decided to finance and direct the $40 million movie The Prince of Tides, she insisted that Johnson played the male lead. She was later overruled in favour of Robert Redford and finally Nick Nolte.
She told Johnson: "You would have been the best but people still think of you as a TV cop. I promise that when I make another movie you will be the star..."
To the Hollywood gossips the marriage of Barbra Streisand and Don Johnson was now just a matter of time — a view encouraged by Johnson.
He told a reporter: "I always have in the back of my mind that eventually I am going to be married again." And he added: "And I've been encouraged of late..."
Naturally everyone assumed that he was talking about Streisand. No one dreamed of the bombshell that Don Johnson was about to explode on the Hollywood movie community. Far away in Chicago, Don's ex-wife, actress Melanie Griffith, had checked into an alcoholism rehabilitation centre in May and two months later, when she was released, it was Don, unknown to Barbra Streisand, who was waiting for her.
The spark that had died when the couple had been divorced three years earlier, was reignited. Although Don was still living with Barbra he began to have secret meetings with Melanie. Slowly, the two fell back in love.
When she found out, Barbra was devastated. A friend said: "She had absolutely no idea that Don was seeing Melanie. She wanted to marry him and was planning for their life together. Now everything turned to ashes."
A month later, as she was being hailed as a star in Mike Nichols' hit movie Working Girl, Melanie was given a four-carat diamond engagement ring by Don Johnson and Barbra Streisand spent Christmas alone.
The Johnsons remarried the following spring and Barbra threw herself into her work. She fell disastrously for tennis star Andre Agassi. "I'm the girl in the movie who doesn't get the guy at fade-out" she said.
Today, shrewd investments have made her worth at least $50 million. And her 16-year-old marriage to James Brolin has survived its ups and downs and is now, according to friends, tranquil and happy.
Says one close pal: "The way Barbra deals with sadness and disappointment is to dismiss them from her mind for good. So far as she is concerned, Don Johnson and the heartbreak he caused, has never even existed..."