In Streisand's new memoir, "My Name Is Barbra," the legendary entertainer says she abandoned the rules of etiquette when she met President Kennedy at the White House Correspondents' Dinner
Barbra Streisand still remembers one of her earliest brushes with stardom, when the young singer met President John F. Kennedy at the 1963 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner — and broke a few rules of etiquette in the process.
Reflecting on the memorable encounter in her new memoir, My Name Is Barbra, Streisand explains that Kennedy asked for her to sing at the prestigious event after seeing her on The Dinah Shore Chevy Show just days earlier. "You must know by now that I can be remarkably blasé about a lot of things, but this was exciting, even for me," she writes.
Wearing clothing of her own design — a gray, Empire-style gown that parted down the center to reveal a cream sheath underneath — Streisand, then 21, performed three songs. She concluded with "Happy Days Are Here Again," saying that she really felt joy having JFK in the White House, and her performance reflected it.
Following the dinner, performers lined up to meet Kennedy, reminded by a protocol team that they were to greet him quickly and move along without asking for autographs.
She continues: "When JFK got to me, he told me that I had a beautiful voice and asked, 'How long have you been singing?' I said, 'About as long as you've been president.' He laughed, and then I did exactly what we were told not to do."
Streisand pulled out a card from the dinner and asked JFK to sign it for her mother, which he did, and when he returned it, she said, "You're a doll."
"I guess some people were a little surprised to hear me saying it to the president," she writes. "Frankly, it just slipped out."
Looking back 60 years later, Streisand stands by her quick compliment to the president, explaining that in her eyes, he really was a doll with a glow that captured people's affection.
As for the card he graciously autographed, she says she'd lost it by the time she arrived home.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
The White House Correspondents' Dinner on May 24, 1963, would be President Kennedy's last. Six months later, on Nov. 22, he was assassinated while campaigning for reelection in Dallas, Texas, leaving the world shocked by the sudden loss of the nation's youngest elected president.
Decades later, in 2008, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts awarded Streisand with the Kennedy Center Honors. At the time, Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman stated: "Barbra Streisand's trailblazing career in music, theater, films, and television is one of the most thrilling spectacles of our culture."
She received the award at the White House from then-President George W. Bush.
Celebrate Barbra Streisand's incredible career with the new PEOPLE Special Edition Barbra Streisand, available on newsstands and Amazon.com.
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.