Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Music History Monday: Everyone Should Have a Hobby!

On February 27, 2018 – five years ago today – Barbra Streisand (born 1942) revealed that she had cloned her dying dog Samantha (nicknamed “Sammie”) twice.  

(No jokes here about Ms. Streisand singing “Send in the Clones.”)

Streisand and Samantha in 2004, during happier times
Streisand and Samantha in 2004, during happier times

The revelation regarding the Samantha’s clones was made during an interview published in Variety five years ago today.  Samantha was a rare, curly haired Coton de Tuléar, a breed of small, white-haired dogs named for the city of Tuléar in the African island nation of Madagascar.  According to Kristine Lacoste, in an article published on the website Petful entitled Five Things to Know About Coton de Tuléar:

“This breed is thought to have originated from a group of small white dogs that swam across the Malagasy channel following a shipwreck.”

When Streisand’s Samantha (or should we say “Samantha Streisand”?) lay on her deathbed (blanket?) in 2017, Babs realized that she:

“couldn’t bear to lose her.  I had to continue her DNA. There were no more curly-haired Cotons like Samantha — she was very rare. In order to get another I had to clone her.”

In an article published in The New York Times on March 2, 2018, Barbra Streisand explained her decision to clone her pup and the process that followed:

“I was so devastated by the loss of my dear Samantha, after 14 years together, that I just wanted to keep her with me in some way. It was easier to let Sammie go if I knew I could keep some part of her alive, something that came from her DNA. A friend had cloned his beloved dog, and I was very impressed with that dog. So Sammie’s doctor took some cells from inside her cheek and the skin on her tummy just before she died. And we sent those cells to ViaGen Pets in Texas. We weren’t even sure if the cells would take.

And then I got a call from the lab. Not only did the cloning process take, but it produced four puppies! Unfortunately, the runt of the litter died before the puppies were old enough to be delivered to me.  And then the 13-year-old daughter of my A&R man bonded with one of the clones, so I gave them that puppy.”

That left Streisand with two clones, which she named Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett. (Frankly, from a literary point of view, Miss Melanie and Miss Scarlett would have been more appropriate but, as per usual, no one asked me).

The clones, Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett, at the grave of their – what? – mother? Sister? Genetic Master Mark I?
The clones, Miss Violet and Miss Scarlett, at the grave of their – what? – mother? Sister? Genetic Master Mark I?

Having so successfully replicated her beloved Samantha, one wonders if Ms. Streisand has been bit by the “clone bug” and has since been duplicating other living things, making “cloning” a hobby of sorts.   She certainly has the money (the multiple dog clones probably cost her in the neighborhood 100 large [that’s $100,000]). 

For example, her husband, the Golden Globe and Emmy-winning American James Brolin (born 1940), will be 83 years old in July.   Brolin is apparently in great health, but c’mon, he’s no spring chicken.  We can only wonder whether he’d wake up in the middle of the night while Babs scrapes some cells from inside his cheek and from the skin of his tummy.


Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that Barbra Streisand herself my not number cloning among her many hobbies (she is a collector of art, furniture, decorative arts, and houses, for goodness sake), but for the sake of this post we will indeed call consider cloning her hobby.  And as such, we can’t help but wonder about the hobbies of other beloved musicians.

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