Barbara Goldbach

On August ,27 1947, Barbara Goldbach was born in the New York suburb of Queens, to a family with varied European origins (her Catholic mother was Irish, her Jewish father Austrian, and her Grandmother Rumanian). She attended an all-girls convent school on Long Island and is rumored to have attended Sarah Lawrence.

When she was 16, Goldbach left school to become a model. A year later she shortened her name to Bach and began on a highly successful career as a leading American model with the Eileen Ford Agency. She became the cover girl for Seventeen, which created top modeling assignments all over Europe for the American beauty.

In 1965, Bach attended The Beatles' famous Shea Stadium concert . However, she preferred the music of Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles; she was only there as a chaperone to her younger sister "…because she was a Beatle freak. I wasn't."

At the age of 18 she married Augusto Gregorini, an Italian businessman and producer. Bach moved with him to Rome where she soon adapted to a new way of living:

"He was 10 years older than me and he was from a wonderful family…Living in another country for 10 years, speaking their language, I almost had a completely different identity."

They had a daughter named Francesca in 1969 (she attended the famous Brown University and is now a songwriter). Bach and Gregorini had a son,Gianni, in 1973. In later years, Gianni suffered from Cerebral Palsy. His wealthy father paid for a corrective operation in America, at the time the best treatment money could buy.

It was Barbara Bach's move to Italy which led to an acting career:

"In Italy I was casually asked on the street if I would do something for television. One of those things they say happens, and it did. Franco Rossi, an Italian director saw me doing that and then asked me if I would do The Odyssey."

She had very little training, but succeeded due to her ability to pick things up quickly.

"I'd done plenty of TV commercials so I knew the difference between appearing in front of a still camera and one used for motion pictures. But the only kind of theatrical training I'd had was at an actor's studio at night for six months where I saw what they did briefly, but I was actually too busy working then to continue. I was again modeling when another director called me and said he's seen Franco Rossi's film and that physically I would be perfect for something he was doing. Fortunately two young Italians straight from the theater were in it and the director was also a drama teacher. I picked up so many things from those people."

Her first roles were in Italian B movies, but she eventually found herself with major parts in several international films such as "The Jaguar Lives" and "The Volcanic Island".

"I never felt I was a fantastic beauty and I did not want to be known as a sex symbol. I had different parts offered to me where I was to play attractive, sexy people, but I was not interested."

Barbara found herself shocked by the way women were treated in Italy and strongly believed that changes were due.

"In Italy they were way behind in divorce laws and abortion. They were new ideas and people were fighting for them - and losing - which was incredible. Even though I didn't vote in Italy, I believe that I physically helped the campaigners with my presence."

In 1975 Barbara split up with Augusto and moved back to America. There she found parts in professionally humiliating satires such as "Mad Magazine Presents 'Up The Academy' " in which she said, "I could have been a stuffed doll". She also took parts in minor chillers such as "The Island of the Fish Men", "The Humanoid" and a remake of "The Unseen" on the set of which she met her new love - cinematographer Roberto Quezada.

Bach also auditioned for a part in the TV series Charlie's Angels, but didn't realize what the part would entail and was by-passed for looking "too European and too sophisticated."

Said Bach of the experience:

"I'm afraid I didn't take them seriously enough when they asked questions like 'What brought you to Hollywood?'. I'd often wondered myself. Somehow I sensed that the problem was not whether I could act but whether I could be fluffy enough."

Two years after her return to the States she took one of those "attractive, sexy" roles that she had been avoiding - offered to her partly because of her high cheekbones and accent- and became a Bond girl by securing the lead role of Anya in the tenth James Bond movie, "The Spy Who Loved Me". Her part in the film led to the creation of an Anya doll (an action figure manufacturer made figures of certain Bond Girls).

Barbara Bach's role as Anya instantly catapulted her into stardom as an international sex symbol. She was also featured in a very famous issue of Playboy. Bach, however, would not be involved in other aspects of the industry:

"...I wanted to be able to do things that I was proud of, work with people that I admire. That's the kind of drive I had. I think we're all relatively ambitious in the sense that we enjoy this work."

In 1978 she found that type of role. She played a Yugoslav Partisan called Marizza in "Force Ten From Navarone" (which also starred Edward Fox and Robert Shaw). Said Bach, "This was a true story and Marizza was not attractive, wearing very little make-up [and a ] uniform."

In the late 1970s, Carl Gottlie started to work on a prehistoric comedy called "Caveman". He cast Bach in the part of Lana, promising her a "huge comedy actor" for a leading man. When this actor turned out to be Ringo Starr, her initial reaction was "we're in trouble." When shooting was finally ready to go ahead and she arrived at the airport in LA to meet the rest of the cast, Starr spotted her and instantly fell in love. But his already complicated love life stopped him from doing anything about it. He was already engaged to an American publicity agent (Nancy Andrews) and was in the process of getting back with his first wife, Maureen Starr, in England. During a party thrown the night before leaving LA to begin the location work for the film, it was obvious that Bach had feelings for him too. However, like Starr, Bach was also involved in a relationship.

In Mexico, work began on a scene where Atouk - played by Ringo - had to seduce Lana in her sleep. It was very complicated to work out exactly what would take place, and Starr and Bach had to spend many hours together with the director planning the shooting for the next day. The following morning Ringo and Barbara returned to the set to film the scene and the script supervisor - taking note of the way they were glowing, holding hands and gazing into each others eyes - remarked to everyone "Look, they're in love".

"I was never that much of a Beatles fan, which made it easier. I just treated him like anyone else. As time went on, however, I was touched by his generosity. He is so patient and understanding. Let me give you an example. Ritchie can't swim, but there's a scene where he has to rescue me from a river. Carl said they could use a stunt man, but it'd be better if Ritchie jumped in. So he jumps. By the time he reaches me, he's headed for the bottom. And when we get to the rock I'm literally pushing him up."

 

On the last day of filming he escorted her to a Valentine's Day dance. But it was when he took her to the Monaco Grand Prix that she really realized that she had fallen for him. "When Ringo invited me to his home in Monte Carlo to watch the Monaco Grand Prix I didn't hesitate a second. It seemed totally natural."

On the evening of May 19th Ringo was driving Barbara along the dual carriageway of the Kingston bypass to a party in Surrey and had to swerve, at 60 mph, to avoid hitting a lorry. There had been a downpour that day and the road was slippery, sending them on a fifty yard somersaulting skid in which they rammed two lampposts. Ringo ignored his leg injury to pull Barbara safely out of the car, and then headed back to retrieve his cigarettes. By the time they reached Roehampton hospital to get Barbara's cuts bruises and painful back sorted out, Ringo had decided he never wanted to be separated from Bach ever again. He had the wreckage of his Mercedes crushed into a cube as a display piece and had tiny fragments of the windscreen set into lockets for him and Barbara to wear. Three weeks later, Bach told her father that she was going to marry Ringo.

While the happy couple were vacationing in the Bahamas, they received a telephone call from Bach's daughter Francesca. She broke the news to them that John had died. After making a phone call to Ringo's ex-wife Maureen in Maida Vale to let her and Cynthia Lennon know about it, they caught the next flight to New York via Miami so that they could offer condolences to Yoko Ono. On arrival at the Dakota Ono insisted she would only speak to Ringo while Barbara waited in another room, but Ringo gently explained that he and Bach were now one and the same, just like she and John had been… and still were.

Despite the fact that it was common knowledge that Bach and Starr were living in leased house of Sunset Strip, Barbara denied any marriage plans in her January interview with Playboy, saying she couldn't

"imagine why I would ever get married again. The way I am now, if I want to be with someone, I'll be with that person but I see no reason to carry his name as well."

She also made it clear that she had never been much of a Beatles fan:

"I don't think I could have named five of their songs a year ago. I was never really into music, though I am now - up to my ears. I'm surrounded by it because Richard is making another album."

Now that he had Bach, Ringo was ready to rejuvenate his musical career. Barbara was his inspiration and also his motivation: "She kicked me up off my ass and got me recording again."

On April 27th 1981 Barbara became the second Mrs. Richard Starkey at a ceremony in Marylebone Register Office performed by Joseph Jevons, who years earlier had married Paul and Linda McCartney in the same building. The McCartneys and Harrisons were guests at the wedding and reception at Rags (in Mayfair). Bach's wedding dress was designed by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel (who also created Princess Diana's wedding dress). The wedding cake was in the shape of a star.

From that day on they vowed to do everything together, so any project they undertook had to involve both of them. They never left each other even when doing interviews, traveled everywhere together, and only took parts in film and TV shows where there were parts for both of them - such as Paul McCartney's film "Give My Regards To Broad Street" and Princess Daisy. As time went by they found it harder and harder to find projects where both of them could be involved--and ones they were both highly motivated about. In 1989, Ringo said that in those days they would "sit around for hours and talk about what we were going to do- and, of course, I'd get so bleeding drunk, I couldn't move. The result was - nothing happened."

By 1988, they were in real trouble,as a friend explained:

"Their biggest problem was alcohol. They've both been drinking heavily every day for years. Ringo and Barbara also are cocaine users. Ringo had been snorting up to a gram of coke a day and Barbara said she'd been using about half a gram daily. In addition, Ringo has a history of free basing (smoking cocaine). He also smoked marijuana every day and used hallucinogenics, mushrooms and downers. Ringo said that since they'd been married virtually all they've done is sit in a room and use drugs. Barbara revealed that it was the number one priority in their lives - more important than family, more important than each other, more important than anything. Both said they were convinced they were gonna die unless they got help."

At the lowest point Ringo was waking up from blackouts in which he'd destroyed everything around him, yet couldn't remember a thing. One day he woke up from one of these blackouts to find he's also attacked his wife. "I trashed Barbara so bad I thought she was dead. They just found her covered in blood and I'd beaten her up and I'd no idea…".

He immediately decided it was time they sorted themselves out and got Bach to book them into a rehabilitation clinic. Ringo was so paranoid from his coke use that he refused to let her out of his sight for a minute, so the couple insisted on being in the same room at the start of the treatment (which no treatment center would allow).

In October of 1988, the Sierra Tucson Rehabilitation Clinic gave in to their demands when Barbara pleaded: "Please, if you don't help us we're going to die." After finishing the detoxification program they were assigned to separate rooms. The pair have been drug and alcohol free ever since.

Bach has put her acting career on hold for a while saying that "No work has been offered to me that is worth two or three months separation from my family ." Mrs. Starr seems content to spend her time involved in whatever projects her husband currently has lined up. "I don't want to go back to full time working. I've learned to love just being with the family." Ringo seems to need her support in whatever he is doing.

Her husband frequently makes jokes about the time she spends shopping - "I hate going to Paris, whenever Barbara goes shopping in Paris I have to get another job!" - but Barbara finds many worthy things to occupy her time. She involves herself in a great deal of Charity work, including the Live Aid connected "Fashion Aid", and the Rumanian Angel appeal which was set up with Olivia Harrison, Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney. While the others concentrated on getting the money coming in, Barbara spent a lot of time checking to make sure that the funds were used effectively. "It's made such a difference. In one orphanage I visited, the walls have been cheerfully painted with flowers and the alphabet and there [were] sinks and toilets."

Barbara worked alongside Olivia again in the "Parents For Safe Food" Campaign. In 1991 with help from Pattie Boyd, she set up a free clinic for addicts called SHARP (Self Help Addiction Recovery Program) in London that used the Minnesota method. Compared with her former career, Barbara said this direction had "more meaning - and, in the future I'll probably do some counseling." Barbara received a Masters Degree in Psychology from UCLA in 1993.

 
 
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