Lainie Kazan spills on her feud with Barbra Streisand, flirtation with Dean Martin

Millennials may recognize Lainie Kazan as the lovably overbearing mom in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but back in the day she was a rising star who rubbed elbows with Old Hollywood’s A-list.

Kazan, 76, served as understudy to former high school classmate Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl until she left the Broadway musical after finally performing one night when Babs had strep, she said Thursday on Conversations with Maria Menounos.

“I never was a friend of hers, not really,” she said. “It was a very difficult time for both of us. I think we were very young. We both envied each other in an odd way. … I wanted to be her. I wanted to be the person who was in the show, who was getting all the accolades, but when I had the chance to do some things, I took it.”

From there, Kazan enjoyed a long career as an actress and singer, headlining Playboy Jazz Clubs and appearing on Dean Martin’s variety show 26 times.

Sparks flew, but Kazan insists they never hooked up.

“He was warm and delicious and funny, and he adored me and I adored him. It made for such a wonderful communication, and we never had any kind of an affair or anything like that, but that was what was in the air,” she said. “I had just gotten married, and I was just, you know, just very loyal. It was all so new to me, but I knew he was so attracted to me and I to him, but I never went there.”

“It was definitely there and it was profound, and I had to hold myself together,” she added of their chemistry.

Kazan also discussed her “Rubenesque” nude Playboy spread — and the seedy circumstances surrounding the photoshoot. Listen to the clip below for more:

Conversations with Maria Menounos airs weekdays at 1 pm ET on SiriusXM Stars (Ch. 109).

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