Shimon Peres will be remembered and mourned for his accomplishments as a politician, statesman, and founding father of the State of Israel, but it is undeniable that, particularly in his later years, Peres had a glitzy side.
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An international celebrity in his own right, particularly during his years as president, Peres openly enjoyed the company of Hollywood stars and developed close ties with numerous celebrities, including Robert De Niro and Barbra Streisand, meeting with them during his travels abroad and on their visits to Israel, and involving many with his charity work through the Peres Center for Peace. Some, like Sharon Stone and Richard Gere, traveled to Israel as guests of the Peres Center, touring the projects, and using their celebrity stardust to boost the profile of the Center’s projects.
The international star who maintained one of the closest and longstanding ties to Peres was singer and actress Barbra Streisand, who released an emotional statement following the news of his death saying that she had “adored” him and saw him as a father figure.
“My heart is bleeding my tears are falling because President Shimon Peres is no longer in this world. He was a father figure not only to his beloved country of Israel, but also to me, because he was what I imagined my father would have been like. Shimon’s mind was expansive and his heart was compassionate. He was a brilliant statesman, gifted with the ability to listen to others who did not share his views and still remained determined to find a path forward. He was a voice of reason who also happened to have the sensibility of a poet thoughtful and soft-spoken, but his words echoed loudly around the world.”
Streisand added that she was “so grateful” that she was able to sing for him at his 90th birthday celebration in Israel. That massive star-studded 2013 event – which some criticized as being overly grandiose and expensive – drew numerous famous guests, some of whom were among those who took to Twitter to pay tribute to him upon his passing on Wednesday.
Stone, who once called Peres her “mentor,” tweeted “Godspeed, my friend” with an emoticon of a broken heart.
Journalists who had interviewed Peres in the past also paid tribute, with former CBS anchorman Dan Rather tweeting that “Of all political leaders I have ever met, few commanded a room with as much grace, charm, and depth as Shimon Peres.”