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An award-winning singer, actress, director, composer, and philanthropist. The highest-selling female recording artist of all time and the most decorated recording artist in history.
Barbara Joan Streisand was born in Brooklyn, NY, to a Jewish family. When she was a year old, her father had died, and her mother had struggled financially, working as a low-paid bookkeeper. Streisand received her early education in Jewish institutes. She was a shy child, been rejected by other children because of her looks, and spending much of her time watching TV and going to the movies. At 13, while on vacation at the Catskills, Streisand and her mother, a soprano in her youth, recorded songs on tape. That was the first time that she thought of herself as an artist. In the following year, after watching her first Broadway play, The Diary of Anne Frank, she decided to become an actress. She began to explore the profession, reading plays, acting theories, and biographies of stage actresses. At 15, she got her first job in the business as backstage assistance at the Cherry Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village.
At 16, after graduating from Erasmus Hall High School with honors, Streisand moved by herself to the Theater District, sleeping with friends while trying to get roles on the stage. At 18, Streisand won a talent contest at the Lion nightclub and started to sing at clubs in the area. During that time, she began to develop her stage persona, creating emotional characters, working on her singing range, and speaking to the audience between songs. In 1962, after two years of performing in various nightclubs, Streisand landed her first role in a Broadway production, playing Miss Marmelstein in the musical I Can Get It for You Wholesale. It got her the first Tony nomination and her first husband, Elliott Gould. Their marriage lasted for 6 years, and they had a son together.
Becoming an immediate sensation, Streisand made her first television appearance on The Tonight Show, and later on The Judy Garland Show and The Garry Moore Show, where she sang for the first time her signature song “Happy Days Are Here Again.” In 1963, Streisand released her first album, the Barbra Streisand Album, for which she won three Grammy Awards. In the following year, she returned to Broadway, playing Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, a role she played again in the movie adaption in 1968, receiving an Academy Award for her performance. During the 60s and 70s, Streisand established her status as a multi-talented performer, releasing a series of award-winning albums, such as Stoney End, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, and Guilty, while starring in various box-office hits, including Hello, Dolly!, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, The Way We Were, and A Star Is Born. In 1972, she founded the Barwood Films production, making her directorial debut in the movie Yentl in 1983, for which she became the first woman to win a Golden Globe for Best Director. She continued to produce, direct and star in the films The Prince of Tides and The Mirror Has Two Faces.
In 1985, Streisand released The Broadway Album, which reached No. 1 in the Billboard chart for three weeks, earning her quadruple platinum and her 8th Grammy award for Best Female Vocalist. Between 1986 – 1991 she released three more albums, including a four-disc box set, Just for the Record. For many years, Streisand avoided live performance, but in the 90s, she returned to the stage. Started as a two-night New Year’s event, her show turned into a multi-city tour with ticket prices reaching $1,500, making Streisand the highest-paid concert performer in history and earning her five Emmy awards. At the age of 55, after almost 10 years, Streisand released an album of new songs, titled Higher Ground, once again reaching the top of the Billboard chart and earning her two Grammy nominations. In 2004, after a leave of 8 years, Streisand returned to film acting in the movie Meet the Fockers. She continued to appear in various guest roles in many TV shows and TV specials, recording soundtracks and releasing singles and records, including her 2018 protest album, Walls.
Streisand uses her fame and fortune to promote political and social causes, raising millions of dollars through live performances. She donated a building to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, gifted $5 million to the Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and with the Streisand Foundation she founded in 1988, she contributed more than $16 million to organizations that promote the preservation of the environment, civil rights, women’s issues, civil liberties, and nuclear disarmament.
Throughout her career, she has recorded 50 studio albums and 10 live records. She appeared in 19 films, directed 3 movies, and produced approximately 30 projects. She received 52 gold albums, 31 platinum albums, and 13 multi-platinum albums, becoming the most decorated recording artist in history.
“Myths are a waste of time. They prevent progression.”
“Myths are a waste of time. They prevent progression.”
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- As a high school freshman, she joined the Choral Club, where she sang with her classmate, Neil Diamond.
- Her mother never supported her career.
- As a teenager, she used to sing on the stoop in front of her apartment building, and soon, she was invited to perform at weddings and events of her neighbors.
- She has a fear of performing live.
- She cloned her dog, Samantha.
- 1960, She dropped the second “a” from her first name, changing “Barbara” to “Barbra.”.
- She is one of the few entertainers to receive an EGOT – Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award.
- She has been married twice and has a son from her first marriage.
- In 1969 she dated Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
- She performed the song “Happy Days Are Here Again” for three presidents—John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Bill Clinton.
More About Her Legacy
* 7 Grammy awards, 2 Academy Awards, 13 Golden Globes Awards, 5 Emmy awards, and a Tony award (1970)
* Awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (1976)
* Distinguished Merit Award by Mademoiselle (1964)
* The Israel Freedom Medal (1968)
* Pied Piper Award by ASCAP and Prix De L'Academie Charles Cros (1969)
* The National Medal of Arts (2000)
* Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame four times
* The Humanitarian Award (2004)
* A medal from the French Legion of Honour (2007)
* The Presidential Medal of Freedom (2015)
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One of Her Landmarks
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