By Kate Boyle
There are only a few women that come to mind when you think of legends of the screen and stage. One women stands out from the rest- she’s a comedienne, superstar singer, dramatic actress, and an award winning director – Barbra Streisand. Streisand is known for her amazing performances in movies like “Funny Girl” (1968), “Hello, Dolly!” (1969), “A Star is Born” (1976) and “Yentl” (1983). She also known for selling more albums in the United States than any other female artist, she is the first women ever to win a Golden Globe for Best Director, and is one of 16 people to have received Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards (EGOT).
Barbra Streisand was born April 24, 1942 in Brooklyn, New York to Jewish parents, Diana and Emanuel Streisand. Her father died when she was young and she grew up in a middle class family. Streisand did well in school, attending Jewish School as a child, then moving to public school, and finally Erasmus Hall High School. She discovered her love of singing and being on stage early, and took any chance she could to perform. She knew she wanted to get out of Brooklyn and become an actress and at 16 she graduated from high school and moved out of her mother’s house to try and make it on her own.
“She also known for selling more albums in the United States than any other female artist, she is the first women ever to win a Golden Globe for Best Director, and is one of 16 people to have received Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards (EGOT).”
Streisand’s first performing job was as a singer in a nightclub. It was during her time performing in nightclubs that she realized she could become an actress after first making a name for herself as a singer. She started talking to the audience between songs and audiences reacted favorably to her style of Brooklyn humor. Streisand soon moved on to stage work and was even nominated for a Tony for her role in “I Can Get It For You Wholesale” in 1962 at the age of 20. After her success on Broadway, Streisand made some TV appearances (the Tonight Show, The Gary Moore Show, The Ed Sullivan Show), then moved on to recording her first two albums- The Barbra Streisand Album (1963) which reached number 10 on the Billboard chart and won three Grammys and then The Second Barbra Streisand Album later that year.
After the success of her first two albums Streisand was quickly gaining notoriety as an amazing singer. In 1964 she returned to Broadway in one of her most well known roles, Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. Streisand originated the roll and it led to her being on the cover of Time magazine and another Tony nomination. She also went on to play Fanny in London’s West End production of Funny Girl. In 1968 Streisand was cast in her first ever feature film as Fanny Brice in the movie adaptation of “Funny Girl”. The film was nominated for many accolades including eight Academy Awards with Streisand winning for Best Actress in a Leading Role. So by the time she was 26, Streisand had two Tony nominations, five Grammy Awards, Two Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe, a Peabody Award, and an Oscar. If this was a not a sign for great things to come, I don’t know what is.
Streisand’s next three films, “Hello, Dolly!” (1969), “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” (1970), and “The Owl and the Pussycat” (1970) were all based on musicals or plays. She starred in many films in the 1970’s including “The Way We Were” (1973) opposite Robert Redford which earned her a Best Actress nomination at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes. In 1976 Streisand starred in the remake of “A Star is Born” with Kris Kristofferson which won all five Golden Globes it was nominated for and was nominated for four Academy Awards. Streisand won Best Original Song at the Golden Globes and at the Oscars, she also took home Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes.
Streisand is a star in front of the camera and behind it. She produced many of the films she starred in and even set up her own production company, Barwood Films. In the early 1980s, Streisand decided it was time for her to direct, produce, and star in her own movie. She did this with “Yentl” (1983), a movie about a young woman who disguises herself as a boy to study Talmudic (Jewish) Law. “Yentl” earned six Golden Globe nominations, winning Best Director and Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical. Streisand’s win for Best Director was the first time a woman had won that award. The next time a woman would win Best Director at the Golden Globes would be 37 years later with Chloe Zhao for “Nomadland” in 2020. “Yentl” also earned five Academy Award nominations, winning Best Music, Original Song Score. Streisand repeated her roles are director, star, and producer in two more films “The Prince of Tides” (1991) and “The Mirror Has Two Faces” (1996) both receiving Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations.
“Whether you’re a fan of her films or her singing or not, it is hard to deny that Barbra Streisand is a star. She has made her mark on the world and will continue to influence it for many, many years to come.”
Many people know Barbra Streisand the actress, but even more people are familiar with Barbra Streisand the singer. As of 2020 Streisand has recorded 50 studio albums. Streisand has recorded songs from many genres- songs from broadway, songs from movies, ballads, pop songs, holiday music, etc. She is the best selling female artist of all time, and number three behind The Beatles and Elvis Presley. Streisand has collected a huge number of awards for her singing, including nine Grammys, a Grammy Legend Award, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, she’s been honored by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, won three Peabody Awards, and been presented a National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She is without a doubt a legend in the film and music industry.
Whether you’re a fan of her films or her singing or not, it is hard to deny that Barbra Streisand is a star. She has made her mark on the world and will continue to influence it for many, many years to come. She has a voice that is easily recognized and yet hard to recreate. She has worked in every avenue of the film and music worlds and succeeded. Legendary doesn’t begin to cover it- watch her movies and listen to her music.