Barbra Streisand's Biography:
Barbara Joan Streisand (STRY-sand) was born April 24, 1942 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York.
She is an American singer, film and theatre actress. She has also achieved some note as a composer, political activist, film producer and director. She has won Academy Awards for Best Actress and Best Original Song as well as multiple Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards, and Golden Globe Awards.
Barbra Streisand is considered one of the most commercially and critically successful female entertainers in modern entertainment history and one of the best selling solo recording artists in the US, with RIAA-certified shipments of over 71 million albums. She is the highest ranking female artist on the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) Top Selling Artists list. She has sold approximately 148 million albums worldwide.
Barbra Streisand is a member of the short list of entertainers with the distinction of having won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony award.
Her father, Emanuel Streisand, a grammar school teacher who emigrated from Vienna, Austria, died while working as a Jewish summer camp counselor in upstate New York when she was 15 months old. Her older brother remembers him.
Starting at age seven she had a turbulent relationship with her stepfather, Louis Kind. She has a half-sister from her mother's second marriage, Roslyn Kind, who also became a singer, performing on Saturday Night Live in 1976.
Barbra's mother, Diana, an American-born school secretary, discouraged her daughter from pursuing a show business career, opining that she was not attractive enough, and encouraged her to learn to type. Barbra Streisand attended Erasmus Hall High School, where she graduated third in her class in 1959, and where she sang in the school choir with Neil Diamond. She was also friendly there with future World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer.
After a music competition, Barbra became a nightclub singer while in her teens. She originally wanted to be an actress and appeared in summer stock and in a number of Off-Off-Broadway productions, including one with then-aspiring actress Joan Rivers, but when her boyfriend Barry Dennen helped her create a club act — first performed in a gay bar in Manhattan's Greenwich Village in 1960 — she achieved success as a singer.
In 1961 Barbra Streisand appeared at the Town and Country nightclub in Winnipeg, Manitoba, but her appearance was cut short; audiences did not understand her revolutionary singing style. It was at this time that she shortened her first name to Barbra to make it more distinctive.
A kinescope exists of Barbra Streisand's first television appearance, which was on The Tonight Show in 1961 during the era when Jack Paar hosted it. The kinescope, which has circulated on Youtube, exists because in 1961 Streisand's older brother bought it from NBC. Orson Bean, who substituted for Paar that night, had seen the singer perform at a gay bar and booked her for the telecast. Later in 1961, Barbra became a semi-regular on P.M. East P.M. West, a talk/variety series hosted by Mike Wallace.
His co-host, Joyce Davidson, was best known for a recent stint as a CBC Television talk host. Westinghouse Broadcasting, which aired P.M. East P.M. West in a select few cities (Boston, New York, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Cleveland, Chicago and San Francisco), wiped all the videotapes, which means that no moving image exists of Streisand on the show.
Audio segments from some episodes are part of her compilation CD Just for the Record, which went platinum in 1991. The singer said on 60 Minutes in 1991 that thirty years earlier Mike Wallace had been "mean" to her on P.M. East P.M. West. He countered that she had been "self-absorbed." 60 Minutes included the audio of Streisand saying to him in 1961, "I like the fact that you are provoking. But don't provoke me."
In 1962, after several appearances on P.M. East P.M. West, Streisand first appeared on Broadway, in the small but star-making role of Miss Marmelstein in the musical I Can Get It for You Wholesale.
She also signed her first recording contract that year with Columbia Records. She appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1962, and this brought her to the attention of fellow guest Liberace, who featured her in his acts in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In July 1963, Streisand first performed with Liberace at the Riviera (hotel and casino) in Las Vegas. On September 9, 1963, she appeared as the opening act for him at Harrah's Lake Tahoe South Shore Room. She was touted as "the nation's newest singing sensation . . . who comes to Tahoe from a record-smashing engagement at Hollywood's Cocoanut Grove." (This club was actually located inside The Ambassador Hotel near downtown Los Angeles.)
Her first album, The Barbra Streisand Album, won two Grammy Awards in 1963. Her recording success continued, and at one time her first three albums appeared simultaneously on Billboard's pop albums Top Ten — an unusual feat considering it was at a time when rock and roll and The Beatles dominated the charts.
Following her success in I Can Get It for You Wholesale, Barbra Streisand made several appearances on The Tonight Show when it was hosted by Johnny Carson. Portions of their conversations in 1962 and 1963 survive in audio. When they first sat down together in 1962, they covered topics ranging from her En Pierre dresses that she bought wholesale to her "crazy" reputation at Erasmus Hall High School to her desire to sing at the Metropolitan Opera and travel around the world. NBC wiped all the videotapes as it did with most Tonight broadcasts in the 1950s and 1960s.
Barbra Streisand returned to Broadway in 1964 with an acclaimed performance as entertainer Fanny Brice in Funny Girl at the Winter Garden Theatre. The show introduced two of her signature songs, People and Don't Rain on My Parade. The play's overnight success resulted in her becoming one of the youngest women ever to grace the cover of Time.
Although she continued to sing on television shows, she evidently decided during this period not to sit down with Johnny Carson again and to stop adlibbing with other talk hosts in the United States. In 1966, she repeated her success with Funny Girl in London's West End at the Prince of Wales Theatre.
One notable American TV special was a documentation of Streisand's 1967 free concert in New York's Central Park, at which she sang to a crowd of some 135,000 people. She resumed giving American television interviews in 1976 when she sat down with Barbara Walters.
Barbra Streisand has recorded more than 60 albums, almost all with the Columbia Records label. Streisand has stamped nearly every song she has sung with her unique style of interpretation. Her early works in the 1960s (her debut, The Second Barbra Streisand Album, The Third Album, My Name Is Barbra, etc.) are considered classic renditions of theater and cabaret standards, including her slow version of the normally uptempo Happy Days Are Here Again.
She performed this in a duet on The Judy Garland Show. Garland referred to her on the air as one of the last great belters. They also sang There's No Business Like Show Business (song) with Ethel Merman joining them.
Beginning with My Name Is Barbra, her early albums were often medley-filled keepsakes of her television specials. Starting in 1969, she began attempting more contemporary material, but like many talented singers of the day, she found herself out of her element with rock. Her vocal talents prevailed, and she gained newfound success with the pop and ballad-oriented Richard Perry-produced album Stoney End in 1971. The title track, written by Laura Nyro, was a major hit for Streisand.
During the 1970s, she was also highly prominent on the pop charts, with Top 10 recordings such as The Way We Were (US No. 1), Evergreen (US No. 1), No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) (with Donna Summer) (US No. 1), You Don't Bring Me Flowers (with Neil Diamond) (US No. 1) and The Main Event (US No. 3), some of which came from soundtrack recordings of her films.
As the 1970s ended, Streisand was named the most successful female singer in the U.S. - only Elvis Presley and The Beatles had sold more albums. In 1982, New York Times music critic Stephen Holden wrote that Streisand was "the most influential mainstream American pop singer since Frank Sinatra."
In 1980, she released her best-selling effort to date, the Barry Gibb-produced Guilty. The album contained the hits Woman In Love (which spent several weeks atop the pop charts in the Fall of 1980), Guilty and What Kind of Fool.
After years of largely ignoring Broadway and traditional pop music in favor of more contemporary material, Streisand finally returned to her musical-theater roots with 1985's The Broadway Album, which was unexpectedly successful, holding the coveted #1 Billboard position for three straight weeks, and being certified quadruple Platinum.
The album featured tunes by Rodgers & Hammerstein, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern and, most notably, Stephen Sondheim - who was even persuaded to rework some of his songs especially for this recording. The Broadway Album was met with nearly universal acclaim including a nomination for Album of the Year and, ultimately, handed Streisand her eighth Grammy as Best Female Vocalist.
After releasing the live album One Voice in 1986, Barbra Streisand was set to take another musical journey along the Great White Way in 1988. She recorded several cuts for the album under the direction of Rupert Holmes, including On My Own (from Les Misérables), a medley of How Are Things in Glocca Morra? and Heather on the Hill (from Finian's Rainbow and Brigadoon, respectively), All I Ask of You (from Phantom of the Opera), Warm All Over (from The Most Happy Fella) and an unusual solo version of Make Our Garden Grow (from Candide). Barbra Streisand was not happy with the direction of the project and it was ultimately scrapped. Only Warm All Over and a reworked, Lite FM-friendly version of All I Ask of You were ever released - the latter appearing on Streisand's 1988 effort, Till I Loved You.
The beginning of the 1990s found her focusing on her directorial efforts and largely inactive in the recording studio. In 1991, a four-disc box set, Just for the Record, was released. A compilation spanning Barbra Streisand's entire career to date, it featured over 70 tracks of live performances, greatest hits, rarities and previously-unreleased material.
The following year, Barbra's concert fundraising events helped propel former President Bill Clinton into the spotlight and into office. Barbra later introduced Clinton at his inauguration in 1993. Her music career, however, was largely on hold. A 1992 appearance at an APLA benefit as well as the aforementioned inaugural performance hinted that the star was becoming more receptive to the idea of a live performances. A tour was suggested, though Barbra would not immediately commit to it, citing her her well-known stage fright as well as security concerns.
During this time, she finally returned to the recording studio and released Back to Broadway in June 1993. The album was not as universally lauded as its predecessor, but it did debut at #1 on the pop charts (a rare feat for an artist of Barbra's age, especially given that it relegated Janet Jackson's Janet to the #2 spot). One of the album's highlights was a medley of I Have A Love / One Hand, One Heart a duet with the legendary Johnny Mathis, whom Streisand said is one of her favorite singers.
In September 1993, Barbra made global news, announcing her first public concert appearances in 27 years. What began as a two-night New Year's event at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas eventually led to a multi-city tour in the Summer of 1994. Tickets to the tour were sold out in under one hour.
Barbra also appeared on the covers of major magazines in anticipation of what Time magazine named "The Music Event of the Century". The tour was one of the biggest all-media merchandise parlays in history. Ticket prices ranged from US$50 to US$1,500 - making Barbra Streisand the highest paid concert performer in history.
Barbra Streisand: The Concert went on to be the top grossing concert of the year, earned five Emmy Awards and the Peabody Award, and the taped broadcast on HBO is, to date, the highest rated concert special in HBO's 30 year history.
Following the tour's conclusion, Barbra once again kept a low profile musically, instead focusing her efforts on her acting and directing duties as well as her burgeoning romance with actor James Brolin. In 1997, she finally returned to the recording studio, releasing Higher Ground - a collection of songs of a loosely-inspirational nature which also featured a duet with Celine Dion. The album received generally favorable reviews and, remarkably, once again debuted at #1 on the pop charts.
Following her marriage to Brolin in 1998, Barbra recorded an album of love songs entitled A Love Like Ours the following year. Reviews were mixed, with many critics carping about the somewhat syrupy sentiments and overly-lush arrangements; however, it did produce a modest hit for Barbra in the country-tinged If You Ever Leave Me, a duet with Vince Gill.
On New Year's Eve 1999, Barbra Streisand returned to the concert stage, giving the highest grossing single concert in Las Vegas history to date. At the end of the millennium, she was the number one female singer in the U.S., with at least two #1 albums in each decade since she began performing. A 2-disc live album of the concert entitled Timeless: Live in Concert was released in 2000. Streisand performed versions of the "Timeless" concert in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia in early 2000.
Barbra's most recent albums have been Christmas Memories (2001), a somewhat somber collection of holiday songs (which felt entirely - albeit unintentionally - appropriate in the early post-9/11 days), and The Movie Album (2003), featuring famous movie themes and backed by a large symphony orchestra. Guilty Pleasures (called Guilty Too in the UK), a collaboration with Barry Gibb and a sequel to their previous Guilty, was released worldwide in 2005.
In February 2006, Barbra recorded the song Smile alongside Tony Bennett at Streisand's Malibu home. The song is included on Tony Bennett's 80th Birthday Album, Duets. In September 2006, the pair filmed a live performance of the song for a special directed by Rob Marshall entitled Tony Bennett: An American Classic. The special aired on NBC Television November 21, 2006, and was released on DVD the same day. Streisand's duet with Bennett opens the special.
In advance of four concerts (two each in Los Angeles and New York) in September 2000, Barbra announced she was retiring from future paying public concerts. Her performance of the song People was broadcast on the Internet via America Online.
In 2006, she came out of retirement and announced her intent to tour again, in an effort to raise money and awareness for multiple issues. After four days of rehearsal at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, New Jersey, the tour began on October 4 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia and concluded at Staples Center in Los Angeles on November 20, 2006. Special guests Il Divo were interwoven throughout the show. On stage closing night, Barbra hinted that six more concerts may follow on foreign soil. The show was known as Streisand: The Tour.
On October 9, 2006, Barbra performed a concert at the Madison Square Garden, featuring a skit that made fun of President George W. Bush. When one heckler continued to yell repeated taunts during and long after the skit had ended, Barbra responded by shouting "Shut the fuck up!" She later apologized, but added that "The artist's role is to disturb."
Ultimately, Streisand endured negative reaction to the sketch at only two out of her twenty concert dates. It was thought that an audience member in Fort Lauderdale threw liquid from a cup at her because of the skit, but the incident was found to be non-political.
Her 20-concert tour set record box office numbers. At the age of 64, well past the prime of most performers, she grossed US$92,457,062 and set house gross records in 14 of the 16 arenas played on the tour. She set the third place record for her October 9, 2006 show at Madison Square Garden, the first and second place records of which are held by her two shows in September 2000. She set the second place record at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, with her December 31, 1999 show being the house record and the highest grossing concert of all time. This led many people to openly criticize her for price gouging, as many tickets sold for upwards of US$1,000.
A collection of performances culled from different stops on this tour, Live in Concert 2006, debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200, making it her 29th Top 10 album. In the summer of 2007, Streisand gave concerts for the first time in continental Europe. The first concert took place in Zürich (June 18), then Vienna (June 22), Paris (June 26), Berlin (June 30), Stockholm (July 4, cancelled), Manchester (July 10) and Celbridge, near Dublin (July 14), followed by three concerts in London (July 18, 22 and 25), the only European city where Streisand had performed before 2007. Tickets for the London dates cost between GB£100.00 and GB£1,500.00 and for the Ireland date between €118.00 and €500.00. The tour included a 58 piece orchestra.
In February 2008, Forbes Magazine listed Barbra Streisand as the #2 top-earning female musician, between June 2006 and June 2007, with earnings of about US$60 million.
Although Barbra's range has changed with time and her voice has become deeper and huskier in recent years (which is particularly evident in her live performances), her vocal prowess has remained remarkably secure for a singer whose career has endured for nearly half a century.
Barbra sued Kenneth Adelman, an aerial photographer who displayed a photo of her Malibu, California home along with other photos of the entire California coastline on the website of the California Coastal Records Project. Her suit was dismissed under the anti-SLAPP provisions of California law. Streisand v. Adelman Et al, in California Superior Court; Case SC077257. The publicity generated by her efforts to suppress the photograph has given rise to the term Streisand effect.
Barbra has been married twice. Her first husband was actor Elliott Gould, to whom she was married from 1963 to 1971. They have one child, Jason Gould. Her second husband is James Brolin, whom she married on July 1, 1998. While they have no children together, Brolin has two children from his first marriage and one child from his second marriage. Both of her husbands starred in the 1970s conspiracy thriller Capricorn One.
Jon Peters' daughters, Caleigh Peters and Skye Peters, are her goddaughters.
On a Season 8 episode of Friends, Brolin is mentioned as the cause of Phoebe Buffay's supposed pregnancy. In the same episode, Gould appears on the show as Ross and Monica's father.
Barbra shares a birthday with Shirley MacLaine, and they celebrate together every year.
Her philanthropic organization, The Streisand Foundation, gives grants to "national organizations working on preservation of the environment, voter education, the protection of civil liberties and civil rights, women’s issues and nuclear disarmament" and has given large donations to programs related to women's health.
Her iconic status has been parodied on the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live in the recurring skit Coffee Talk where character Linda Richman, played by Mike Myers, hosts a talk show dedicated to, among other things, the adoration of Barbra Streisand. The star, in turn, made an unannounced guest appearance on the show, surprising Myers and guests, Madonna, and Roseanne Barr.
She has been repeatedly satirized in the animated series South Park, most notably the episode "Mecha-Streisand", where she is portrayed as self-important and turns into a gigantic robotic dinosaur in order to conquer the universe, before being defeated by Robert Smith of The Cure. On another occasion, the Halloween episode "Spookyfish" was promoted for a week as being done in "Spooky-Vision", which involved Barbra Streisand's face seen at times during the episode in the four corners of the screen. At the end of the feature film South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, her name is used as a powerful curse word, a gag repeated in the episode "Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants".
Her name is regularly used as a euphimism for bull shit by political pundit Rush Limbaugh (See also: Jargon of The Rush Limbaugh Show).
Barbra is the favorite of the character Howard Brackett, played by Kevin Kline, in the film In & Out, who finally admits to being gay while standing at the altar. His unfortunate bride-to-be, played by Joan Cusack, cries out in frustration to family and friends present, "Do you know how many times I've had to sit through Funny Lady?" In an earlier scene, Howard is taunted by a friend during an argument at a bar with a jeering, "The studio thought that Barbra was too ol-l-ld to play Yentl." Barbra's signature tune, "People", is played by a school orchestra in honor of teacher Howard as the story wraps at the end of the credits. This and similar references refer to her popularity among gay men.
Barbra Streisand is mentioned many times in Fran Drescher's The Nanny, where Fran Drescher played Fran Fine who, along with her entire family, is obsessed with the performer.
In 1993 Robin Williams' Mrs. Doubtfire, while trying different looks to apply to the Mrs. Doubtfire character, Williams uses a wig "a la Streisand" and sings some lines from "Don't Rain On My Parade", but discarded the idea.
Barbra Streisand is referenced in at least two episodes of Friends. In The One Where Chandler Can't Remember Which Sister, Monica names a sandwich at her 50's-styled restaurant after Barbra. A soup is also named after Barbra's movie Yentl. Meanwhile, in The One After 'I Do', Phoebe pretends she is pregnant with James Brolin's baby, to which Chandler Bing responds "[A]s in Barbra Streisand's husband, James Brolin?"
Barbra Streisand is referenced in at least three episodes of The Simpsons. Outside Springfield Elementary School, announcing Lisa's jazz concert, is an advertisement for a Streisand concert in the same venue for the following day, with tickets still on sale. In another episode, after Marge undergoes therapy, she informs the therapist that whenever she hears the wind blow, she'll hear it saying "Lowenstein", Streisand's therapist character in The Prince of Tides, despite Marge's therapist having a completely different name. Another reference comes in "Sleeping with the Enemy" when Bart exclaims after seeing Lisa make a snow-angel in a cake on the kitchen table, "At least she's not singing Streisand".
In The In-Laws, Michael Douglas's character borrows Barbra Streisand's jet, and in the bathroom "The Way We Were" is playing on the speaker system and Albert Brooks finds a large drawer full of nail polish, referencing her signature long fingernails.
In the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas a teenage runaway (played by Christina Ricci) paints images of Barbra Streisand while being administered large amounts of LSD by Hunter Thompson's Samoan attorney.
In the Broadway Musical Spamalot, the song "You can't succeed on Broadway" references lines from "People" and "Papa, Can You Hear Me?".
In the internet cartoon and subsequent movie Queer Duck, the character is obsessed with Barbra Streisand. In the film he undergoes Christian-based conversion therapy to be made straight, and only Barbra's magic nose can return him to his gayness.
In a Family Guy episode, where Peter is a bartender, Lois does a cabaret act and sings "Don't Rain On My Parade," only slowed down and jazzier, as an act of defiance to Peter.
In a Family Guy episode, Peter received life insurance after Lois died. Peter then claimed that he has more money than Streisand. This was followed by a cut scene showing the star and her husband in their home. The husband asked for money and Barbra Streisand pressed one nostril of her nose and dollar bills came out the other nostril.
In Chicken Little, Chicken's best friend Runt's mom says, after she thinks he is lying about seeing an alien spaceship, "Don't make me take away your Streisand collection!" and Runt returns with, "Mother, you leave Barbra out of this!"
Barbra is also famous for her crimped hairstyle.
For more information on Barbra Streisand refer to: