Barbra Streisand biography
Singer, actress, producer, and director. Born Barbara Joan Streisand, on, New York. After graduating from high school in 1959, she moved to Manhattan to pursue an acting career. In the early 1960s, she sang in various New York nightclubs and landed a 1961 appearance on The Tonight Show. She made her Broadway debut in 1962 in I Can Get It For You Wholesale, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award. Her success on Broadway led to a recording contract with Columbia Records; in 1963, the success of her self-titled debut album made her the top-selling female singer in America. Her breakthrough role on Broadway came in 1964, when she played Fanny Brice, the famous stage comedienne and singer, in Funny Girl, for which she received her second Tony nomination. Streisand won an Oscar for her big screen debut in the 1968 film version of Funny Girl.
Throughout the next three-plus decades, Streisand achieved superstardom as both an actress and a singer. During the 1960s, she released nine Top Ten albums, including the Grammy-winning My Name is Barbra (1966), Simply Streisand (1967), and What About Today? (1969). Although a good deal of her music was drawn from her performances in films or on Broadway, a 1971 rock & roll album, Stoney End, also won praise. Her phenomenal success as a recording artist only grew during the 1970s. She collaborated with Bee Gee Barry Gibb on 1977’s Streisand Superman and scored No. 1 hits with her duets with Neil Diamond (1978’s “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”) and Donna Summer (1979’s “Enough is Enough”). Albums she recorded in the 1980s included Memories (1981) and The Broadway Album (1985).
Her film career blossomed as well, boosted by her unconventional beauty and take-charge attitude. In 1969, she starred in the glitzy film version of the Broadway musical Hello Dolly!, in a role originated on stage by Carol Channing. With her newly-formed production company, Barwood Films, she produced and starred in 1972’s Up the Sandbox. Huge box office hits like What’s Up Doc? (1972) and The Way We Were (1973), co-starring Robert Redford, made Streisand the top-grossing female actress of the 1970s.
For 1976’s A Star is Born, her first film as executive producer, Streisand also starred and wrote some of the film’s songs, becoming the first female composer ever to win an Academy Award, for the song “Evergreen.”
With the 1983 film Yentl, the story of a Jewish woman who poses as a boy in order to study the Talmud, Streisand again broke new ground in motion picture history by becoming the first woman to co-write, produce, direct, and star in a motion picture. The film received mixed reviews. After turning in another emotionally wrenching performance in the 1987 film Nuts, Streisand directed her second feature, The Prince of Tides (1991), based on the best-selling novel by Pat Conroy and co-starring Nick Nolte. The film received rave reviews, and was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The Academy’s striking omission of Streisand in the Best Director category drew criticism from many corners of the entertainment community. She shook off the snub, and in 1996 returned with another, less successful directorial effort, The Mirror Has Two Faces, in which she starred with Jeff Bridges and Lauren Bacall. Through her filmmaking career, Streisand has been criticized for her highhanded style and her perfectionism; she responded with the observation that such traits would be considered assets when applied to a male director.
Notoriously shy about performing live, Streisand took a more than 20-year hiatus from performing live, reportedly quitting after receiving a death threat before a 1967 concert. In 1994, she returned with two highly successful New Year’s shows at the Las Vegas MGM Grand Hotel, for which she reportedly received $12 million. Later that year, she went on her first-ever major multi-city concert tour, including several shows in New York’s Madison Square Garden, which were recorded and later released as The Concert (1994). Her successful touring career continued throughout the 1990s, including a gala Las Vegas Millennium concert event on New Year’s Eve 1999. In January 2000, Streisand received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
A committed Democrat, she founded the Barbra Streisand Foundation in 1987 to support liberal political causes. She has also gone public with her support for gay and women's rights and environmentalism.
In September 2000, Streisand announced she was retiring from performing. She said goodbye to her fans with two sold-out, star-studded shows at New York's Madison Square Garden, with tickets selling for up to $2,500.
Streisand was married to Elliott Gould (her co-star in Broadway’s I Can Get it For You Wholesale) from 1963 to 1971. They have one son, Jason Gould, who appeared in The Prince of Tides as the awkward teenage son of Streisand’s character.
After well-publicized relationships with producer Jon Peters, actors Ryan O’Neal, Don Johnson, and Liam Neeson, and a rumored liaison with tennis player Andre Agassi, Streisand married actor James Brolin in 1998 in a ceremony at her home in Malibu, California.