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Barbra Joan Streisand (born April 24, 1942) She is an American singer, theatre and film actress, composer, liberal political activist, film producer and director. She has won Oscars for Best Actress and Best Original Song as well as multiple Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards, Golden Globe Awards. Streisand has ranked as the best selling female album artist of all-time in the United States, according to the RIAA, for over thirty years. She is considered one of the most successful female entertainers in modern entertainment history and is the only woman on the list of best selling album recording artists in the US, with RIAA-certified shipments of over 71 million records. Her extraordinary consistency and sustained popularity continue to keep her in the spotlight after 47 years in the business.
Following a music competition, Streisand became a nightclub singer while in her teens. She originally wanted to be an actress and appeared 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. It was at this time that she shortened her first name to Barbra to make it more distinctive. In 1961 Streisand entered into a contract with Winnipeg, Manitoba's "Town and Country" Restaurant. The performance received critical approval, but the restaurant owner was not savvy enough to understand her performance.
In 1962 Streisand first appeared on Broadway, in a small but star-making role in the musical I Can Get It for You Wholesale (1962). She also signed her first recording contract that year with Columbia Records. Her first album, The Barbra Streisand Album, won two Grammy Awards in 1963. Her recording success continued, and at one time, Streisand's 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.
Jule Styne's and Bob Merrill's Funny Girl (1964), based upon the life of Fanny Brice, was originally offered to Anne Bancroft (Merrill's former paramour), but refashioned for Streisand after Styne saw her I Can Get It For You Wholesale performance. Styne saw Streisand's work in the show at the invitation of producer Ray Stark's wife, who was Fanny Brice's daughter. Ironically, she was strongly opposed to the casting of Streisand, preferring Carol Burnett.
After several notable television appearances, including a legendary guest appearance on The Judy Garland Show (CBS, 1963), Streisand appeared on a number of her own television specials for CBS. The first special, My Name Is Barbra (1965), was praised by critics and fans, as were most of the subsequent specials.
Streisand is classified as one of the most "Amazing Female Vocalists" in the 2006 edition of Women in Song.
Barbra Streisand has recorded more than 60 albums, almost all with the Columbia Records label. Possessing a singing voice of unusual power and range as well as a unique tonal quality, she 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 theatre and nightclub standards, including her version of "Happy Days Are Here Again". Beginning with My Name Is Barbra her albums were often medley-filled keepsakes of her television specials.
Starting in 1969, Streisand tackled contemporary songwriters; like many talented singers of the day, she found herself a fish out of water in attempts to tackle rock, but 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 big hit for Streisand.
In 2006, Streisand reversed the concert 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, NJ, 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, Streisand hinted that six more concerts may follow on foreign soil. The show was known as Streisand: The Tour.
On October 9, 2006, Streisand 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, Streisand 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. Streisand brushed the incident off.
Streisand's 20 concert tour set record-setting box office numbers. At the age of 64, well past the prime of most performers, she grossed $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 Streisand for price gouging, as many tickets sold upwards of 1,000 dollars.
A collection of performances culled from different stops on this tour, Live in Concert 2006, debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200, making it Streisand's 29th Top 10 album. In summer 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 & 25), the only European city where Streisand had performed before 2007. Tickets for the London dates cost between £100.00 and £1,500.00 and for the Ireland date between €118.00 and €500.00.
Her first film was a reprise of her Broadway hit, Funny Girl (1968), an artistic and commercial success, for which she won the 1968 Academy Award for Best Actress, sharing it with Katharine Hepburn (The Lion in Winter), the first time there was a tie in this Oscar category. Her next two movies were also based on musicals, Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly! (1969) and Alan Jay Lerner's and Burton Lane's On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970), while her fourth film was based on the Broadway play The Owl and the Pussycat (film) (1970).
She also starred in the original screwball comedies, including What's Up, Doc? (1972), with Ryan O'Neal, and For Pete's Sake (1974), and the drama The Way We Were (1973) with Robert Redford. Her second Academy Award was for Best Original Song as composer of the song "Evergreen", from A Star Is Born (1976); this was the first time a woman had received this award.
Along with Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier, Streisand formed First Artists Production Company in 1969 so the actors could secure properties and develop movie projects for themselves. Streisand's initial outing with First Artists was the personal Up the Sandbox (1972).
In 1970, she had a topless scene in The Owl and the Pussycat. She regretted the move and requested that director Herbert Ross delete the scene from the movie. Years later, High Society magazine obtained the original negative from the film, which included the topless scene. When they published the photos of her bare breasts, Streisand took action to remove the magazine from the stands. "The Owl and the Pussycat" is also notable for it being the first Hollywood film in which a major Hollywood star uttered the word "fuck," wherein Barbra tells a carload of pestering punks to "just fuck off."
From a period beginning in 1969 and ending in 1980, Streisand appeared in the annual motion picture exhibitors poll of Top 10 Box Office attractions a total of 10 times, often as the only woman on the list. But after the disappointment of All Night Long in 1981, Streisand's film output decreased considerably. She has only acted in five films since.
Streisand produced a number of her own films, setting up Barwood Films in 1972. For Yentl (1983), she was producer, director, writer, and star, an experience she repeated for The Prince of Tides (1991). Steven Spielberg called Yentl a masterpiece, and both won critical acclaim.
There was controversy when Yentl received five Academy Award nominations but none for the major categories of Best Picture, Actress, or Director. Prince of Tides received even more nominations, including Best Picture, but, as often is the case, the director was not nominated.
In 2004, Streisand made a return to film acting, after an eight-year-long break, in the comedy Meet the Fockers (a sequel to Meet the Parents), playing opposite Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller, and Robert De Niro.
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