I cannot begin to write what Barbra Streisand meant to me growing up as an artist, performer, dancer, singer and entertainer, but especially as a young woman dreaming of a life beyond where I was born. There was film and Barbra Streisand.
When boys in my high school heard me screeching in the shower outside my window, they laughed and made fun of me for weeks. I was a bit embarrassed, because my shower singing was always ghastly, as I stretched beyond my talents as the water relaxed me and took me beyond the boundaries of my life.
What Ms. Steisand has done in her life is not only remarkable, but has made entertainment history. Some of us understood what it meant when it was Ms. Streisand who presented the Academy Award to the first female director to receive it, Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker.”
Like many liberal women, she’s been a target of the right, while being a staunch supporter of Democrats her entire life, particularly of former Pres. Bill Clinton, though he’s certainly not the only one. She came to Pres. Obama’s aid recently, while slamming the Fourth Estate for negligence, with a slap at Susan G. Komen for playing politics with women’s health. From a piece she did on Huffington Post from February of this year:
…Journalists need to stand strong and do their job, which is to challenge candidates immediately when they are purposefully misleading the public. They should not be polite or fearful of offending someone when the truth is in question. As we continue through the primary and head toward the general election, this is crucial. Without the mainstream media’s commitment to holding candidates accountable, we have little chance of having a well-informed electorate on Election Day. And let’s look at the facts. The truth is, President Obama’s leadership on the stimulus, bringing the auto industry back from the brink of collapse, adding nearly 3.7 million private sector jobs in 23 consecutive months of job growth proves that our country is moving in the right direction. Because of the President’s policies, our economy is on the road to recovery and it’s time we start celebrating the truth.
P.S. Hooray to everyone who supported Planned Parenthood and spoke out against Susan G. Komen for the Cure, who wrongfully politicized the issue of women’s health. This week we saw how the power of grass roots activism can lead to positive change. Bravo!
I’ve chosen some lesser heard vocals, though I start with the most important; others include Streisand in French, which I love, via “Je m’appelle Barbra” (1966) that you can hear after the jump. I never had the means or opportunity to see and hear Ms. Streisand in person, my money always needed to live, but I’ve heard most everything she’s ever recorded, which was good enough for great joy. “One Night Only” is spectacular, if you haven’t heard it yet. There are so many from which to choose. Oh, and if you haven’t had the pleasure of perusing her book on living and design, it’s marvelous.
Happy Birthday 70th to Barbra Streisand.
Your life has meant so much to so many. I’m just one of them.
Actress/singer/director/writer/composer/producer/designer/author/photographer/activist Barbra Streisand is the only artist ever to receive Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Directors Guild of America, Golden Globe, National Medal of Arts and Peabody Awards and France’s Legion d’Honneur as well as the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She is also the first female film director to receive the Kennedy Center Honors.
She won Oscars for both Best Actress (“Funny Girl”) and Best Original Song (for her composition of “Evergreen” which has since become a standard.) She also was nominated for Best Actress for “The Way We Were.” The three films she directed received 14 Oscar nominations. A leading film star in dramas, comedies and musicals, her latest film, “Meet The Fockers,” became the first live-action comedy to earn over half a billion dollars and remains the highest-grossing comedy..
An eight-time Grammy Award winner who is the only performer to have number one albums in five consecutive decades, her 51 gold albums, 30 platinum and 18 multi-platinum, each of which, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, exceeds all other female singers. Only Elvis Presley has achieved more Gold albums than she. The RIAA also notes that her 71 million albums sales tops the RIAA list of album sales by a female singer. With the recent debut at #1 of her “Love Is The Answer” album, her 9th record to reach that top spot, the time-span between her first and most recent Number One albums, exceeding that of any other performer or act, is now 46 years. Her most recent album, “What Matters Most,” debuting at Number 4, was her 31st to reach the Top Ten in the ratings charts, with which she passed The Beatles to become the third highest achiever in that significant statistic, exceeded only by the Rolling Stones and Frank Sinatra.
Her civil rights activism and philanthropic pursuits are just as impressive. The Streisand Foundation has given millions of dollars in 2100 grants to non-profit organizations and she has raised many millions more through her performances.
The career of Barbra Streisand has been paved with bold, creative achievements and highlighted by a series of firsts.
For her first motion picture, “Funny Girl,” she won the 1968 Academy Award for Best Actress, the first of two Oscars.
With “Yentl” (1983,”) her first film as a director, she became the first woman ever to produce, direct, write and star in a major motion picture. “Yentl,” earned five Oscar nominations and also brought her Golden Globes for both Best Director and Best Picture.
“The Prince of Tides,” her next directorial feature, was the first motion picture directed by its female star ever to receive a Best Director nomination from the Directors Guild of America as well as seven Academy Award nominations. Barbra Streisand produced the heralded drama in addition to directing and starring in it.
She won the DGA award (Best Director Music/Variety Television Program) in 1994 for her television special, “Barbra Streisand: The Concert,” which she co-directed with Dwight Hemion.
For her very first Broadway appearance in “I Can Get It For You Wholesale,” she won the New York Drama Critics Award and received a Tony nomination.
For her very first solo recording, “The Barbra Streisand Album,” she won two 1963 Grammy Awards. One of these was for Best Female Vocal Performance. The other, Album of the Year; made her the youngest artist to have received that award.
She is the first female composer ever to win an Academy Award, this for her song, “Evergreen,” the love theme from her 1976 hit film, “A Star Is Born.” She was nominated again in 1997 as co-composer of “I Finally Found Someone,” based on her love theme for her 1996 film as director/producer/star, “The Mirror Has Two Faces.” The film achieved two Oscar nominations and the Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe for Lauren Bacall.
She is the recipient of five personal Emmy awards. Her first television special, “My Name Is Barbra” (1965,) received five Emmy Awards, including one for her for best performance, as well as the distinguished Peabody Award, the first of two. This achievement was repeated 30 years later by “Barbra Streisand: The Concert” which won two additional Emmy awards for Ms. Streisand among the five for the production. That show also was accorded the Peabody Award, the Directors Guild of America award and three CableACE awards and it became the highest-rated musical event in HBO’s history. Her 2001 television concert special, “Barbra Streisand: Timeless. Live in Concert,” also co-directed by its star, won four more Emmys, including one for Ms. Streisand’s performance. She is also an Emmy recipient in 2001 for her Barwood Films’ documentary on pioneering women directors in the early decades of motion pictures, “Reel Models: The First Women of Film.” … and much more…