Fanny Brice

Comedian, Actor, Vaudevillian
The epitome of the 'Nice Jewish Girl', this Newark- and Brooklyn-bred comedian and singer was a favorite on stage and radio from the 1910s through her death in 1951, though she never quite broke through in movies. Brice ... Read more »
Born: 10/29/1891 in New York City, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (5)

The Great Ziegfeld 1935 (Movie)

(Actor)

Be Yourself (Movie)

Fanny Field (Actor)

Everybody Sing (Movie)

Olga Chekaloff (Actor)

Ziegfeld Follies (Movie)

Norma (Actor)

Biography

The epitome of the 'Nice Jewish Girl', this Newark- and Brooklyn-bred comedian and singer was a favorite on stage and radio from the 1910s through her death in 1951, though she never quite broke through in movies. Brice started her career singing in amateur contests and movie houses, working her way up to revues and burlesque. Her big break came when Florenz Ziegfeld signed her for his "Follies of 1910," as a singing comedienne. Gawky, big-nosed and rubber-faced, Brice was no Ziegfeld Girl, but she made her name with the "Follies." (She had changed the spelling of her first name from 'Fannie' to 'Fanny' in the mid-1920s). Brice appeared in seven "Follies" through 1923, as well as Ziegfeld's "Midnight Frolics" from 1915-1921. Her persona was that of the good-humored ugly duckling, skewering contemporary icons from Isadora Duncan to Theda Bara to Sally Rand. Her strong, clear voice could be used in straight songs, such as "Rose of Washington Square" and her signature tune "My Man" (which she introduced in 1921). But she was best known for her comic songs, often done with a Yiddish accent: "The Sheik of Avenue B," "Second Hand Rose," "Sadie Salome." While most closely identified with the "Follies," Brice also appeared in "The Music Box Revue" (1924), "Sweet and Low," and Billy Rose's "Crazy Quilt." Her only non-musical show was "Fanny" (1926), which flopped dismally. After Ziegfeld's death, Brice appeared in two posthumous "Follies" produced by the Shuberts, in 1934 and 1936.

Relationships

John Brice

Grandson

Jules Arndtstein

Husband
Arndtstein jailed 1924-26 for embezzling $5 million

Charles Borach

Father
of French descent

Rose Borach

Mother
born in Hungary

William Brice

Son
survived her

Lew Brice

Brother
born 1892 survived her

Phil Brice

Brother
eldest sibling died in his 20s

Wendy Morrisey

Granddaughter
West Coast editor, VANITY FAIR

Billy Rose Songwriter

Husband

Carolyn Saul

Sister
born 1890 survived her

Frances Stark

Daughter
born 1919 married Ray Stark who produced stage and film versions of "Funny Girl " died 1992

Peter Stark

Grandson
died 1970

Frank White

Husband

Milestones

1964

Posthumously portrayed by Barbra Streisand in Broadway musical "Funny Girl" (filmed 1968)

1946

Final film appearance in "The Ziegfeld Follies"

1938

Began 13-year run as Baby Snooks on radio

1932

Made radio debut

1928

Film debut in "My Man"

1926

Only starring role in a non-musical, "Fanny"

1922

Had nose done and changed name from "Fannie" to "Fanny" (date approximate)

1921

Introduced theme song "My Man" in "Ziegfeld Follies of 1921"

1910

First appearance in "Ziegfeld Follies"

1904

Made stage debut at Keeney's Theater, Brooklyn

Family moved from Lower East Side of NYC to Newark, NJ, to Brooklyn during Brice's early years

First created character of Baby Snooks while appearing in the "Ziegfeld Follies"

Bonus Trivia

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According to an article by James L. Neibaur in Classic Images (December 1996), Brice appeared in several Warner Brothers talking shorts.

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Besides being portrayed by Barbra Streisand, Brice was played by Alice Faye in "Rose of Washington Square" (1939), Rosalind Harris in the 1984 film "The Cotton Club," and by Catherine Jacoby in the 1978 TV-movie "Ziegfeld: The Man and His Women" (NBC).

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