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Celebrating the Timeless Barbra Streisand’s Movies and Music

Barbra Streisand is a legend through and through.

The Jewish American singer, actress, and filmmaker is one of the few performers in Hollywood that has been awarded an E.G.O.T. (Emmy, GRAMMY, Oscar, Tony). Through Barbra Streisand’s extensive catalog and talent, she proves to be a classic treasure for all ages.

How old is Barbra Streisand?

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on April 24, 1942, Barbra Streisand is now 79 years old.

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Barbra’s mother, Diana Streisand, worked as a school secretary, and her father, Emmanuel Streisand, was a high school teacher. While her paternal grandparents emigrated from Galicia (now the border of Poland-Ukraine), her maternal grandparents emigrated from the former Russian Empire.

When Barbra turned one, Emmanuel died from complications from an epileptic seizure. Her mother then remarried to Louis Kind in 1949.

Barbra also has an older brother named Sheldon and a half-sister, singer Roslyn Kind.

Barbra Streisand got her start on the stage

After Barbra Streisand graduated high school, she moved to Manhattan with friends to pursue an acting career. While working various jobs simultaneously, Barbra was encouraged to enter a talent show at a gay nightclub, Lion, where she performed two songs. After winning the contest, Barbra continued singing at the club for many weeks, eventually earning herself a professional singing gig at Bon Soir nightclub.

Barbra Streisand made her debut on Broadway in the 1961 production of I Can Get It For You Wholesale, where she won a Drama Critics Award and was nominated for a Tony Award. In 1964, she took on her iconic role of Fanny Brice in the musical Funny Girl. That same year, Barbra’s performance as Fanny Brice earned her a Tony nomination for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.

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Barbra Streisand went on to pursue a music career

In 1962, Barbra Streisand signed with Columbia Records and released her first album, The Barbra Streisand Album. Peaking at number eight on the Billboard Pop Albums chart, it won two GRAMMY Awards, including Album of the Year and Best Female Vocal Performance. Barbra then went on to release more albums such as The Second Barbra Streisand Album (1963), The Third Album (1964), and My Name is Barbra (1965).  

With a repertoire of theatrical songs, cabaret-style music, and pop tracks, Barbra’s catalog includes 50 recorded albums. Her most recent album is the 2018 release Walls.

Barbra Streisand has the instantly recognizable type of voice where you hear her sing only two notes, and you know it’s her. Jazz critic Whitney Balliett wrote in his 1994 New Yorker review about the mezzo-soprano’s distinguished voice:

“Streisand is a contralto with a couple of octaves at her command, and she wows her listeners with her shrewd dynamics (in-your-ear soft here, elbowing-loud there), her bravura climbs, her rolling vibrato, and the singular Streisand-from-Brooklyn nasal quality of her voice—a voice as immediately recognizable in its way as Louis Armstrong’s.”     

Barbra Streisand songs

Barbra Streisand was a natural as she performed renditions of classic theatre songs, including Milton Ager and Jack Yellen’s “Happy Days Are Here Again.” In an unforgettable moment on The Judy Garland Show in 1963, Barbra performed the song in a duet with Judy herself. 

Barbra Streisand reminisced about the unforgettable moment in a tweet from 2019:  

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Throughout her career, Barbra has had 41 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Some of these songs include “People” (1964), “The Way We Were” (1974), “Evergreen” (1977), and “Guilty” (1981). One of her most popular anthems is the Funny Girl hit, “Don’t Rain On My Parade.” Various performers and artists have covered the iconic tune, like actress Lea Michele in the musical TV series Glee. 

While the number has been redone by so many, something is exhilarating about hearing Barbra Streisand belt out the words, “Hey, Mister Arnstein. Here I am!”

Barbra Streisand movies: Funny Girl (1968)

After originating the role of Fanny Brice on Broadway, Barbra Streisand again took on the character, but this time for the silver screen. The biographical musical comedy-drama film is an adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name.

Directed by William Wyler, the film loosely follows the life and career of the Broadway actress and comedian Fanny Brice and her rocky relationship with entrepreneur and gambler Nicky Arnstein, played by Omar Sharif. The movie also stars Kay Medford, Anne Francis, and Walter Pidgeon.

Like “Don’t Rain On My Parade” and “People,” the movie reintroduces fan-favorite numbers from the musical like “I’m the Greatest Star” and the heart-wrenching ballad “My Man.”

The film gained commercial success, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1968 in the United States. It then secured eight Academy Award nominations in 1969, with Barbra Streisand tying for Best Actress with Katharine Hepburn.

You can watch the movie on Amazon Prime.

Barbra Streisand movies: Hello, Dolly! (1969)

Barbra Streisand took on another stage-to-screen adaptation with Gene Kelly’s 1969 movie musical Hello, Dolly! Based on the 1964 Broadway production, the story focuses on a middle-aged widowed matchmaker, Dolly Levi, who visits Yonkers, New York, to help find a match for the unmarried millionaire Horace Vandergelder.

Barbra Streisand stars as Dolly alongside Walter Matthau, who plays Horace. The cast also features Michael Crawford, Marianne McAndrew, Danny Lockin, E.J. Peaker, and Louis Armstrong.

At first, people were confused why a 25-year-old was playing a middle-aged widower, even Barbra herself. She told Look Magazine in 1969:

“I did feel that Dolly was a story of older people and that they should hire Elizabeth Taylor to play her. I thought that would be a great role for her first musical. But when everybody seemed to be against me as Dolly [except producer Ernest Lehman and 20th Century-Fox], I took up the challenge.”

Barbra Streisand proved critics wrong when she earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy in 1969. The film won three Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, Best Score of a Musical Picture, and Best Sound while also being nominated for Best Picture.

You can watch the movie on Disney+.

Barbra Streisand movies: The Way We Were (1973)

Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford play lovers in the 1973 film The Way We Were. Based on the novel and screenplay by Arthur Laurents, the story follows the romantic relationship between a politically active Jewish woman and a carefree, white Anglo-Saxon Protestant. Although the two are deeply in love, their political beliefs and dreams start to drive them apart. The film is semi-biographical, based on Arthur Laurents’ college days at Cornell University.

With significant box office success, the movie received six Academy Award nominations, winning Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Original Song for the movie’s theme, “The Way We Were.” The soundtrack of the same name hit the Top 20 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold.

In 2002, The Way We Were made the top 10 for the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Love Stories of All Time. It currently ranks at number six.

In 2010, Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford reunited to speak with Oprah about the making of the movie and the natural chemistry between the two actors.

“I remember the fun we had,” Robert Redford says about Barbra Streisand. “I remember liking her energy and her spirit; it was wonderful to play off of. I also really enjoyed kidding her. She was fun to kid.”

You can watch the movie on Amazon Prime.

Barbra Streisand movies: A Star Is Born (1976)

Before Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper rocked the stage in A Star Is Born, Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson starred in their own version in 1976. Based on the original 1937 film with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, the romantic drama tells the story of a young singer Esther who falls in love with a rock ‘n’ roll star. While her career continues to thrive, his declines.

Barbra Streisand worked with composer Paul Williams to create an original song for the film called “Evergreen.” It went on to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1977, making Barbra the first woman to win an Oscar for composing. The song also won the GRAMMY for Song of the Year in 1978.

Ranking as the second-highest-grossing film of 1976, the movie received three more Academy Award nominations, including Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and Best Sound.

Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson shocked audiences in 2015 when they performed their duet from the film “Lost Inside You” at the British Summertime concert in London’s Hyde Park.

Barbra Streisand movies: Yentl (1983)

Barbra Streisand directed, co-wrote, co-produced, and starred in the movie musical Yentl. The film follows Yentl Mendel, an Ashkenazi Jewish girl in Poland who disguises herself as a man to continue her education in Talmudic Law after her father dies. The movie also features Mandy Patinkin, Amy Irving, Nehemiah Persoff, and Steven Hill.

After reading author Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short story Yentl the Yeshiva Boy in 1968, Barbra Streisand wanted to develop it into a film. Fifteen years later, the film went into production after a difficult and arduous process. Barbra spoke with Playgirl in 1984 about the lengths she went to for the film:

“I constantly had to give up everything. I didn’t get paid for writing, I got paid [Directors Guild] scale for directing, which I think is something like $80,000, and I got paid much less as an actress than I did in my last film, All Night Long (for which she was paid a reported $4 million). And then I had to give back half my salary if we went over budget. But it didn’t matter to me. Nothing mattered to me except getting this movie made.”

It was worth it in the end. At the 1983 Golden Globe Awards, Barbra became the first woman to win Best Director.. The film also won the Golden Globe that year for Best Motion Picture in a Musical or Comedy. Yentl went on to win Best Original Score at the Oscars and was nominated for Best Original Song for “Papa Can You Hear Me.”

Barbra Streisand movies: Meet the Fockers (2004) and Little Fockers (2010) 

In Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers, Barbra Streisand plays Ben Stiller’s eccentric mother. Both comedy films are a part of the star-studded Meet the Parents series. Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner also star, with Owen Wilson, Jessica Alba, and Laura Dern joining for the third film.

Following the first film, Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers follows Greg and Pam Focker as they introduce their families to one another. Barbra Streisand stars as Roz Focker, Greg’s mother who works as a sex therapist for elderly couples.

Shelley Berman, who played Judge Ira, spoke with Hollywood.com at the film’s premiere about his time working with Barbra Streisand as one of her clients in the movie.

“Yes, wonderful sex tips,” Shelley joked when discussing Barbra’s character. “I turned out to be one of her top students.”

You can check out the premiere coverage here:

In Little Fockers, Greg Focker must balance raising his two children, working with a drug company, and suspicions from his father-in-law (Robert De Niro).

You can watch both movies on Amazon Prime.

Barbra Streisand movies: The Guilt Trip (2012)

Barbra Streisand’s most recent film is Anne Fletcher’s road comedy film The Guilt Trip. Barbra stars as Seth Rogan’s overbearing mother, Joyce. When Seth’s character Andy has the chance to go on a once-in-a-lifetime road trip, Joyce guilts him into letting her come along for the ride. The cast also includes Brett Cullen, Adam Scott, Ari Graynor, Casey Wilson, and Colin Hanks.  


Seth Rogan fondly recalled his time acting alongside Babra Streisand when speaking with The Scotsman in 2012:

“She reminded me of my own mother, although my mother is more like the hippy Barbra played in Meet The Fockers. My mom’s inappropriate at times and talks about sex way too much. She will post far too much information on her ­Facebook. But a whole generation of mothers model themselves on Barbra. She is the patient zero of ­Jewish mothers. And when we spend time together, we talked about movies, food, and the stuff I usually talk about.”

Check out the movie trailer below:

You can watch the movie on Amazon Prime.