Illustration by Art Seiden

Jewish Heroes and Heroines in America

World War II to the Present:


Barbra Streisand: Concert Star, Actress, Director & Producer of Movies

by Seymour "Sy" Brody

Barbra Streisand, a superstar with many talents, by the age of twenty, was a Broadway star. During the years, she has enjoyed success as a concert star, actress, writer, director and producer receiving many awards for her work.

She was born on April 24, 1942, in Brooklyn, New York, to Diana and Emanuel Streisand, who was a high school English teacher. Unfortunately, he died when Barbra was fifteen months old. Her mother maintained a kosher home and she went to a Jewish religious school. After graduating Erasmus High School, Brooklyn, with high honors, Barbra Streisand began her career, singing in Greenwich Village bars and clubs.

David Merrick, a Broadway producer, saw her performing at the Blue Angel, a nightclub, and he immediately signed her to play Miss Marmelstein in I Can Get It for You Wholesale. While the show lasted nine months, Barbra Streisand became an instant star, who was in demand for many roles. In 1964, Barbra Streisand accepted the starring role of Fanny Brice in Fanny Girl which became one of the most successful musicals in the theater. She won an Oscar for the film version of Funny Girl.

Two contemporary songs, People and Don't Rain on My Parade, became her signature songs which sold millions of records. She had many Gold Record Albums selling over a million: People, 1965; My Name is Barbra, 1965; Color Me Barbra; 1966, Stoney End, 1971; The Way We Were, 1974; A Star is Born, 1976; Superman, 1977; and the list goes on.

Her films after Funny Girl included Hello Dolly, 1969; On A Clear Day, You Can See Forever, 1970; The Owl and the Pussycat, 1970; What's Up Doc, 1972; Up the Sandbox, 1972; The Way We Were, 1973; For Pete's Sake, 1974; Funny Lady, 1975; A Star Is Born, which she co-produced, 1976; The Main Event, 1978; All Night Long, 1981; Yentl, which she directed, co-wrote and co-produced, 1983; Nuts, 1987; The Prince of Tides, 1991, which won seven Oscar nominations and was directed and co-produced by Barbra Streisand.

Streisand traveled abroad and at home with her successful concert tours attracting capacity audiences. Her T.V. recordings of the concerts expanded the attendance which brought her closer to her audiences.

Barbra Streisand was married to Elliott Gould, actor, and they had a son, Jason. They were divorced, but both were involved in the raising of their son. When it came time for Jason's bar mitzvah, they decided to have it in the small orthodox synagogue in Venice, California.

She had recently become involved again with her religion which gave her great comfort and security.

Streisand donated $50,000 in 1981 for the funding at the UCLA Hillel of a Streisand Center for Jewish Cultural Arts which will sponsor a performance by a well known personality in the arts each year.

Barbra Streisand has been very outspoken on women's rights, abortion, aids research, sexism and women's abuse. She established The Streisand Foundation which is committed to women's rights, civil liberties and environmental protection. She received many awards and recognition not only for her artistry but for her contributions to society.

Being a superstar is demanding on a person for their performance and emotional being. Barbra Streisand has demonstrated over the years that you can be a superstar and a "mensch" at the same time if you are concerned about people.

This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included in Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.

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