Happy Birthday Barbra Streisand: Celebrating the Iconic Actress, Singer

by Jennifer Shea

Barbra Streisand turns 79 today, and the iconic singer, movie star, director and producer has already accomplished so much in her life.

With 42 Grammy nominations and 8 Grammy Award wins behind her, plus five Oscar nods and four Emmys, Streisand has enjoyed quite an illustrious career in the performing arts. She also won a Tony Award for Star of the Year.

Streisand grew up without a father, an early loss that shaped her later life but did not hold her back from attaining success. Her late father was a high school English teacher who passed away at age 35, while Streisand was still an infant.

Barbra Streisand Shot to Fame With Signature Voice

The performer was born Barbara Joan Streisand in Brooklyn, New York. She originally wanted to be a dramatic actress, and began studying acting when she was in high school, according to Britannica.com.

Streisand became Barbra Streisand in 1960, after winning a small talent contest in Manhattan. Streisand’s natural gift for singing soon landed her singing engagements in various Greenwich Village cabarets. Before long, she got a small part in the Broadway musical “I Can Get It for You Wholesale.” Her performance in that 1962 production catapulted her onto TV shows, including “The Judy Garland Show.”

Meanwhile, Streisand began releasing albums that featured lively covers of popular songs of the time. Her debut solo album, The Barbra Streisand Album, won two Grammy Awards. And by 1964, Streisand was a Broadway star, appearing in the musical “Funny Girl.”

She would go on to appear in multiple film musicals, including “Hello, Dolly!” and “A Star Is Born,” throughout the 1960s and ’70s. And she starred in the 1973 classic “The Way We Were” opposite Robert Redford.

In 1983, Streisand took on directing with “Yentl,” in which she also starred. She co-wrote and co-produced, as well. Streisand had reportedly wanted to play that role since 1968. After “Yentl,” she directed “The Prince of Tides” and “The Mirror Has Two Faces.”

Star Mixes Independence And Vulnerability

Over time, Barbra Streisand became known for playing strong female leads who have a vulnerable side to them – not unlike the star herself.

“I still think I’m like most creative people are — confident at times and insecure at times,” Streisand told the New York Times Style Magazine in 2020. “I don’t know if that ever goes away.”

Streisand believes she is “much more grounded” now than she was in her salad days. But that early brashness has faded a bit. “I think I had more of that when I was young,” she told the Times.

Among her other accomplishments, Streisand has also helped to endow the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and launched the Women’s Heart Alliance to advance research on heart disease in women.