Barbra Streisand celebrates the Golden Anniversary of Funny Girl

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Ms. Streisand was just 21 when she stole the show on its debut at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway.

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Barbra Streisand had been already a star of considerable promise  when at the age of just 21 she stepped out on the stage of the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway on March 26th, 1964 in the role of Fanny Brice in the musical Funny Girl. At the end of its debut performance, the show reportedly received a lengthy standing ovation as well as 23 curtain calls.

Funny Girl, directed by Garson Kanin, was based on the life and career of real-life film star and comedienne Fanny Brice and in particular her stormy relationship with entrepreneur and inveterate gambler Nick Arnstein during the early years of the 1920s. In the first years of the production Sydney Chaplin, nephew of Charlie Chaplin took the role of Nick Arnstein.

Other members of the original cast of Funny Girl were Kay Medford, Danny Meehan, Jean Stapleton and Lainie Kazan, who also filled in  as Ms. Streisand’s understudy. During its  three-year run  Barbra stepped down from the role of Fanny Brice to be replaced by Mimi Hines with the show itself transferring originally to the Majestic Theatre and later The Broadway Theatre, where it finally made its last performance on July 1, 1967 after completing a run 1, 348 performances.

Barbara was to return to the role of Fanny Brice in the 1966 production at the Prince of Wales Theatre in the West End  of London, and once again for the big screen in 1968 for which she won an Oscar.

Elliott's Funny Girl

American actress and singer Barbra Streisand receives a kiss from her husband, actor Elliott Gould, on her opening night in ‘Funny Girl’  / Getty

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Funny Girl, the  Capitol/UMe record label is due to release a Deluxe Edition Gold-certified Funny Girl: Original Broadway Cast Recording boxed set with a digitally remastered CD and vinyl LP. Along with the LP capital will also be throwing in a 48-page book, containing exclusive photos from the production as well as a new essay by Jay Landers, Ms. Streisand’s  longtime A&R executive.

According to history, the original Broadway Cast Recording Funny Girl’s album was recorded in one session, when  the show was just 10 days into its marathon run, with the album reaching the top spot  on the Billboard 200 albums chart, he’s out by The Beatles’ Second Album (also released by Capitol). Especially noteworthy  was Barbra Streisand’s rendition of “People” which became and has remained  a classic. The Funny Girl album was a recipient of the 196e Grammy  Award for Best Original Cast Album.

Barbra Streisand is also due to feature on one of eight special  covers of  a New York Magazine due to hit the newsstands sometime this month, recognizing 100 years of music in New York City. Other artists who will appear on the magazine covers include Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Madonna, Frank Sinatra and Lou Reed.

Barbra Streisand is the only artist ever to receive an Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, , Golden Globe , National Medal of Arts, and Peabody Awards as well as an  American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

In addition, Streisand is  the only person to have been awarded an  Oscar  in the acting and songwriting categories, with the three films that she directed taking up a total of 14 Oscar  nominations.

Barbra Streisand is the only recording artist to have number one albums in five consecutive decades, with her  most recent album, What Matters Most, and Release Me became her 32nd to reach the Top Ten in the charts, overtaking  The Beatles to become the third highest achiever , with only  the Rolling Stones and Frank Sinatra in front.

Ms Streisand is also very active in the philanthropic world with the Streisand Foundation having donated millions of dollars to more than 700 non-profit organizations since its founding. In particular, the Foundation has provided substantial funding for the Cedars-Sinai Barbra Streisand Women’s Cardiovascular Research and Education Program, which addresses the leading cause of death among women in the United States. Barbra Streisand generous support and dedication into cardiovascular research was recognized by the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors for her unstinting efforts on behalf of the  Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars Sinai Hospital.

Streisand donated funds to allow the construction  of the Emanuel Streisand Building for Jewish Studies to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1984. The building which is situated on the Mount Scopus campus, is named in honor of our of her  late father, an educator and scholar who passed away while Barbara was still a young woman.

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