Happy Birthday, Barbra Streisand! Five Fabulous Facts About The Legendary Diva

Barbra Streisand, by any measure, is one of the most celebrated and successful entertainers of the past century. Her list of awards alone attests to her status as a living legend. Streisand has collected two Oscars, eight Grammys, a Tony Award, five Emmys and a lengthy list of other honors. She first appeared on TV in 1961 on The Tonight Show, then hosted by Jack Paar, and most recently, she co-starred with Seth Rogen in the 2012 comedy The Guilt Trip.

With 51 gold albums, 30 platinum albums and 18 multi-platinum albums, it’s difficult to imagine that anyone will ever duplicate the career that Barbra Streisand has enjoyed — and she’s still going strong, celebrating her 72nd birthday today, April 24.

While it’s difficult to select just five facts out of the epic story of Barbra Streisand, we’ll do our best to try.

Barbra Streisand Has Suffered From Stage Fright For Her Whole Career

Streisand has long been forced to face extreme anxiety before performing, a condition that has never gone away, even as her career has soared to extraordinary heights. Her biographer described the source of her stage fright as “the twin demons in her life: an audience that demanded almost more than she had to give and the close friends and loved ones whom she privately feared she had failed.”

In 2006 she told Oprah Winfrey in an interview that she took anti-anxiety medicine before going on stage to control her nerves. At least some of he stage fright may go back to a concert she gave in New York’s Central Park in 1967, when she forgot the lyrics to a song. Streisand refused to perform live for 27 years due to her stage fright. Since then she has read her lyrics off of teleprompters during live concerts.

Barbra Had The Second “A” Legally Removed From Her Name

Streisand was born Barbara Joan Streisand in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Diana (Rosen) Streisand and Emmanuel Streisand — her father, who died when young Barbara was just 15 months old. When she was beginning her singing career as a teenager, she came to believe that she needed a new name — but at the same time, felt “false” about changing the name she was born with.

“I was 18 and I wanted to be unique, but I didn’t want to change my name because that was too false,” she explained. “You know, people were saying you could be Joanie Sands, or something like that. And I said, ‘No, let’s see, if I take out the ‘a,’ it’s still ‘Barbara,’ but it’s unique.”

Streisand Was On President Richard Nixon’s Notorious “Enemies List”

During the Watergate scandal in 1974, a former aide to President Richard Nixon, John Dean, revealed that he, Nixon and some other aides put together a list of Nixon’s “political enemies.” The plan was for all of these “enemies” to be “screwed,” through various forms of subterfuge.

The list contained the names of numerous celebrities, including Barbra Streisand. But Streisand was not intimidated and has continued to support the type of liberal causes that got her on the “enemies list” ever since, giving sizable donations to groups such as People for the American Way, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and Media Matters among others.

Barbra Streisand Has Been Married Twice, Both To Well-Known Actors

Barbra Streisand’s first husband went on to become one of most successful actors of the 1970s, but when Streisand met Elliot Gould, he was just another struggling actor trying to make it in show business. They wed in 1963 when Barbra was 21 and Gould was 25. They had one child, Jason Gould. But the marriage to Gould ended in 1971, after Gould was becoming a star in such films as Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and the 1970 Robert Altman classic M*A*S*H.

Barbra Streisand with first husband Elliot Gould.

Streisand remained single, though she had a few high-profile relationships, until 1998 when she married actor James Brolin — becoming stepmother to actor Josh Brolin.

Barbra Streisand Has Directed Three Hollywood Feature Films

In 1968, shortly after completing her first film, Funny Girl, Streisand read the short story “Yentl, The Yeshiva Boy” by Isaac Bashevis Singer. She decided that she wanted to not only star in the film version, but direct as well. She did — 15 years later.

Barbra Streisand in Yentl, the first film she also directed.

She next directed the film Prince of Tides in 1991 and The Mirror Has Two Faces in 1996. But her work on Yentl in 1983, which for its day had a large budget of $15 million, helped pave the way for many women directors in Hollywood who followed her.

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