Photo: Barbra Streisand
By Jessica Wheeler, Columnist
With more than 145 million records sold worldwide, Barbra Streisand is one of the most successful recording artists in music history. She is also an accomplished actress, with two Academy Awards. In honor of her upcoming Nov. 30 show at Tampa’s Amalie Arena, let’s take a look back at a career that spans six decades.
After a rough beginning couch surfing around New York City, trying to make it as an actress, Barbra decided to focus on singing instead. She performed in nightclubs, developing an act that included witty banter between songs. In 1962 she was cast in the hit Broadway musical I Can Get It For You Wholesale, and a star was born. She began to appear on the variety and sketch shows of the day, including The Tonight Show and the Ed Sullivan Show. In 1963, she released her first album, which made the Top 10. In 1964 she starred in Funny Girl on Broadway, which became one of her most famous roles. She starred in the film adaptation in 1968, winning the Oscar for Best Actress for her role. She finished the decade by starring in the film version of Hello, Dolly!
Barbra’s career really took off when she scored a string of pop hits in the 1970s, including “The Way We Were,” “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” and “Evergreen.” She starred in a series of successful films, including The Way We Were, A Star is Born, and What’s Up, Doc? She also established her own film production company, Barwood Films, laying the groundwork for the next few decades. Her outspoken political views landed her on Richard Nixon’s Enemies List.
Streisand wrote, produced, directed, and starred in 1983’s Yentl, a film that earned five Academy Award nominations. She was the first woman ever to fill all of these roles for a major studio film. In 1985 she returned to her roots with “The Broadway Album,” a No. 1 smash.
In 1994 she staged a concert tour that made her the highest-paid entertainer in music history to date. The HBO concert special remains the highest-rated concert special they have ever done. She duetted with everyone from Celine Dion to country star Vince Gill, and enjoyed her reputation as a living legend. She also produced, directed and starred in the highly successful films Prince of Tides and The Mirror Has Two Faces.
In 2000, Streisand announced that she would retire from touring, but changed her mind after five years, embarking on a record-setting tour in 2006. She also returned to acting, starring in Meet the Fockers as Ben Stiller’s mother.
2010 to Today
In 2012, Streisand gave her first-ever public performance in her home borough of Brooklyn, inaugurating the Barclays Center. In 2013 she performed in Tel Aviv. With the release of her album Partners in 2014, she became the only recording artist ever to have a No. 1 album in each of the last six decades. Her next project will be to produce and star in a new film version of Gypsy.
Jessica Wheeler is a music and culture columnist for AliveTampaBay.