Claim to Fame: It’s not just that Barbara Streisand is the top-selling female artist in history. Or that she earned an Oscar for her movie debut (Funny Girl). Or that she was the first woman to cowrite, direct, produce and star in her own film (Yentl). Or that she can sell out a huge arena in a matter of minutes (e.g., her high-priced Millennium Eve show in Las Vegas). As her legions of devoted fans can attest, there’s just something about Babs.
Why She Matters: Streisand’s lasting contribution involves more than just her remarkable singing technique, her comedic and dramatic acting talents and her command of the American pop song. She brings a unique Brooklyn sensibility to the American mainstream. Refusing to change her eyes, nose or accent, she is adamantly non-Aryan and eminently glamorous.
Postscript: Love her or hate her, she’s a force to be reckoned with. Everybody has an opinion on Babs–from Bill Clinton to James Brolin. Just ask Mike Myers, whose Linda Richman character declared Streisand’s voice to be “like buttah”–the highest accolade a fat-free society could assign. Oy!
The Last Word: Streisand as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl:
“Some ain’t got it–not a lump.
I’m a great big clump of talent.”