Before Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, and Cher stepped off the stage and onto the silver screen, Barbra Streisand did it and she did it with aplomb. Today, more people probably know Streisand as an actress, director, producer, and writer than as a recording artist. That’s a shame since she’s the best-selling female artist of all-time. She has moved more than 145 million albums worldwide. Streisand is the only female artist on the Recording Industry Association of America’s Top Selling Album Artists list. She’s also the only artist in the top ten and the only entry that’s not a rock and roller.
Babs could have sold millions and millions of Barbra Streisand tickets but she suffered stage fright for 27 years after forgetting lyrics during a performance at Central Park in New York City. Streisand has won eight Grammy Awards, two Academy Awards, and she’s received the Kennedy Center Honors. She’s one of the few people to have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. Besides being a legend of stage, screen, and the recording studio, Streisand is also a gay icon.
The legendary singer inadvertently created the social phenomenon that’s now known as “The Streisand Effect.” This is when the attempt to censor a piece of information publicizes it far more than it would have been publicized had it been left alone.
In 2003, Streisand tried to get a photograph of her Malibu home taken off the internet. Her home had been photographed as part of a project to document coastal erosion. Before Streisand got involved the photograph had been downloaded six times—and two of those downloads were by her lawyers. The fuss Streisand made got the media involved, and within a month the once neglected photo of her home had been seen by more than 420,000 people.
Streisand has been married twice. Her first husband was actor Elliot Gould. Together they had one child. Her current husband is actor James Brolin. Interestingly, Gould and Brolin starred in the 1977 thriller, Capricorn One.
Streisand was born “Barbara Joan Streisand” on April 24, 1942. She changed her first name to “Barbra” as a protest to impresarios who told her to ditch her last name. The diva never liked “Barbara” but thought changing it (at least more than she did) was phony.