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Actress/singer/director/writer/composer/producer/designer/author/photographer/activist Barbra Streisand is the only artist ever to receive Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Directors Guild of America, Golden Globe, National Medal of Arts and Peabody Awards and France’s Légion d'honneur as well as the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She is also the first female film director to receive the Kennedy Center Honors.
She won Oscars for both Best Actress (“Funny Girl”) and Best Original Song (for her composition of “Evergreen” which has since become a standard.) She also was nominated for Best Actress for “The Way We Were.” The three films she directed received 14 Oscar nominations.
An eight-time Grammy Award winner, she is the only performer to have number one albums in five consecutive decades. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, her 51 gold albums, 30 platinum and 18 multi-platinum exceed all other female singers. The RIAA also notes that her 72.5 million albums sales tops its list of album sales by a female singer. The debut at #1 of her “Love Is The Answer” album became her 9th record to reach that top spot.. Her most two most recent albums, “What Matters Most” and “Release Me,” became her 31st and 32nd to reach the Top Ten in the ratings charts. With that, she passed The Beatles (with whom she had been tied at 30) to become the third highest achiever in that significant statistic, exceeded only by the Rolling Stones and Frank Sinatra. She is the only female among the top ten album-selling recording artists. Her six most recent albums have all charted in the Top Ten on the Billboard chart.
Her civil rights activism and philanthropic pursuits are just as impressive. The Streisand Foundation has given millions of dollars in 2100 grants to non-profit organizations and she has raised many millions more through her performances.
The career of Barbra Streisand has been paved with bold, creative achievements and highlighted by a series of firsts.
For her first motion picture, "Funny Girl," she won the 1968 Academy Award for Best Actress, the first of two Oscars.
With “Yentl” (1983,”) her first film as a director, she became the first woman ever to produce, direct, write and star in a major motion picture. “Yentl,” earned five Oscar nominations and also brought her Golden Globes for both Best Director and Best Picture.
"The Prince of Tides," her next directorial feature, was the first motion picture directed by its female star ever to receive a Best Director nomination from the Directors Guild of America as well as seven Academy Award nominations. Barbra Streisand produced the heralded drama in addition to directing and starring in it.
She won the DGA award (Best Director Music/Variety Television Program) in 1994 for her television special, “Barbra Streisand: The Concert,” which she co-directed with Dwight Hemion.
For her very first Broadway appearance in "I Can Get It For You Wholesale," she won the New York Drama Critics Award and received a Tony nomination.
For her very first solo recording, “The Barbra Streisand Album," she won two 1963 Grammy Awards. One of these was for Best Female Vocal Performance. The other, Album of the Year; made her the youngest artist to have received that award.
She is the first female composer ever to win an Academy Award, this for her song, "Evergreen," the love theme from her 1976 hit film, "A Star Is Born." She was nominated again in 1997 as co-composer of "I Finally Found Someone," based on her love theme for her 1996 film as director/producer/star, "The Mirror Has Two Faces." The film achieved two Oscar nominations and the Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe for Lauren Bacall.
She is the recipient of five personal Emmy awards. Her first television special, “My Name Is Barbra” (1965,) received five Emmy Awards, including one for her for best performance,. as well as the distinguished Peabody Award, the first of two. This achievement was repeated 30 years later by "Barbra Streisand: The Concert" which won two additional Emmy awards for Ms. Streisand among the five for the production. That show also was accorded the Peabody Award, the Directors Guild of America award and three CableACE awards and it became the highest-rated musical event in HBO’s history. Her 2001 television concert special, “Barbra Streisand: Timeless. Live in Concert,” also co-directed by its star, won four more Emmys, including one for Ms. Streisand’s performance. She is also an Emmy recipient in 2001 for her Barwood Films’ documentary on pioneering women directors in the early decades of motion pictures, “Reel Models: The First Women of Film.”
DVD releases of her concerts have achieved notable recent firsts. In 2009 her three-disc offering, “Streisand The Concerts,” reigned in the #1 position on the Music DVD Billboard charts for three weeks. A year later, “One Night Only,” capturing her heralded performance at the Village Vanguard before an audience of one hundred lottery-picked fans and some of her notable friends, opened at #1 as well. Her 10 city, 12 performance North American concert tour rapidly was SRO and played to unmatched critical acclaim.
Her first book (as both author and photographer,) “My Passion For Design,” was critically acclaimed and debuted at Number Two on the New York Times bestseller lists. Recipient in 1995 of an Honorary Doctorate in Arts and Humanities from Brandeis University and an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2013, she has also received the National Medal of Arts from President Bill Clinton, was accorded The Humanitarian Award from the Human Rights Campaign and was honored by France when French President Nicolas Sarkozy presented her with his country’s Légion d'honneur.
The "actress who sings," as Streisand once termed herself, has repeatedly been at the top of the record sales charts. A detailed review of her achievements as a recording artist is provided at the end of this biography.
Ms. Streisand’s Barwood Films, through its TV arm, Barwood Television (in which she was partnered with Cis Corman,), has had award-winning success as well. In 1995, the same year as her “Barbra Streisand: The Concert" Emmy successes, “Serving In Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story," Barwood’s first television dramatic production, had six nominations and earned an additional three Emmy trophies, a total of eight Emmys for Ms. Streisand's company that year, and another Peabody Award in the process. The drama investigated military harassment of and repression of the civil rights of gays. It was acknowledged that the critically praised "Serving In Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story," would never have been realized on network television had not Barbra Streisand put her executive producing talents and considerable artistic and social-issue influence behind it.
Her Barwood Films has continued to place great emphasis on bringing to television dramatic explorations of pressing social, historic and political issues which would not otherwise be addressed in more widely viewed television movies. "Rescuers: Stories of Courage," a series of six two-part dramas on Showtime in 1997 and 1998 with great acclaim and wide viewership, pays tribute to non-Jews who heroically saved Jews from the Holocaust. The company’s 2001 telefilm, “Varian’s War,” told the story of an American Christian who got Jewish intellectuals out of occupied France. Barwood's "The Long Island Incident," which aired on NBC in May 1998, inspired a national debate on gun control with its true story of Carolyn McCarthy, a wife and mother who surmounted tragedy to win a seat in Congress after initiating a crusade to achieve sensible controls on guns.
Since resuming paid concert performance on December 31, 1993, Barbra Streisand has set a long list of records in that area as well. Following her sold-out 20 concert tour in the U.S. and Canada in 2006 and the follow-up nine concert 2007 tour of Europe, Ms. Streisand holds the house records in all 27 venues in which she has appeared in that period.