Created on: February 12, 2013 Last Updated: February 26, 2013
Known for her striking profile and her haunting voice, Barbra Streisand managed to break down barriers in Hollywood. Although not a conventional beauty, Streisand refused to change to suit anyone else. Thanks to her many talents and her driving ambition, Streisand became one of the most recognizable and beloved faces in showbiz.
In 1942, Barbara Joan Streisand was born into a Jewish family in Brooklyn, the second child. Only fifteen months later, her father, Emanuel, died from health complications involving a seizure. When Streisand was seven years old, her mother remarried, helping pull the family back from the brink of poverty. Although the marriage was financially beneficial, Streisand did not get along well with her new stepfather, Louis Kind. To make matters worse, she struggled to fit in with her classmates. Her unique appearance and shyness held her back from forming close friendships. Instead, Streisand found an outlet in singing.
While attending both the Bais Yaakov School and Erasmus High School, Streisand was involved with performances and the school choir. As a teenager, she overcame her self-consciousness through song. She already knew that she wanted to pursue acting and commuted to New York City for classes. When she graduated at the age of sixteen, Streisand was not interested in college. Thanks to her appearances in Off-Off-Broadway productions, Streisand had the confidence to pursue a serious career in showbiz.
In 1960, Streisand's friend encouraged her to try singing at nightclubs. Her unforgettable voice soon won her local fans, and Streisand changed her first name to the more unique "Barbra." She became a regular performer at the Bon Soir, the Blue Angel, and other New York clubs, managing to overcome her stage fright by adopting a bold, flashy persona that was different from her true identity as a more reserved young woman from Brooklyn.
Throughout the early 1960s, Streisand performed in New York and beyond. She had an appearance on "The Tonight Show," plus became a recurring singer on a radio variety show. By 1962, her gorgeous soprano landed Streisand her first Broadway role. Her performance in "I Can Get it For You Wholesale" earned Streisand a Tony nomination and expanded her audience. After proving her bank-ability, Streisand signed with Columbia and began releasing albums. "The Barbra Streisand Album" resulted in two Grammy awards. It was by now clear that Streisand was a rising star.
After continuing to draw crowds as a Broadway star,
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