Barbra Streisand creates a star-making sensation in William Wyler’s fictionalized musical biopic of Fanny Brice in the 1968 film Funny Girl. Streisand’s Brice, who is a poor Jewish girl from New York’s Lower East Side, won audiences hearts over with her comedic genius and incredible singing voice in the Ziegfeld Follies. The film chronicles Brice’s life from stage-struck teenage girl to her flourishing career as a Ziegfeld Follies star to meeting and marrying the debonair, poker-playing Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif). The film soars when it highlights Brice’s time on stage- including classic musical numbers such as “People”, “Don’t Rain On My Parade”, “Sadie Sadie” and “Funny Girl.” However, the film, which was adapted by Isobel Lennart from her book from the stage musical of the same title, stumbles when it focuses on the relationship between Fanny and Nicky. For all of the amazing success Fanny experiences on stage, she ultimately encountered far less success in her doomed marriage to Nicky. The film is an absolute showpiece for Streisand and it earned her an Oscar (in a Best Actress tie with Katharine Hepburn for The Lion in Winter).
Funny Girl scored an impressive eight Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture) and it garnered one win (for Streisand’s unprecedented exact tie for Best Actress with Hepburn- the only one in Best Actress Oscar history). One of the film’s nominations went to Kay Medford, nominee, (168), for reprising her Broadway role as Rose Brice, Fanny’s supportive and common sense-delivering mother. Medford went up against 4 other outstanding nominees in the Best Supporting Actress race. When the envelope was opened, Ruth Gordon was announced as the winner for her eccentric turn as a devil worshipping next door neighbor in Rosemary’s Baby.