Musical Matinees: Funny Girl
"Hello, gorgeous!" was Barbra Streisand's first comment to the Oscar statuette which she won for her performance in this biopic of entertainer Fanny Brice. This is also her first line in the film itself, the catalyst for a movie-long flashback. Repeating her Broadway role, Streisand stars as legendary comedienne Brice (1891-1951), whose life until the mid-1920s is romanticized herein. A gawky New Yawker, Brice fast-talks her way into show business, certain that she's destined to be "The Greatest Star." Hired as a "dramatic" singer by impresario Flo Ziegfeld (Walter Pidgeon), Brice defies orders to play it straight, turning a "Beautiful Bride" tableau into a laugh riot by dressing herself up as an extremely pregnant newlywed. The stratagem turns Brice into an overnight star and the toast of Broadway. But all is not roses for Brice, especially in her turbulent private life as the wife of big-time gambler Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif). Nicky at first finds it amusing to be referred to as "Mr. Brice," but he begins to resent his wife's fame and fortune and starts taking foolish risks with other people's money.
The film was nominated for 8 Oscars, including Best Picture and Kay Medford for her portrayal of Brice's mother, Rose. Funny Girl was produced by Ray Stark, Brice's real-life son-in-law, who had enough material left over for a sequel, 1975's Funny Lady.