Entertainment Music Barbra Streisand's Life in Photos Barbra Streisand is one of the most successful and accomplished people ever to work in show business, achieving unparalleled success in her field before she even turned 25 — and then going on to have decades more of record-smashing, trailblazing milestones in music, movies and theater. For her 81st birthday, look back at her legendary life and career By Alex Apatoff Published on April 24, 2022 08:30 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Trending Videos 01 of 22 Barbra Streisand's Childhood Alamy A star was born Barbara Joan Streisand (she'd later change the spelling) on April 24, 1942, to parents Diana and Emanuel Streisand in Brooklyn, New York. Tragedy struck when Emanuel died of a cerebral hemorrhage when she was just 15 months old; Diana moved Barbra and her brother Sheldon in with her parents to help raise her kids while she worked as a bookkeeper. 02 of 22 Barbra Streisand's Adolescence ARCHIVIO GBB/Alamy The star did not have a particularly happy childhood, saying in one interview that she was somewhat of an unsupervised "wild child" and was often picked on by her classmates and stepfather for being plain. But joining the Erasmus High School choral society gave her an opportunity to exercise her talent, and right after high school she headed to Manhattan, determined to make it on Broadway. 03 of 22 Barbra Streisand's Early Career Underwood Archives/Getty After gaining some early success as a singer in New York nightclubs, she broke through with her first role in I Can Get it For You Wholesale in 1962. She got attention for the role that landed her appearances on evening talk shows and her debut album, The Barbra Streisand Album, which won three Grammys. 04 of 22 Barbra Streisand's Duet with Judy Garland Archive Photos/Getty The actress was a popular guest almost immediately, logging legendary appearances including this "Get Happy/Happy Days" duet with Judy Garland from the latter's self-titled show in 1963. "Such a special moment in my career," Streisand recalled on Instagram. "She was incredible. Totally unique. Just been reminded this aired 56 years ago today on CBS. I was 21, and Judy was 41. 05 of 22 Barbra Streisand's Marriage to Elliott Gould Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Streisand and Gould met on the set of I Can Get it for You Wholesale and married in Carson City, Nevada in 1963. The two welcomed a son, Jason, in 1966, but by 1969 they had separated, culminating in divorce in 1971. Later, Gould reflected that his wife's skyrocketing success made it difficult for the two of them to grow together; Streisand agreed in a 1970 interview with Time. "It must have been very difficult for him," she said. "Marriages between people who are self-involved is hard. It's safer for actors not to be married to one another." 06 of 22 Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl Silver Screen Collection/Getty Though her star turn as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl is indelibly associated with her, she almost got fired from the 1964 Broadway production in its early days. She persisted and the show opened to rave reviews; it led to her signing a three-film deal for movies based on Funny Girl, Hello, Dolly! and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. 07 of 22 Barbra Streisand Meets John F. Kennedy, Jr. National Archive/Newsmakers "I never ask for autographs... but I made an exception when I met President John F. Kennedy in 1963," Streisand wrote in a throwback Instagram post. 08 of 22 Barbra Streisand Films Funny Girl Columbia Pictures/Getty Funny Girl was her first Hollywood film and it was a smash hit, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1968 with eight Oscar nominations to its name (including a Best Actress win for Streisand, seen here with her onscreen love interest Omar Sharif). 09 of 22 Barbra Streisand Wins an Oscar Bettmann/Getty The star won her first Academy Award wearing a polarizing sheer sequin pantsuit by Arnold Scaasi that has since become iconic. "I had no idea that when the lights hit that outfit, it would become transparent!" she told W Magazine. "I wanted a white collar and cuffs, which it had, and I wore my hair under my chin, because I thought to myself, I'm going to win two Oscars in my lifetime, and I'll be more conservative next time." She would be nominated for four more Oscars and would win one more, for Best Song for "Evergreen." She has amassed countless other awards, making her one of the few stars to earn an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony). 10 of 22 Barbra Streisand as a Mother Stanley Bielecki Movie The star reveled in her role as a parent to son Jason, often bringing him to work (he's pictured here with her on the set of Hello, Dolly!). "It's a miracle, the height of creativity for any woman," Streisand told Ladies' Home Journal of motherhood. She often posts loving tributes to her son on Instagram. 11 of 22 Barbra Streisand's Relationship with Jon Peters Tom Wargacki/WireImage After her divorce from Gould, Streisand began dating producer Jon Peters, and they were together for nearly a decade. After their split, she dated other high-profile men (including Clint Eastwood, Andre Agassi and Don Johnson) throughout the '80s and early '90s. 12 of 22 Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were Everett People swooned for the onscreen romance with her costar Robert Redford in this 1973 hit. 13 of 22 Barbra Streisand in A Star Is Born Ron Galella Collection/Getty She had another massive success with her 1976 turn in A Star Is Born opposite Kris Kristofferson (pictured). She composed the love theme to the film, "Evergreen," which won her an Oscar and hit No.1 on the charts. 14 of 22 Barbra Streisand in Concert Tony Korody/Sygma/Sygma/Getty In addition to her successful work as an actress, Streisand had incredible success with her recording and performing careers — so it was no surprise that people turned out by the thousands to watch her perform in concert in what ended up being used as a crowd scene for A Star Is Born. 15 of 22 Barbra Streisand Directs Yentl Hulton Archive/Getty In 1983, the star (pictured with the film's stars Mandy Patinkin and Amy Irving) became the first woman to write, produce, direct, and star in a major studio film. She also became the first woman to win a Golden Globe for directing (and the only one for more than 30 years after that). 16 of 22 Barbra Streisand Wins a Grammy CBS/Getty Nominated for 43 Grammys and having won eight (she's seen here accepting Best Female Vocal Pop Performance for 1986's The Broadway Album), the star has also taken home honors including the Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. 17 of 22 Barbra Streisand Marries James Brolin After being set up at a dinner party in 1996, the singer and the actor hit it off and wed two years later. Streisand serenaded her groom with two new love songs, and he returned the favor with a sweet toast: "I can't tell you how lucky I am that this would happen to me so late in life. Every night is a new adventure. Sleeping is a waste of time. I can't wait to see her again in the morning." 18 of 22 Barbra Streisand Wins a Kennedy Center Honor Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty In 2008, Streisand (alongside Morgan Freeman, country singer George Jones, dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp and musicians Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of The Who) received a Kennedy Center award from then-President George W. Bush for her contributions to the performing arts. 19 of 22 Barbra Streisand's Family Streisand with (from left), husband James Brolin, Josh Brolin, Trevor Brolin, and her son Jason Gould. Kevin Mazur/WireImage In addition to her son Jason (far right), Barbra is a stepmother to Brolin's three children Josh (second from right), Molly and Jess, and a grandmother to Josh's four children (including Trevor, center). The family is pictured here at a 2006 concert. 20 of 22 Barbra Streisand's Dogs Barbra Streisand/Instagram The star is also an avowed animal lover who was so devoted to her Coton du Tulear dog Samantha that she had Samantha cloned after her death in 2017. In 2018 she shared a photo of her three dogs, Fanny and the clones Violet and Scarlet, visiting Samantha's grave. She more recently shared a playful photo with the pups and their many stuffed lookalikes inside her home. 21 of 22 Barbra Streisand's Philanthropy Brandon Clark/ABImages/AP The star is an outspoken political activist and a passionate advocate for many causes, including women's heart health. She started the Women's Heart Alliance in 2004 and now has her name on the heart research center at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles. 22 of 22 Barbra Streisand as a Grandmother barbrastreisand/Instagram The star, who says she's happiest as a homebody, revels in her role as grandparent, especially to stepson Josh Brolin's two youngest children, Westlyn and Chapel. "One of Jason's first words was "hat" — and now it's one of Westlyn's first words too! 💛" she wrote on Instagram of this sweet moment.