Biography

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.  In 2015, President Barack Obama presented her with the highest civilian honor the United States bestows, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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 was also nominated for Best Actress for “The Way We Were.” The three films she directed received 14 Oscar nominations and 13 Golden Globe nominations. Her recordings have earned her 10 Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement and Legend Awards.

She is the only recording artist or group to achieve #1 albums in 6 consecutive decades. She has a total of 11 #1 albums.  Her last two studio albums, the 2016 Grammy-nominated Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway and her Grammy-nominated 2014 Partners, entered the Billboard 200 at No. 1. She holds the record for the longest span of #1 albums in history – over 52 years.

Billboard Magazine sums up Streisand’s recording achievements as follows:

“BARBRA STREISAND MAKES HISTORY WITH PARTNERS” – Ms. Streisand is the best-selling female recording artist in history. She is the only woman to make the All-Time Top 10 Best Selling Artists list. She first landed at the top of the chart in October 1964 with her People album.

With the Grammy-nominated Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway having become Ms. Streisand’s 34th album to enter the Top 10 on the US charts, Streisand has moved from a tie with Frank Sinata into sole possession of the number two spot in that category. Only the Rolling Stones are ahead of her. With 11 #1 albums and 34 Top 10 placements, Streisand has now widened her lead over all female artists in those significant Billboard chart categories .  Billboard also notes her 11 #1 Albums now tie her at 3rd with Bruce Springsteen. They are preceded only by The Beatles with 19 and Jay Z with 13.  Moreover, with Partners increasing her number of Top 10 albums, she is tied with Frank Sinatra in that category, with only The Rolling Stones ahead.

Within the first few months of its release, Partners sold over one million CDs, becoming her 52nd Gold Record and 31st Platinum, widening her lead over all other female artists. In addition, she has recorded 13 multi-platinum albums.

In the sixth decade of her career, Barbra Streisand maintains her unfailing popularity and relevance.  Her successful 2016 concert tour, The Music… The Mem’ries… The Magic! broke all box office attendance rexords and resulted in the global success of her Netflix concert special. 

Barbra Streisand’s civil rights activism and philanthropic pursuits are just as impressive as her album sale statistics. THE STREISAND FOUNDATION has given millions of dollars in grants to over 2100 non-profit organizations. She has donated many millions more from her live performances.

Barbra Streisand’s career 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 1983’s Yentl, her first film as a director, she became the first woman to produce, direct, write and star in a major motion picture. Yentl earned 5 Oscar nominations and also earned her Golden Globes for both Best Director and Best Picture.

The Prince of Tides, her next directorial feature in 1991, was the first motion picture directed by its female star to ever receive a Best Director nomination from the Directors Guild of America as well as 7 Academy Award nominations. Streisand also produced the heralded drama. 

In 1994, she was the first woman to win the DGA award (Best Director Music/Variety Television Program) 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 for Best Female Vocal Performance and for Album of the Year. At the time, she was the youngest artist to win that award. 

For “Evergreen,” the love theme from her 1976 hit film, A Star Is Born, she became the first female composer to win a Best Song Academy Award.  She was nominated again in 1997 as co-composer of “I Finally Found Someone,” based on her love theme for her 1996 film The Mirror Has Two Faces, which she directed, produced and starred. The film was nominated for two Oscars, and co-star Lauren Bacall won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.

She is the recipient of 5 personal Emmy Awards. Her first television special, My Name Is Barbra (1965), received 5 Emmy Awards, including one for her Best Performance, as well as the distinguished Peabody Award, the first of two. This achievement was repeated 30 years later with Barbra: The Concert, which won 2 additional Emmy Awards for Ms. Streisand, among the 5 for the production. That show was also accorded the Peabody Award, the Directors Guild of America Award and three CableACE Awards. It became the highest-rated musical event in HBO’s history. Her 2001 television concert special, Timeless. Live in Concert, also co-directed by its star, won 4 more Emmys, including one for Ms. Streisand’s performance. She is also a 2001 Emmy recipient 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, Barbra Streisand – The Concerts, held the #1 position on the Billboard’s Music DVD charts for 3 weeks. A year later, One Night Only, capturing her heralded performance at the Village Vanguard before an audience of 100 lottery-picked fans and some of her notable friends, opened at #1 as well. Her sold out 2012 10-city North American concert tour garnered unmatched critical acclaim.

Her first book, as both author and photographer, My Passion For Design, was critically acclaimed and debuted at Number 2 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, Streisand has also received the National Medal of Arts from President Bill Clinton; The Humanitarian Award  from the Human Rights Campaign, and France’s Légion d’honneur, presented by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

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, Serving In Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story, Barwood’s television dramatic production, won 3 Emmy awards, and was nominated for an additional 3. The story investigated the military harassment and civil rights repression of gays in the military. It was acknowledged that the critically praised production wouldn’t have been realized on network television had Barbra Streisand not put her executive producing talents and considerable artistic and social-issue influence behind it.

Barwood Films has continued to place great emphasis on producing dramatic television explorations of pressing social, historical and political issues. Rescuers: Stories of Courage, a highly acclaimed series of 6 two-part dramas on Showtime, in 1997 and 1998, 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 secretly transported 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. It chronicled the 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 gun control laws. 

Since her return to the concert stage on December 31, 1993, Barbra Streisand has since set a long list of attendance records. 

Virtually every aspect of Barbra Streisand’s 1994 concert tour was record setting. Those twenty-six appearances were her first paid concerts in nearly three decades, all intervening concerts since 1966 had been fund-raisers for various social or political causes. The tour initiated with the celebrated 1994 New Year’s performances at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas and continued to set attendance and box-office records with immediate sellouts in London, Washington D.C., Southern California, Detroit, San Jose, and New York’s Madison Square Garden. Over 5 million phone requests were recorded in the first hour when tickets for the first American leg of the tour went on sale. The tour also generated over $10.25 million for charities the artist supports, channeling money to significant causes in each locale. Reflecting Streisand’s social concerns, over $3 million went to AIDS organizations, with other gifts addressing such urgencies as women and children in jeopardy, Jewish/Arab relations and agencies working to ameliorate relations between African-Americans and Jews.

Ms. Streisand’s Millennium New Year’s Eve concert, Timeless, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, December 31, 1999, set an all-time Ticket Master record for one-day sales of a single event, virtually selling out in the first few hours of sale eight months before the performance. The New Year’s concert was widely covered as one of the key events of the worldwide millennium celebration.

Her two-night Madison Square Garden engagement in September 2000, and two preceding Los Angeles live appearances at Staples Center, also were record-setting successes. Similarly her second national concert tour in the Fall of 2006, received rave reviews and broke the house records in all 16 of the cities in which she had not already set the venue record. The tour, Streisand – Live In Concert 2006, was recorded in three sites, also became a top-selling album release. In 2007, the tour continued with performances in Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Ireland. A designated portion of the proceeds were again directed to charities through The Streisand Foundation.

Barbra Streisand’s home video releases have created records of their own, 9 having been certified gold, 6 platinum and 3 multi-platinum. Barbra Streisand: The Concert, became a quadruple-platinum home video as well as a triple-platinum 2-CD release (exceptionally rare for a multi-disc set). Most recently, in 2009 her three-DVD disc offering, Streisand The Concerts, held the #1 position on the Music DVD Billboard charts for three weeks. Her 2010 DVD One Night Only – Barbra Streisand At The Village Vanguard, which also debuted at #1. The home video/DVD of the Timeless concert was gold and platinum as well, with 6 other home videos also being certified gold. In 2004, Barbra Streisand – Live at the MGM Grand was released on DVD, and was quickly certified platinum. In November 2005, the 5-DVD Barbra Streisand- The Television Specials was certified quintuple (5x) platinum, within 6 weeks. The DVD release of her 1986 One Voice concert was also certified platinum.

The filmmaker/entertainer was born Barbara Joan Streisand on April 24th in Brooklyn to Diana and Emanuel Streisand. Her father, who passed away when Barbra was 15 months old, was a highly respected teacher and scholar.

An honor student at Brooklyn’s Erasmus High School, the teenage Streisand plunged, unassisted and without encouragement, into show business by winning a singing contest at a small Manhattan club. She developed a devout and growing following at different clubs which began hiring her, and was soon attracting music industry attention at such night spots as the Bon Soir and the Blue Angel.

Streisand signed a contract with Columbia Records in 1962, and her debut album quickly became the nation’s top-selling record by a female vocalist.

Following her award-winning stage debut in the musical I Can Get It For You Wholesale, she was signed to play the great comedienne Fanny Brice in the Broadway musical Funny Girl. When the curtain came down at the Winter Garden Theatre on March 26, 1964, Streisand had become a certified superstar. Her distinctly original musical-comedy performance won her a second Tony award nomination.

She soon signed a 10-year contract with CBS Television to produce and star in TV specials. The contract gave her complete artistic control, an unheard of concession to an artist so young and new to the medium. The first special, My Name Is Barbra, earned 5 Emmy Awards, and the following 5 shows, including the memorable Color Me Barbra, earned the highest critical praise and audience ratings.

In 1966, Streisand repeated her Funny Girl triumph in London at the Prince of Wales Theatre. London critics voted her the Best Female lead in a Musical for that season.

Few movie debuts have been as auspicious as Streisand’s in Columbia Pictures’ Funny Girl. In addition to winning the 1968 Academy Award for this performance, she won the Golden Globe and was named Star of the Year by the National Association of Theatre Owners.

After appearing in the films Hello, Dolly! and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, she starred in the non-musical comedy The Owl and the Pussycat, released in 1970. The following year, 1972 brought another resounding comedy hit, What’s Up Doc?, followed by Up the Sandbox, one of the first American films to deal with the growing women’s movement. It was the premiere picture for her own production company, Barwood Films.

The memorable motion picture The Way We Were brought her a 1973 Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. A Star Is Born, released in 1976, was the first movie to benefit from her energy and insight as a producer and won six Golden Globes. The soundtrack album topped the charts and has been certified quadruple-platinum.

When Streisand read the short story Yentl, The Yeshiva Boy, she’d hoped to make it her second film. However, it took 15 years of development and persistence before the dream came true.

Yentl, a romantic drama with music, is about a courageous woman who discovers that nothing is impossible in matters of the heart and mind. It is a movie that celebrates women trying to fulfill their capabilities, not allowing traditional restrictions to deter them. The film also was the first big budget project ($15 million) which was instrumental in opening doors to women in film on a higher professional level. Streisand’s directorial debut received 5 Academy Award nominations in 1983. She received Golden Globe Awards both as Best Director and as producer of the Best Picture (musical or comedy) of that year. The 10 Golden Globes she has received throughout her career are the most achieved by any entertainment artist. In January 2000 she received that organization’s coveted Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement.

Her follow-up film to Yentl was Nuts, the unusual story of a smart woman shaped into an angry, anti-social character because of her childhood experiences. In addition to starring, Streisand produced and wrote the music for the powerful drama released in 1987.

Her second creation as a film director, The Prince of Tides, concerning the consequences of childhood traumas by exploring family relationships, achieved 7 Academy Award nominations and a nomination for her direction from the Directors Guild of America, making her only the third woman ever so honored. Referring to The Prince of Tides, Streisand explains “It’s about how love and compassion can heal and liberate the soul. I’m interested in telling stories about positive transformations and the potential for human growth.”

After working with her for two weeks, the book’s author, Pat Conroy, gave Streisand a copy of his novel with the inscription: “To Barbra Streisand: The Queen of Tides…you are many things, Barbra, but you’re also a great teacher…one of the greatest to come into my life. I honor the great teachers and they live in my work and they dance invisibly in the margins of my prose. You’ve honored me by taking care of it with such great seriousness and love. Great thanks, and I’ll never forget that you gave ‘The Prince of Tides’ back to me as a gift. Pat Conroy.”

In 2004, Barbra Streisand returned to film acting (her first performance on film since The Mirror Has Two Faces) in Meet The Fockers, a comedy which teamed her with Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro. It quickly became the highest grossing live-action comedy film ever, the first to earn more that a half billion dollars. The DVD had similar success, selling three million copies in its first 24 hours.

Like the true renaissance woman Barbra Streisand is, her life and her art are dedicated to the humanities as reflected by The Streisand Foundation, which is committed to gaining women’s equality, the protection of both human rights and civil rights, the needs of children at risk in society, women’s health and the preservation of the environment. Through The Streisand Foundation, she directly funded the United States Environmental Defense Fund’s research and participation in the Global Warming world summit conference in Kyoto. Her environmental dedication is also reflected in her donation to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy of the five-home, 24-acre Malibu estate on which her One Voice concert had been performed. The site has been dedicated as a center for ecological studies.

Her fall 2006 16-city tour was undertaken in large part to enable her to direct many millions of dollars to The Streisand Foundation to fund urgent efforts in three areas; environmental (with special emphasis on addressing global warming,) education and women’s health issues. Eleven million dollars from the US and Canada tour were distributed by The Streisand Foundation for charitable causes. The first million dollar donation from these funds was a contribution to the William Jefferson Clinton Climate Change initiative, the lead contribution to that cause, bringing to nearly $16,000,000 her charitable contributions from the tours. She contributed $10,000,000 and raised an additional $12,000,000 for the Women’s Heart Center at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center. In recognition for her efforts the Center was renamed in her honor, The Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center.

Recent honors reflecting the range of her involvement in charitable and social causes include the 1992 Commitment to Life Award from AIDS Project Los Angeles for her dedication to help people living with that disease, the ACLU Bill of Rights Award for her ongoing defense of constitutional rights and the Humanitarian Award from The Human Rights Campaign.

Ms. Streisand’s feelings about the rights and obligations of artists to participate in the political process were brought into sharp focus by her 1995 speech at Harvard University under the sponsorship of the John F. Kennedy School of Government. The address won unprecedented reportage and reproduction in such print media as the New York Times and the Washington Post. It was carried a record number of times on C-SPAN and is included in Senator Robert Torricelli’s book, “In Our Words: The American Century,” a collection of important speeches of the 20th century.

Prior to the 1986 elections, she performed her first full-length concert in 20 years, raising money for the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee to disburse to liberal candidates. Taped on Sept. 6, 1986, before 500 invited guests at her California home, the concert was called Barbra Streisand: One Voice and aired on HBO on Dec. 27, 1986 to enormous acclaim. The money raised that night helped elect five Democratic Senators, which restored a Democratic majority in the Senate. Additionally, she headlined concerts which raised millions of dollars for each of the successful presidential campaigns of Bill Clinton.

To date, over $27 million has been channeled to charities through the Streisand Foundation, which continues to occupy much of the star’s energy and resources. A concert at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium, headlined by Ms. Streisand in support of the Gore/Lieberman presidential campaign, raised over $5 million, the Democratic Party’s largest “hard money” intake ever. Her celebrated speech in support of the Gore candidacy later was played in substantial excerpts on several national television broadcasts. $6 million was brought to the presidential campaign of John Kerry by her 2004 performance at Los Angeles’ Disney Hall. She repeated her fund-raising effort on behalf of Sen. Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential candidacy. 

Barbra Streisand’s passionate political activism continues. Convinced that 1998’s national general election was one of the most crucial in recent history, she applied herself to the election of candidates and issues she felt essential. She was one of the first and most outspoken critics of the Republican Congress’ use of the impeachment issue as a means of blocking or undoing the social achievements of the Clinton administration. Ms. Streisand contributed financially to support the campaigns of 35 candidates in the general election, 27 of whom won. Similarly, she also supported specified candidates by endorsing 194 of them on her web site and then recommending consideration of this list when she did her AOL get-out-the-vote chat on election eve. Of the candidates she endorsed, 155 were elected and 39 were not. In both instances, that is a won/lost ratio of nearly 80%.

On July 1, 2019, Ms. Streisand and James Brolin celebrated their 21st Wedding Anniversary. 

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REVIEW OF BARBRA STREISAND RECORDING ACHIEVEMENTS:

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.

The statistics of Barbra Streisand’s achievements as a recording sales leader are clearly drawn in platinum and gold. She has achieved sales unequaled by any other female recording artist. With fifty-two gold albums, she is second in the all-time charts, ahead of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, exceeded only by Elvis Presley. Her 31 Platinum and 13 Multi-Platinum albums, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, also exceed all other female singers. Barbra Streisand is the only artist or act among the top four all-time record sellers who was not part of the rock & roll and country music genres. 

Her precious metal statistics also extend to the field of DVD releases. Her Back To Brooklyn DVD, also released with a CD, became her fifth to achieve Number One on the DVD charts. She has earned 9 gold DVDs, 6 platinum and 3 multi-platinum.

Her recordings have earned her 10 Grammy Awards, including the Grammy’s Lifetime Achievement and Legend Awards. Her #1 albums span a period of nearly 50 years. A millennium poll by the Reuters news agency identified her as the favorite female singer of the 20th Century and Frank Sinatra as the favorite male singer.

With a total of 33 Top 10 albums to her credit since 1963, Barbra Streisand shares second place in that important category with Frank Sinatra, with only the Rolling Stones ahead of them. , Ms. Streisand has the widest span (nearly 51 years) between first and latest Top 10 albums of any female recording artists or act. The historic success of Partners increased her substantial lead in both #1 and Top Ten albums over other female performers. Her presence in the Top Ten dates from her first solo album, The Barbra Streisand Album, which reached #8 in 1963, while her follow-up, The Second Barbra Streisand Album achieved #2 the same year. To date Her 11 #1 albums are: People, The Way We Were, A Star Is Born, Guilty, The Broadway Album,  Greatest Hits, Volume 2, Back To Broadway, Higher Ground, Love Is The Answer, Partners, and Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway. The latter 5 debuted on the charts at #1

At home in traditional and contemporary genres, Streisand even recorded a classical album titled Classical Barbra (1976) which was nominated for a Grammy Award in the classical category.

Of all her releases, 1980’s Guilty, Streisand’s collaboration with Barry Gibb of The Bee Gees, achieved the greatest success worldwide, selling over 20 million albums and several smash hit singles.

R.I.A.A. Totals

52 Gold Albums

31 Platinum Albums

13 Multi-platinum Albums

9 Gold Singles

5 Platinum Singles

9 Gold Videos

6 Platinum Videos

3 Multi-platinum Videos.

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MAJOR AWARD WINS

OSCAR

1969: Best Actress, Funny Girl

1977: Best Song, “Love Theme from A Star Is Born (Evergreen)”

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GRAMMY

1964: Album of the Year, The Barbra Streisand Album

1964: Best Female Vocal, The Barbra Streisand Album

1965: Best Female Vocal, “People”

1966: Best Female Vocal, My Name Is Barbra

1978: Best Pop Female Vocal, “Love Theme from A Star Is Born (Evergreen)”

1978: Song of the Year, “Love Theme from A Star Is Born (Evergreen)”

1981: Best Pop Duo or Group Vocal, “Guilty” (with Barry Gibb)

1987: Best Pop Female Vocal, The Broadway Album

1992: Legend Award

1995: Lifetime Achievement Award

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TONY

1970: Star of the Decade

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GOLDEN GLOBES

1969: Best Motion Picture Actress (Comedy or Musical), Funny Girl

1970: World Film Favorite–Female

1971: World Film Favorite–Female

1975: World Film Favorite–Female

1977: Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical), A Star Is Born

1977: Best Motion Picture Actress (Comedy or Musical), A Star Is Born

1977: Best Original Song, “Love Theme from A Star Is Born (Evergreen)”

1978: World Film Favorite–Female

1984: Best Motion Picture Director, Yentl

1984: Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical), Yentl

2000: Cecil B. DeMille Award

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PRIMETIME EMMYS

1965: Outstanding Individual Achievement, My Name Is Barbra

1995: Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special, Barbra Streisand: The Concert

1995: Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program, Barbra Streisand: The Concert

2001: Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program, Barbra Streisand: Timeless

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DAYTIME EMMYS

2001: Outstanding Special Class Special, Reel Models: The First Women of Film.

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PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS

1975: Favorite Motion Picture Actress

1975: Favorite Female Singer

1977: Favorite Motion Picture Actress

1978: Favorite Motion Picture Actress

1985: Favorite All-Around Female Entertainer

1988: Favorite All-Time Musical Performer

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DIRECTORS GUILD OF AMERICA

1995: Barbra Streisand: The Concert

Also nominated for

“Outstanding Directorial Achievement” for The Prince of Tides (1991) “Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Musical/Variety” for Timeless: Live In Concert (2001)

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THE PEABODY AWARDS

1966: My Name Is Barbra

1995: The Concert

1996: Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story

GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS FOR BARBRA STREISAND DIRECTED MOVIES.

YENTL (1984)

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy – WON

Best Director (Barbra Streisand) – WON

Best Original Score (Michel Legrand)

Best Actress (Barbra Streisand)

Best Actor (Mandy Patinkin)

Best Original Song (“The Way He Makes Me Feel”)

PRINCE OF TIDES (1992)

Best Actor (Nick Nolte) – WON

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Best Director (Barbra Streisand)

THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES (1997)

Best Supporting Actress (Lauren Bacall) – WON

Best Original Score (Marvin Hamlisch)

Best Actress (Barbra Streisand)

Best Original Song – (“I’ve Finally Found Someone”)

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