- NAME: Fanny Brice
- OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress, Comedian, Singer, Radio Personality
- BIRTH DATE: October 29, 1891
- DEATH DATE: May 29, 1951
- PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
- PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
- Full Name: Fania Borach
- AKA: Fannie Brice
- AKA: Fanny Brice
- AKA: Fanny Borach
Best Known For
Fanny Brice was a popular American singer and comedian who was long associated with the Ziegfeld Follies. She was portrayed by Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl.
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Born on October 29, 1891, in New York City, Fanny Brice sang in a talent contest when she was 13 at Keeney's Theatre, and won first prize. In 1910, Florenz Ziegfeld heard Brice singing in a burlesque house and made her a headliner in his Follies that year. Brice was a Follies perennial after 1910, and her comic routines and parodies were highly popular. She also appeared in a few motion pictures. Brice died
"Being a funny person does an awful lot of things to you. You feel that you mustn't get serious with people. They don't expect it from you, and they don't want to see it. You're not entitled to be serious, you're a clown."
"Men always fall for frigid women because they put on the best show."
Actress, comedian and singer Fanny Brice was born Fannie Borach on October 29, 1891, in New York City, to Charles Borach, a bartender, and Rose Stern, a factory worker. At 4 years old, Fanny moved with her parents and three siblings to Newark, New Jersey. Less than a decade later, her father's gambling problem led Fanny's parents to separate, with Rose taking the children and moving back to New York, this time settling in Brooklyn.
It was in Brooklyn, at Keeney's Theatre, that Fanny Brice made her stage debut as an entertainer: At the age of 13, she won the venue's amateur night competition and $5 after singing "When You Know You're Not Forgotten by the Girl You Can't Forget." Her victory on the small stage ignited Brice's passion for the spotlight, and she soon left school to pursue a career in the music industry. After several failed attempts at living out her dream, Brice began working at a burlesque house—one of the least competitive forms of entertainment at the time.
While working for the Transatlantic Burlesquers, Brice performed as part of the production The Girls from Happyland in 1908—marking the first time she used her stage name, "Fanny Brice," taken from a family friend. While working as a burlesque performer, Brice was discovered by producer Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. Seeing her comedic potential, Ziegfeld brought Brice aboard for his 1910 production, Follies.
Though she had comedic appeal, Brice didn't get many parts in the act because she wasn't seen as beautiful by Ziegfeld's standards. Thusly, the young Jewish girl who often resorted to self-deprecation and stereotypes for laughs failed to have her contract renewed in 1911. After struggling to find work yet again, Brice teamed up with Blanche Merrill, a songwriter who specialized in working with women. With Merrill's help, Brice became a comedic entertainer who took the Ziegfeld Follies of 1916 and 1917 by storm with songs like "The Yiddish Bride."
For a decade after her return to the Ziegfeld Follies, Fanny Brice remained a strong and sidesplitting presence on the stage. Hoping to be taken more seriously as an actress and comedian, Brice began performing "My Man" without any accent or over-the-top movements—unlike her other numbers—in 1921's Follies production. Two years later, she underwent plastic surgery to alter her nose, a characteristic that she felt most reflected her Jewish heritage and caricature acting. Following her cosmetic surgery, Brice appeared in the David Belasco production Fanny (1926), which unfortunately flopped.
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