March 26: Opening night for Funny Girl starring Barbra Streisand. Where to start? Other actresses were considered for the role of Ziegfeld Follies-era comedienne Fanny Brice, but Streisand, a Greenwich Village club singer with only one other Broadway credit, made such an indelible impression in the role that she all but obliterated memory of the real Brice. The upside-down skater of the logo ruled at the Winter Garden for more than a thousand performances. Funny Girl remains one of the few hit musicals from this era that has never had a Broadway revival (so far) because who is bold enough to try to make us forget La Streisand? Carol Channing would beat Streisand for the Best Actress in a Musical Tony, but Babs would have her revenge by starring in the movies of both Funny Girl AND Dolly. This would be her last Broadway appearance before she headed west for her legendary film, TV and recording career. Nevertheless, her signature song remains the Jule Styne/Bob Merrill Funny Girl anthem “People,” which entered American culture on this date.
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