ON THIS DATE in 1910, eighteen-year-old Fanny Brice debuted with the Ziegfeld Follies. After hearing her sing in a Broadway burlesque, Florenz Ziegfeld had signed the former Fannie Borach to a $75 a week contract and put her in his famed musical revue.
Self-described as “a cartoonist working in the flesh,” Brice became an almost instant hit with her comic songs and offbeat characterizations. She left the Follies for five years in 1911 but returned in 1916 and ’17 and for five Ziegfeld productions from 1919 to 1924. Brice also appeared in films and was a great success on radio.
Funny Girl, a 1964 stage musical, was loosely based on Brice’s life. In 1968 Barbra Streisand starred in the film version, which brought her a best actress Oscar.