The past month has been pretty eventful for Barbra Streisand.
Two weeks ago, the legendary singer and actress was honored at the 40th Annual Charlie Chaplin Gala of The Film Society of Lincoln Center for her body of work. Former president Bill Clinton presented her with the award that recognized her work in such films as The Way We Were, A Star is Born, What's Up Doc? and Yentl. Streisand, who turned 71 last month, also saw Academy Award best picture nominee Hello Dolly released on Blu-ray for the first time.
Her most recent film, 2012's The Guilt Trip, co-starring Seth Rogen, is out this week on home video. And so is the movie that started it all - the romantic musical Funny Girl (1968, Sony, G, Blu-ray $20), which celebrates its 45th anniversary with its debut in high definition after a meticulous restoration. The William Wyler film brought Streisand to the big screen for the first time with her reprising her role in the 1964 Broadway musical of the same name.
The story focuses on the early career of influential Ziegfeld Follies comedian Fanny Brice and her tumultuous love affair with gambler and second husband Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif). Streisand is captivating from the moment she pauses before a mirror and utters her iconic first onscreen line, "Hello, Gorgeous."
The movie, which is set in New York City around the time of World War I, begins with Brice waiting for her husband to get out of prison. It then flashes back on their life together. An impressionable young Brice is charmed by the urbane Arnstein and as her career blossoms, so does their romance. For Streisand, it is a musical tour de force with 16 numbers. Several of the songs are Brice classics, including My Man, Second Hand Rose and I'd Rather Be Blue Over You (Than Happy With Somebody Else). Original tunes like People, I'm the Greatest Star and Don't Rain on My Parade have become standards as well.
Streisand shared an Academy Award for best actress for her performance with Katharine Hepburn for The Lion in Winter. Funny Girl received seven other Oscar nominations - supporting actress (Kay Medford), cinematography, film editing, score, original song and sound. Streisand would play Brice again in 1975's Funny Lady, which explored her life with third husband, songwriter and stage producer Billy Rose (1929-1938).
Brice, who died in 1951 at age 59, first headlined Florenz Ziegfeld's Follies as early as 1910 and became a regular player throughout the 1920s and 1930s. She starred on Broadway and in several films, including as herself in The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and Ziegfeld Follies (1946). Starting in the 1930s and until her death in 1951, Brice was a radio favorite with her bratty Baby Snooks character.