Brice, Fanny (1891-1951)

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Brice, Fanny (1891-1951)

One of the funniest women of her (or any other) day, singer and comedienne Fanny Brice starred in the Ziegfeld Follies for thirteen years becoming, in the process, one of America's most famous women. Combining innate comic talent with a great singing voice, Fanny was a vaudeville star when still a teenager. After signing with Florenz Ziegfeld at nineteen, Brice performed in all but two of the Ziegfeld Follies from 1910 to 1923. With her signature song, My Man, Brice went on to star on Broadway; she also appeared in eight films. But she was best known around the world as radio's Baby Snooks. Married to gambler Nick Arnstein and producer Billy Rose, Brice's life became the subject of the Broadway musical and 1968 film, Funny Girl, and its 1975 sequel, Funny Lady, starring Barbra Streisand. Her comic legacy—always a lady, Brice nonetheless shocked her audiences with her raunchy humor—is carried on by such contemporary comediennes as Joan Rivers and Bette Midler.

—Victoria Price

Further Reading:

Grossman, Barbara W. Funny Woman: The Life and Times of Fanny Brice. Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 1992.

Katkov, Norman. The Fabulous Fanny: The Story of Fanny Brice. New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1953.