Jose here to commemorate Fanny Brice's birthday. The extravagant comedienne would've turned 118 today. Yes, seriously, watching her energy in films like The Great Ziegfeld (where she played herself) or listening to her vibrant musical performances it's easy to think that this woman could've lived forever.
A New Yorker born from Hungarian parents, she made a way for herself in the burlesque world and later by her association with Florenz Ziegfeld. She became a huge musical star and a popular radio personality with her Baby Snooks character.
But what remains fascinating about Brice is that she pulled off an enviable career using raw talent. Would someone like her fit in our current notions of what makes an entertainer appealing?
Sure her life was plagued with scandal (her marriage to Nicky Arnstein wasn't as tragically romantic as pop culture has us think) and that would've fit wonderfully in our tabloid loving society. But in an industry that has shifted towards the shallow, what do you think Brice would be doing if she had appeared this decade? She would've probably been relegated to supporting performances and deemed a "character actor" and her musical career would've been stalled because she wouldn't have looked good in a thong.
Casting the brilliant Barbra Streisand as Brice in Funny Girl (which brought her a much deserved Oscar for best Actress) and Funny Lady, was one of those rare moments of Hollywood genius where you can argue everything works for the best. Sure the movies are plagued with romantic fiction and invented plot twists, but as far as star charisma and talent go, Brice, and Streisand now, are in a league of their own.