The 1968 musical rom-com was technically an ode to Fanny Brice, one of the most popular singer-comedienne during the 1930s just before World War 1 broke out. Albeit successful in reiterating Brice’s career and marriage, Funny Girl was highly sanitized. Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice was funny, heartwarming, and witty, but was nonetheless contrived. The real Fanny Brice was more audacious and anarchic. Her marriage to Nick Arnstein (played by Omar Sharif in the film) was a lot more wicked than the film encompassed.
Nevertheless, Funny Girl became a huge success, both in theatre and cinema. It would then catapult Barbra Streisand as an International Rising Star, as it made waves in Hollywood and the entire world, with Streisand sharing an Oscar Best Actress with Katherine Hepburn, one of the most acclaimed actresses of their time.
Funny Girl is a tale about a rising star’s break into the spotlight while keeping her love life a steady stream. In the film, Fanny was a struggling singer-turned into exceptional Broadway star. Since at the start of her career, she met this mysterious fan and gambler, Nick. They eventually get married after Fanny almost gave up her career for him.
However, Fanny came back to being a Broadway star, and became more significant than ever, while Nick, on the other hand, was struggling in his businesses. Fanny now became more successful than he is. Upon learning that Fanny was out to help him rise by investing in a new business for him, he rejected the offer and found himself in a criminal case of money fraud. He broke up with Fanny, but she decided to wait for him after 18 months of prison. In the end, they mutually decide that they would end their marriage.
Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould
In 1962, Barbra Streisand and ex-husband Elliott Gould met through the rehearsal of Broadway’s “I Can Get It For You Wholesale,” where Gould played the leading role and Streisand, as one of the supporting characters. 19-year-old Streisand, however, stole the show, as well as the heart of Gould.
While being on a perfectly steady relationship and eventual marriage, Streisand’s star began to rise in a fast-paced fashion. She would star in countless sold-out Broadway shows, appear on top TV programs–in 1963, she became the top-selling female artist in the United States. On top of that, she showed that she was unstoppable even on the big screen with Funny Girl. Just two years after her big Oscar win in 1969, she and Elliott Gould filed for divorce.
The Oscar Love Curse
It’s always a bittersweet moment every time someone in Hollywood breaks-up shortly after a woman’s success, like an Oscar win. It’s a widespread occurrence that journalists and fans have hailed this phenomenon as the Oscar Love Curse.
According to the Oscar Love Curse superstition, if an actress wins a Best Actress Oscar, then her love life will be wrecked. However, it’s more logical if the reason for the divorce is the actress-wife’s career progress–way before she got nominated–just the fact that she was cast in an Oscar-worthy film.
A lot of actresses–from Barbra Streisand, Cher, Julie Andrews, Jane Fonda to Reese Witherspoon, Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock–have marriages that have been put to tests and have not survived the industry, or perhaps the grueling male ego.
Barbra and Elliot started young, and at first, Elliott had a better career, until Barbra soared so high that he was already referred to as “Mr. Streisand.” In an interview with Madison, he said, “I couldn’t play the part. I had to be able to find myself, to be able to be myself. I couldn’t let myself live in a mold.”
It was almost a twin occurrence with Reese Witherspoon and ex-spouse Ryan Philippe. In the 90s, it was Philippe who was the big deal, but come 2000s, when Witherspoon did Legally Blonde, Philippe eventually faded in the background.
Both of them seemed perfect for each other, and no one could ever predict their breakup. Still, in the 2002 Oscars, when they presented Best Achievement in Makeup, Witherspoon asked if she could read the winner, and Philippe uttered, “You may more than I do, go ahead,” was funny, but disturbing. It was a sign that perhaps, the male ego is in the works.
The Male Ego
Not every smart and successful lady has ever been warned of the male ego–until many of them find themselves entangled in a once-sweet but now-bitter love affair. Everyone has to wonder what it is in female empowerment and success that keeps a lot of men from being “themselves.”
According to studies, men are not used to staying with women who are more professionally successful than they are. That’s why a lot of men prefer wives that have fixed working hours that have little chance of promotion, like a teacher or librarian. In that way, their wives have time to do housework.
Funny Girl encapsulated what this professional anomaly between husband and wife. In the film, Nick perused himself into a destructive deal after Fanny offered him help. The real Nick Arnstein, however, swindled a lot of Fanny Brice’s money into his gambles and illicit love affairs. On many examples in real life, many men cheat and blame their wives’ lack of time for them.
That’s the reality, but of course, it doesn’t mean all men are like that. As with every Oscar Best Actress winners, they’ve found the true loves of their lives without the fragile male ego. Barbra Streisand even found love again in her current husband of 22 years, James Brolin–but way after the peak of her career.
For all women out there, make sure that you choose the person you fall in love with. If you can’t find someone who is not insecure, then you’re better off being single. Watch Funny Girl, it’s heartwarming and heartbreaking, at the same time. Learn from Barbra Streisand’s sanitized version of Fanny Brice. She was a gem. ❤