Fanny Brice (October 29, 1891 - May 29, 1951) was a United States comedian, singer, and entertainer.
"Fanny Brice" was the stage name of Fania Borach, born in New York City, the third child of relatively well-off saloon owners of Hungarian Jewish decent. In 1908, she dropped out of school to work in a burlesque review. She is best known for her association with Florenz Ziegfeld, and headlined his Ziegfield Follies starting in 1910 and continuing into the 1930s.
In the 1921 "Follies" she was featured singing the tango "My Man", which became a big hit and was much associated with Brice in the United States for many years. She made phonograph records of it and appeared singing it in sound film.
During the late 1930s, she had her own radio show which featured her as a bratty toddler known as "Baby Snooks".
Best known as a comic, Brice was a multitalented performer, able to sing songs humorously or with great serious emotion. She was a master at both verbal and physical comedy.
Fanny Brice died in Hollywood, California.
A Hollywood biopic of Brice appeared in 1939 entitled Rose of Washington Square.
Barbra Streisand made two movies that were (very) loosely based upon the life of Fanny Brice: Funny Girl and Funny Lady.
Film stories verses reality
Brice's second husband was gambler Julius "Nicky" Arnstein. Two children were born of the marriage. The film Funny Girl suggests Arnstein turned to crime because he didn't want to live off of Fanny. The real Nicky shamelessly sponged off Fanny their entire relationship. The film also suggests he sold phony bonds. He was actually part of a gang that stole $5 million worth of Wall Street securities. Instead of turning himself in, he went into hiding. When he finally surrendered, he did not plead guilty, but fought the charges for 4 years. After Arnstein served his sentence at Fort Leavenworth (he previously did time at Sing Sing, where a love-struck Fanny visited him every week), a heartsick Brice divorced him. Brice later married Billy Rose. That marriage, too, failed.