Barbra Streisand Receives Standing Ovation With SAG Life Achievement Award


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Barbra Streisand was honored with a Life Achievement Award at the 2024 Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Jennifer Aniston and Bradley Cooper presented Streisand, 81, with the accolade during the Saturday, February 24, ceremony, which was held at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles. James Brolin looked on at his wife adoringly while the stars, including a tearful Anne Hathaway, gave Streisand a standing ovation when she took the stage.

“This is such a wonderful award to get because you know in advance that you’re going to get it and you don’t have to sit there and squirm,” Streisand joked.  “Thank you SAG-AFTRA, I’m very proud to be a member for over 60 years. I can’t quite believe it. I remember dreaming of being an actress as a teenager, sitting in my bed in Brooklyn with a pint of coffee ice cream and a movie magazine.”

The legend recalled deciding to pursue acting after going into a showing of Guys and Dolls and being mesmerized. “I saw the most beautiful actor, Marlon Brando. It was my first crush. He was so real, so believable,” she recalled. “And I wanted to be the one who fell in love with him. … That make believe world was much more pleasant than anything I was experiencing.”

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Streisand continued, noting, “I never went to college. I always thought acting was my education, in trying to understand the character … the whole process was fascinating to me. … For a couple of hours people can sit in a theater and escape their own troubles. What an idea: moving pictures on a screen.”

She noted that the studio heads of the 1940s were doing the same, with Louis B. Mayer, the Warner Brothers and Samuel L. Goldwyn all changing their Jewish last names after immigrating to Hollywood from Europe in the early 20th century. “They were all fleeing the prejudice they faced in eastern Europe, simply because of their religion. And now I dream of a world where such prejudice is a thing of the past,” she said, earning cheers from the audience.

“I’ve always believed in the power of the truth and I think really good actors rely on that,” Streisand said.

She concluded, “So once again, I would like to thank SAG-AFTRA for this fabulous honor and to say to my fellow actors and directors, I’ve loved working with you, playing with you and inhabiting that magical world with you.” She thanked them for the joy they brought to the screen before receiving another standing ovation.

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Streisand is the 59th recipient of SAG-AFTRA’s highest tribute, which celebrates career achievements and humanitarian accomplishments. Past honorees include Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn, Robert Redford, Elizabeth Taylor, Julie Andrews, Betty White, Rita Moreno, Carol Burnett, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Helen Mirren and Sally Field, who most recently received the honor in February 2023.

SAG-AFTRA announced in December 2023 that Streisand had been chosen for the award.

“Barbra Streisand is an icon and unparalleled talent, a force of nature who has seamlessly woven her brilliance through the fabric of our industry,” SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher said in a statement at the time. “From her earliest days captivating audiences on Broadway to her unforgettable roles in cinematic classics like Funny Girl, The Way We Were and A Star Is Born, Barbra’s ability to inhabit her characters with authenticity is nothing short of extraordinary.”

Drescher, 66, continued: “Her enduring career is a testament to her genuine performances, connecting with audiences on a profound level. She is a colossal icon with a relentless work ethic, evolving with each stage of her remarkable journey. We celebrate Barbra Streisand not just for her achievements but for the enduring legacy she has carved.”

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As for Streisand, she reacted to the news with gratitude. “Ever since I was a young girl sitting in the Loew’s Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, I dreamed of being one of those actresses I saw on the screen,” read a statement from the actress. “The movies were a portal to a world I could only imagine. Even though I was an unlikely candidate, somehow my dream came true. This award is especially meaningful to me because it comes from my fellow actors, whom I so admire.”

Streisand is a multihyphenate known for her singing, acting, directing, writing and producing. She landed her first stage role in 1962, released her first record, The Barbra Streisand Album, in 1963, made her film debut in 1968’s Funny Girl and began directing with 1983’s Yentl. Throughout her legendary career, she has earned two Academy Awards, eight Grammy Awards, four Primetime Emmy Awards and a Tony Award, among many other accolades.



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