Posters, Lobby Cards
Barbra Streisand's first film, Funny Girl, was advertised in movie theaters with movie one-sheets, or posters. A variety of designs were created for both U.S. and foreign markets, most of them 27 x 41 inches:
Lobby cards —like posters but smaller, usually 11" × 14", and created in sets of eight—were also distributed. Below are some European lobby cards:
- 8-1/2 x 11-1/4 inches; 48 pages; color and black & white photos; Star bios; Creative Team bios; Songs; Cast & Credits
- Written by Jack Brodsky
- Designed by Robert Geissman
- Produced by National Publishers, Inc.
- Photos by Steve Schapiro and Ted Allan, John Monte, Pierluigi, and Sterling Smith
Roadshow Sales + Featurettes
In 1967, selling the Funny Girl film was very different than the way films are publicized today. Funny Girl was what they called a roadshow film, meaning that it was exhibited much like a Broadway show: reserved-seat tickets were sold in advance, and the film was shown with an Overture and Entr'Acte.
Columbia Pictures produced three featurettes to publicize Funny Girl. A featurette has a 20 to 44-minute running time and is approximately three quarters of a reel. It is, literally, a “small feature”—or a featurette.
They were shown in theaters before other Columbia films to generate buzz among the audience.
“This Is Streisand”
Running 5:30-minutes in length, this Columbia featurette utilized photographic stills of Streisand's costume and makeup tests, as well as behind-the-scenes shots to introduce Streisand the movie star to audiences. This Is Streisand was included on Columbia's 2001 DVD and 2013 Blu-ray of Funny Girl as a Special Feature.
“Barbra in Movieland”
This 10-minute featurette followed Charlie Peterson, who worked at the Hoboken, New Jersey rail station since 1929, as he interacted with the Funny Girl film crew.
Behind-the-scenes shots of Streisand, Wyler, and Ross filming “Don't Rain On My Parade” are included. Curious is an alternate take of one of Barbra's last phrases of the song.
Barbra in Movieland was included on Columbia's 2001 DVD and 2013 Blu-ray of Funny Girl as a Special Feature.
“The Look of Funny Girl”
Narrated by Arlene Francis, The Look of Funny Girl was about 8 minutes in length. It consisted of Streisand's filmed costume fittings, with Francis narrating about each design.
A 1967 news article about the marketing of Funny Girl said the fashion short was made for women's clubs and merchandising tie-ins, all meant to generate advance sales for the film.
The Look of Funny Girl was not included on any home video version of Funny Girl.
Opening Funny Girl
Before Funny Girl opened on both U.S. coasts, San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto presented the first annual Samuel Goldwyn Award to Barbra Streisand on behalf of Funny Girl, which won the award as the best American made film of 1968. The ceremony happened on November 3, 1968.
At the National Association of Theatre Owners in San Francisco (at the Hilton Hotel on November 14, 1968), Streisand appeared with her co-winner, Sidney Poitier, to accept the “Star of the Year” award. “It's great to be on the same platform with Sidney Poitier,” Streisand said at the event. “ Ray [Stark] originally wanted to use Sidney for Nick Arnstein in Funny Girl, but we decided he looked too Jewish. So we went in another direction...”
Funny Girl premiered on September 18th, 1968 as a $100-per-ticket event at the Criterion Theatre in New York. The premiere benefitted the Mayor Lindsay's Committee on Youth and Physical Fitness. Below is an original invitation:
Streisand wore “a floor-length nude tulle gown and cape that shimmered with scattered clear iridescent sequins,” according to designer Arnold Scaasi.
The New York Times reported on the opening night party:
The Times Square block was turned into a miniature tent city, a yellow and white striped landscape on a parking lot in the heart of the theater district [...] A song in the movie provided the inspiration for the supper menu, catered by Restaurant Associates. The chicken liver pâté was a loose translation of lyrics that mentioned “chopped liver” and the sliced sirloin of beef came from the line “how many girls become a sinner while waiting for a roast beef dinner?”
It was Barbra Streisand's first premiere as a movie star, and she said she felt like a “kid with a plaything.”
“Opening nights in the theater are nerve-wracking and frightening,” she said. “My friends used to get dresses for them, and they'd come in, sit and enjoy themselves while I'd be dying on the stage.
“This is the first time that I'll be doing the same thing. I can watch myself work and know that I can't forget my lines.”
Mayor Lindsay interviewed Streisand on television when she arrived to the premiere. “It's a long way from Brooklyn to Broadway,” he said to her. “It's not so long if you take the BMT and change at Canal Street,” Barbra replied. (The exchange between Lindsay and Streisand was broadcast on the Kraft Music Hall special.)
After the film, an opening night party was held in a tent on the grounds of the Astor Hotel.
Los Angeles Premiere
The Hollywood Premiere of Funny Girl was at the Egyptian Theatre on October 9, 1968, sponsored by The Women's Guild for Cedar's-Sinai Medical Center. Designer Arnold Scaasi wrote that Streisand wore his “long white llama-like shaggy-wool evening coat over a jumpsuit of bright magenta satin.”
London Activities and Premiere
Streisand flew to London in January 1969 with the Funny Girl team, including Fran and Ray Stark, Omar Sharif, and Barbra's dresser, Gracie Davidson. Their European promotion of Funny Girl had begun.
She held a press conference at London's Dorchester Hotel (pictured below).
Monday, January 13, 1969 — Streisand took a night off in London to attend the play Forty Years On at the Apollo Theatre (pictured below).
On Wednesday, January 15, 1969, Barbra attended the European royal premiere at the Odeon Cinema, Leicester Square, London—benefitting the Invalid Children's Aid Association. Streisand greeted Princess Margaret (pictured below at Claridge's, where the gala party was held after the premiere).
Streisand hobnobbed with actor Peter Sellers, Princess Margaret's husband Lord Snowdon, David Frost, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and Team Streisand: Manager Marty Erlichman and press agent Lee Solters. Streisand wore a velvet and mink evening coat with a cossack hat.
Funny Girl premiered at the Opera of Paris on Thursday, January 16, 1969. Streisand was escorted by Maurice Chevalier — the French actor, Cabaret singer and entertainer. “We set off like two newlyweds in a Rolls-Royce provided by Columbia,” Chevalier wrote in his autobiography. “We had to take an extra turn around the block when we got to the Opera in order not to make our entrance too soon.”
Newspaper columnists reported: “It took Barbra Streisand and her escort Maurice Chevalier 25 minutes to get through the mobs to their seats at the Paris premiere of Funny Girl...”
The Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on April 14, 1969. Streisand tied with Katharine Hepburn for Best Actress. She joined Anthony Harvey (accepting for Ms. Hepburn) on stage with presenter Ingrid Bergman.
Below: Some industry ads, touting Funny Girl actors and creatives for Oscar nominations.
Below: A year after Funny Girl opened, Streisand joined Ray Stark at a Funny Girl birthday party at the Criterion Theater, where she cut a large cake in celebration. Paul Newman, Cloris Leachman, and Herb Ross also attended.
“Funny Girl” Major Awards
- Academy Award winner for Best Actress: Barbra Streisand
- Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Supporting Actress: Kay Medford, Best Sound, Best Music, Best Original Song and Best Film Editing
- Golden Globe Award winner for Best Motion Picture Actress: Barbra Streisand
- Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical, Best Motion Picture Director, and Best Original Song