Special Report

Funny Girl Debunked: Fanny Brice Facts

by John Kenrick

(Copyright 2003)

Fanny BriceFanny Brice as she appears on the sheet music for "Rose of Washington Square," which she introduced in Ziegfeld's Midnight Frolics.

Although the stage and screen hit Funny Girl is inspired by the life of singer-actress Fanny Brice, the plot is mostly delicious fiction with an occasional fact thrown in. Both the play and movie were produced by Fanny Brice's son in law, Ray Stark, who had the unenviable task of appeasing Fanny's surviving family and associates -- including Nick Arnstein. With Nick only too eager to initiate a lawsuit, Stark had to reshape history. And as Nick's character was fictionalized, other aspects of the story had to change too.

Keep in mind that Ray Stark's goal was not to teach a history lesson, but to create great entertainment -- and he succeeded. It is not the goal of this page to belittle Funny Girl, but just to set the record straight about some historical aspects of the story.

We hope this clarifies some misunderstandings promoted by an otherwise deightfu musical. Again, this page is not trying to rain on anyone's parade, but rather to enlighten those who are curious about the history behind all the swell razzle dazzle.

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