Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Happy Birthday to Actress, Comedian, Singer, Author, Sandra Bernhard

Sandra Bernhard was born today,  June 6, in 1955. She is an American actress, comedian, singer, and author. She first gained attention in the late 1970s, with her stand-up comedy in which she often bitterly critiqued celebrity culture and political figures. Bernhard is also known as portraying Nancy on the ABC sitcom Roseanne.

Bernhard was born in Flint, Michigan. Her parents raised her as a Conservative Jew. Bernhard's family moved to Arizona when she was 10.

Bernhard became a staple at The Comedy Store. As her popularity as a comedian grew she was cast as a supporting player on The Richard Pryor Show in 1977. Guest appearances on evening talk shows followed. Her big break came in 1983 when she was cast by Martin Scorsese to star as stalker and kidnapper Masha (at right with Robert De Niro) in the film The King of Comedy for which she won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress.

She began performing her first one-woman show called I'm Your Woman in 1985, and an album version was released. Bernhard appeared in a variety of tiny film and television roles throughout the 1980s while crafting her stand-up routine into a more performance art oriented show. 

She launched an Off-Broadway one woman show called Without You I'm Nothing, With You I'm Not Much Better in 1988, which played at the Orpheum Theatre. In 1990 it was turned into a film and a double album of the same title.  

A frequent guest on David Letterman's NBC program, it was during the run of Without You I'm Nothing, With You I'm Not Much Better that she appeared with her then-good friend (and rumored lover) Madonna on the show. The two alluded to their romantic relationship and staged a sexy confrontation. They would continue to be friends for several years, with Bernhard even making an appearance in Madonna's movie Truth or Dare.

In 1991, Bernhard began playing the role of Nancy Bartlett on the hit sitcom Roseanne (shown at right with guest star Morgan Fairchild). She appeared in 33 episodes between 1991 and 1997, and in one episode of the reboot of the series in 2018. She was one of the first actresses to portray an openly lesbian recurring character on American television. The role is one of her best known, something she has lamented in her stand-up as being both a blessing and a curse. 

In September 1992, Bernhard did a nude pictorial for Playboy. She hosted the USA Network's Reel Wild Cinema for two seasons beginning in 1995. Bernhard continued acting in mostly independent films and TV guest roles and forays into mainstream films such as Hudson Hawk and Dallas Doll

In 1991 she released her first studio album, entitled Excuses for Bad Behavior (Part One). She also appeared (as herself) on Will & Grace in an episode dealing with Will and Grace's spuriously bidding on Bernhard's Manhattan apartment in order to become friendly with her and culminates in a diatribe from Bernhard when their ruse is exposed, with obfuscating sounds of a blender (she was having a smoothie made) blotting out supposed obscenities. She returned as herself briefly, 2 years later.

Bernhard returned to Broadway in 1998 with the show I'm Still Here... Damn It!, recorded for a live comedy album. At that time of the show Bernhard was pregnant. She gave birth to daughter Cicely Yasin Bernhard on July 4, 1998. 

Bernhard returned to New York in 2006 with the Off-Broadway show Everything Bad & Beautiful. The CD Everything Bad & Beautiful was critically lauded as one of her best, released by indie label Breaking Records. The year 2007 saw the creation of Bernhard's show Plan B from Outer Space as well as Indie label upstart Breaking Records release of the compilation "Breaking For the Holidays" where Bernhard co-penned Miracle of Lights with Mitchell Kaplan. As a singer, Bernhard performs classic pop music, jazz, and blues tunes.

In an interview with Howard Stern, the comedian revealed that she was originally offered the role of Miranda Hobbes of TV show Sex and the City, but opted out due to the "terrible" original script and low paycheck. In 2013, the media announced that Sandra Bernhard would be joining the cast of ABC Family's Switched at Birth along with Glee's Max Adler. Sandra assumed the role of an art professor on the Season 3 Opener in January 2014. Starting in 2015, Bernhard began hosting a radio show, Sandyland, on Sirius XM's, Radio Andy.

She is the author of three books: Confessions of a Pretty Lady, an autobiography (1989); Love, Love and Love, an essay collection (1993); and May I Kiss You On The Lips, Miss Sandra?, a semi-autobiography (1999).

Bernhard is openly bisexual and a strong supporter of gay rights. On July 4, 1998, Bernhard gave birth to a daughter, Cicely Yasin Bernhard, whom she raises with her longtime partner, Sara Switzer.

1 comment:

Raybeard said...

Don't know why she hasn't done more films since 'King of Comedy', in which she excelled. I've just looked at her filmography and I see that the only other one of the few feature films she's appeared in which I've seen was the pretty abysmal 'Hudson Hawk', and I can't recall her in that anyway. Lots of TV work but, not being a great telly watcher, I've missed all her appearances there. Pity.