Funny Lady is a 1975 American biographical comedy-drama musical film starring Barbra Streisand, James Caan, Omar Sharif, Roddy McDowall, and Ben Vereen.
A sequel to the 1968 film Funny Girl, it is a highly fictionalized account of the later life and career of comedian Fanny Brice and her marriage to songwriter and impresario Billy Rose. The screenplay was by Jay Presson Allen and Arnold Schulman, based on a story by Schulman. The primary score was by John Kander and Fred Ebb. It was directed by Herbert Ross.
Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice
James Caan as Billy Rose
Omar Sharif as Nick Arnstein
Roddy McDowall as Bobby Moore
Ben Vereen as Bert Robbins
Carole Wells as Norma Butler
Larry Gates as Bernard Baruch
Although she was contractually bound to make one more film for producer Ray Stark (Fanny Brice's one-time son-in-law), Streisand balked at doing the project. She told Stark "that it would take litigation to make her do a sequel." However, Streisand liked the script, which showed Fanny to be "...tougher, more acerbic, more mature...", and she agreed to do the film.
The first actor to read for the role of Billy Rose was Robert Blake. Other actors were mentioned, including Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, but ultimately James Caan was chosen. Streisand explained: "It comes down to whom the audience wants me to kiss. Robert Blake, no. James Caan, yes."
Stark, unhappy with the scenes shot by the original cinematographer, lured an ailing James Wong Howe out of retirement to complete the film. It proved to be his final project, and it earned him an Academy Award nomination.
Studio heads forced Ross to trim the film to a manageable 136 minutes before its release. Much of Vereen's performance ended up on the cutting room floor, together with a recreation of Brice's Baby Snooks radio show and dramatic scenes involving her and her daughter.
In addition to Howe, Oscar nominations went to Ray Aghayan and Bob Mackie for Best Costume Design, John Kander and Fred Ebb for Best Original Song ("How Lucky Can You Get?"), Peter Matz for Best Scoring of an Original Song Score and/or Adaptation, and the sound crew. Streisand, Caan, and Vereen all received Golden Globe Award nominations, as did Kander and Ebb and the film itself, but it was shut out of any wins in both competitions.
The film grossed $40,055,897 at the U.S. box office, making it the seventh highest grossing picture of 1975.
James Caan thought there were "too many cooks messing around" the film, although he liked his performance.
The film was nominated for five Academy Awards:Academy Award for Cinematography
Academy Award for Costume Design
Academy Award for Music (Scoring: Original Song Score and Adaptation)
Academy Award for Music (Original Song)"How Lucky Can You Get?"
Academy Award for Best Sound (Richard Portman, Don MacDougall, Curly Thirlwell and Jack Solomon)
It was also nominated for six Golden Globe awards:Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Barbra Streisand
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for James Caan.
Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score - Motion Picture
Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song - Motion Picture for "How Lucky Can You Get?"
Golden Globe Award for Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture - Male for Ben Vereen
The soundtrack peaked on the Billboard Album Chart at number 6 and was certified gold. A majority of the songs were written by duo Kander and Ebb.