Fanny Brice was born Fannie Borach on October 29, 1891 in New York City. The subject of the hit musical Funny Girl, Brice’s infectious comedy style and vocals made her the featured performer of nearly all the “Ziegfeld Follies” from 1910 through 1923 before she started staring in movie musicals.
She dropped out of school in 8th grade to become a chorus girl. In 1909 she scored her first success singing an Irving Berlin song “Sadie Salome, Go Home” in the musical The College Girls. This performance caught the attention of impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, and at the age of 18, Brice began her legendary run in the Follies. Alongside such top-billed performers as W.C. Fields, Raymond Hitchcock, Van & Schenk and Ted Lewis, Brice performed in the Follies until 1923.
With arrival of talking pictures, Brice went to Hollywood and starred in My Man (1928), and Be Yourself (1930). Both of these films were failures, and Brice soon returned to Broadway. At some point during the early '30s, while appearing in some of the posthumous stage editions of the Ziegfeld Follies, Brice developed the persona of the bratty widdle kid Baby Snooks. Brice revived this character on an episode of a radio program entitled The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air, which aired February 29, 1936. The public response was immediate, and throughout the late '30s Brice carried Baby Snooks through an assortment of variety programs until settling in with Maxwell House Coffee Time in 1940. By 1944, her spot on the radio schedule was finally named The Baby Snooks Show in earnest. Brice often performed the part of Baby Snooks in an adult-sized baby outfit, departing from the usual standard of radio actors in that relatively few of them dressed the part when playing a character. As popular as she had been on Broadway in the early '20s, it was nothing compared to her success portraying Baby Snooks, and through this character Fanny Brice became a national institution.
In addition to her Broadway and radio success, Brice also had top ten hits with ‘My Man’ (#1 in 1992), ‘Second Hand Rose’ (#3, 1922), ‘I’m an Indian’ (#9, 1922) and ‘I’d Rather Be Blue Over You (Than Be Happy With Somebody Else)’ (1929).
Fanny Brice died on May 29, 1951 in Beverly Hills, California.