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Sandra Bernhard Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (14) | Personal Quotes (13)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 6 June 1955Flint, Michigan, USA
Birth NameSandra Gail Bernhard
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Love her or hate her, this comic diva is a one-of-a-kind, in-your-face, take-no-prisoners artiste. Racy, confrontational, offensive, cynical, off-putting and angst-ridden to a T, this flinty stand-up from Flint, Michigan was born on June 6, 1955, the daughter of Jerome Bernhard, a proctologist, and his wife Jeanette, an abstract painter, sculptor and photographer who later divorced after 38 years. Moving to Scottsdale, Arizona in her early years, her initial comedy stage work in the 1970s was formulated around her "fish out of water" existence growing up as a "Jewess" amongst a sea of "blonde WASPs". A conventional beauty she was not. Her angular build was hardly complemented by angry, pronounced features, notably a trademark slash of a mouth. She managed to survive high school and went to live on a kibbutz in Israel for a period of time. Moving to Los Angeles at age 19, she paid her rent by working as a beauty salon manicurist to the stars as she tried to make a semi-name for herself in such L.A. haunts as "The Comedy Store." It all began quite modestly at an open-mike night at Ye Little Club in Beverly Hills in 1975.

As Bernhard grew in stature, the girl with major attitude was soon getting noticed for TV. She, along with other up-and-coming comics such as Robin Williams and Marsha Warfield, was cast as a regular player on The Richard Pryor Show (1977), a musical variety show. Her cutting-edge humor seemed like a natural fit in an atmosphere provided by a daredevil like Pryor, but the censorship staff and a turned-off audience had the show taken off the air after only five shows. A gifted talker and raconteur, she started making news on the night time talk show circuit for her pungent comments and observances.

She demonstrated real chutzpah on camera after Martin Scorsese cast her as Masha, who loose cannon who stalks and covets a talk show host, in his film The King of Comedy (1982) starring Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis. Nothing, however, came out of this dark success and she instead focused on the possibility of doing a one-woman comedy show.

Her first solo piece was entitled "I'm Your Woman" in 1985 and was met with a so-so reception and followed by an unsuccessful album release. Undaunted, Bernhard continued to work on film and TV while crafting a more volatile, performance art-oriented show for shock effect. This came in the form of the off-Broadway 1988 piece "Without You I'm Nothing" which played at the Orpheum Theatre. It was a cult hit and immortalized into both a film, also called Without You I'm Nothing (1990), and a double-album. As a monologist, Sandra trademark blending of pop culture topics along with blatant social commentary is usually given a boost by a bluesy-styled song.

Bernhard could also make eye-catching news on TV. In 1991 she was cast as Nancy Bartlett on the hit sitcom Roseanne (1988) as one of the first actresses to portray an openly lesbian character on American series TV. Although the character grew more diluted with time, it was nevertheless a groundbreaking character and she appeared on several seasons of the popular show. She did tough-talking turns on such popular shows as "Chicago Hope," "Ally McBeal," "Will & Grace" and "The L Word". Elsewhere, in September of 1992, Sandra opted to do a nude pictorial for Playboy Magazine. She then went on to host the USA network's Reel Wild Cinema (1994) for two seasons. Her brief nudges into mainstream films, which included such bombs Hudson Hawk (1991) and Dallas Doll (1994), did nothing to advance her movie career. Her one-woman shows, however, continue to jell with her liberal following and she enjoyed another New York success with her solo piece "I'm Still Here... Damn It!", which was also filmed. She also performed off-Broadway in "Sandra Bernhard: Everything Bad and Beautiful."

At age 50+, Sandra continues to push the envelope on such shows as "The View." Fair game includes everyone from Mariah Carey to Laura Bush to Mother Teresa as the object of her venom. In fact, she pretty much pioneered the celebrity put-down format that has made infamous celebrities out of such comics as Kathy Griffin. It's Sandra's unique brand of crass talk and self-effacing vulnerability that will keep the "Empress of Acerbity" a strong commodity in the nitery circuit.

Unmarried with a young daughter, Sandra is openly bisexual and currently living with a longtime companion, writer and PR executive Sara Switzer. Sara was attached to Sandra's talk show The Sandra Bernhard Experience (2001) as a writer and co-host.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Trade Mark (2)

Distinctive facial features
Her face

Trivia (14)

She had a daughter, Cicely Yasin Bernhard (also given Hebrew name Rachel), on July 4, 1998 via cesarean section. The baby's father has not been revealed.
Graduate of Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Before beginning her career as a stand-up comedian she was a manicurist for a posh L.A. salon.
Toured with the 1999 Lilith Fair as the only comedienne.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald S. Smith, pg. 50. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
Posed nude for Playboy magazine.
Has three older brothers.
At one time she was offered a role in Jordan Roth's revival of "The Rocky Horror Show" but it only paid $2,000 a week and she turned it down.
Her 1988 show "Without You I'm Nothing" was recorded and received a Grammy nomination for Best Comedy in 1991.
Is bisexual.
In June 2006, Bernhard appeared on the daytime talk show "The View", and in a seven-minute segment, her commentary on race and politics incited two of the hosts to rage.
Developed a strong friendship with Madonna during the 1990s, and the two were frequently seen together in public. The two made intimations of a romantic relationship, most notably after appearing on David Letterman's show where Sandra joked that she had slept with both Madonna and her then-husband, Sean Penn. The friendship ended badly in the long run but neither were clear about the reason. Bernhard often hinted at a betrayal on Madonna's part.
Had a fractured working relationship with co-star Jerry Lewis while filming The King of Comedy (1982). She claims he was very derogatory to her.
According to an interview on Howard Stern's show, she revealed that she turned down the role of Miranda on the TV series Sex and the City (1998) --a role that eventually made Cynthia Nixon a household name.

Personal Quotes (13)

She's like jazz. She created her own beat. - friend and fellow comedian Paul Mooney
I think people are a little bit intimidated by me. You know, I'm not exactly a wilting flower, so I think they're a little bit scared of me sometimes.
My father was a proctologist and my mother was an abstract artist, so that's how I view the world.
I'm the only actress in Hollywood who didn't pay to have these lips.
I think [comedy] is definitely a more male oriented field--social commentary, political commentary--I think it's just easier for men to get up and say whatever they want. But I don't think there's that many women who really want to put their toe in the water either. It's not the easiest life or lifestyle to get out there and kind of shake the s*** up.
I tend to go against the grain because when I start to see that everybody's trying to shock, I try not to. I just do stuff that's subtler, more emotional, and I think that shocks people.
My family wasn't the Brady Bunch. They were the Broody Bunch.
[1992: On seeing someone hawking, coughing and spitting loudly] That kind of stuff makes me laugh. Sick human beings, weird human beings, ya know?
[on Jerry Lewis and The King of Comedy (1982)]: It was fabulous. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I learned so much from everybody on that film, including Jerry. Is he easy to get along with? No. Is he notoriously crank and misogynistic? Yes. But that doesn't mean you don't have a great experience in spite of people's limitations. It was incredible.
Paranoia is a full-time job.
[on The King of Comedy (1982)] I haven't seen the movie in a long time. How many times can you watch yourself, you know? It's uncomfortable. I am curious to see it again all cleaned up and restored. The film was so representative of an era in filmmaking when people would take their time in a scene. It wasn't a case of rush, rush, rush onto the next moment. You had room to breathe, and I think that in itself made people uncomfortable because the topic was so weird and out of left field at the time. Now, expectations of fame and desire run so extreme that the film almost seems tame in comparison, but there's still something about The King of Comedy (1982) that's very disarming and offbeat and something you'll never see again. And so those are the emotions I feel. It was very evocative.
[on the possibility of remaking The King of Comedy (1982)] No way. At one point, Jack Black wanted to remake it, and I was like - I mean I love him, he's fabulous, don't get me wrong, but I don't think it would have worked. It's too late to remake it. We're here and there's nothing to really predict. It's just an ongoing conversation you have every day of the week like, "Can you believe he's famous?" There's nothing to say about it. We're in the middle of it.
[re acting caustic towards audiences in past] I would still be frank and honest and funny, but I'd be more sensitive. I think having a kid and seeing how the world works from that angle, you're a little more thoughtful and introspective. You don't want to spend your whole life being bitchy to people. But it worked then, and I'm still able to pull it out if I need to.

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