BERNHARD, SANDRA (1955– ), U.S. actress, comedian, vocalist, author. Born in the suburbs of Flint, Michigan, the daughter of a proctologist and an artist, Bernhard's first public performance was singing "Hello Dolly" at a bar mitzvah. She spent eight months working on a kibbutz in Israel. At 18 she moved to California, where she first worked as a manicurist for clients such as Tina Louise. Her comedy career began in the late 1970s in Los Angeles' comedy clubs and led to a spot as a regular on the short-lived Richard Pryor Show. Her first major film role was opposite Robert DeNiro in Martin Scorcese's King of Comedy (1983). Her other major film credits include Hudson Hawk, The Apocalypse, and Inside Monkey Zetterland. Bernhard has received critical acclaim for her distinctive one-woman shows, a format particularly well suited to her wide-ranging caustic social commentary and extremely personal performances. Her most notable one-woman shows are "Without You I'm Nothing" (1988), which was later adapted into film, and "I'm Still Here … Damn It\!" (1998). Throughout her career, Bernhard's controversial personal life has been deeply intertwined with her professional success. Her highly publicized relationship with Madonna coincided with her appearance in Madonna's 1991 video Truth or Dare, and she also received great attention for her regular role on the television show Roseanne as the title character's lesbian friend. Bernhard has released seven albums, winning high praise in particular for her 1985 debut album I'm Your Woman. Bernhard is also the author of three books, including her autobiography Confessions of a Pretty Lady (1988) as well as Love, Love, and Love (1993) and May I Kiss you on the Lips, Miss Sandra? (1998). (Walter Driver (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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