Bernadette Peters

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Bernadette Peters

Bernadette Peters.jpg
Born: February 28, 1948 (1948-02-28) (age 69)
Ozone Park, Queens, New York, U.S.
Years active: 1958–present
Ethnicity: Caucasian
Nationality: American
Measurements: 34C-23-36
Bra/cup size: 34C (75C)
Boobs: Natural
Height: 5 ft 3 in (1.60 m)
Body type: Average
Eye color: Brown
Hair: Red, Brown
Personal pages

Official website


Bernadette Peters (born February 28, 1948) is an American actress and singer from New York City. Over the course of a career that has already spanned five decades, she has starred in musical theatre, films and television, as well as performing in solo concerts and recordings. She is one of the most critically-acclaimed Broadway performers, having received nominations for seven Tony Awards, winning two, and eight Drama Desk Awards, winning three. Four of the Broadway cast albums on which she has starred have won Grammy Awards.

Peters first performed on the stage as a child and then a teenage actor in the 1960s, and in film and television in the 1970s. She was praised for this early work and for appearances on The Muppet Show, The Carol Burnett Show and in other television work, and for her roles in films like Silent Movie, The Jerk and Pennies from Heaven. In the 1980s she returned to the theatre, where she became one of the best-known Broadway stars over the next three decades. She also has recorded six solo albums and several singles, as well as many cast albums, and performs regularly in her own solo concert act. Peters also continues to act in films and on television, where she has been nominated for three Emmy Awards and three Golden Globe Awards, winning once.

Peters is particularly noted for her starring roles in stage musicals, including Song and Dance, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Annie Get Your Gun, and Gypsy, becoming closely associated with composer Stephen Sondheim. She had a four-year romantic relationship with comedian Steve Martin and was married to investment adviser Michael Wittenberg for over nine years until his death in 2005. Peters is known for her charitable work, including as a founder of the Broadway Barks animal charity and in AIDS activism.

Early life and career

Peters was born Bernadette Lazzara to an Italian-American family in Queens, New York, the youngest of three children. Her siblings are casting director Donna DeSeta and Joseph Lazzara.[1] Her father Peter drove a bread delivery truck, and her mother, Marguerite (nee Maltese), [2] started her in show business by putting her on the television show Juvenile Jury at the age of three-and-a-half. She appeared on the television shows Name That Tune and several times on The Horn and Hardart Children's Hour at age five.[2]

In January 1958, at age nine, she obtained her Actors Equity Card in the name of Bernadette Peters to avoid ethnic stereotyping, with the stage name taken from her father's first name.[2] She made her professional stage debut the same month in This is Goggle, a comedy directed by Otto Preminger that closed during out-of-town tryouts before reaching New York.[3] She then appeared on NBC television in A Boy Called Ciske, a Kraft Theatre production, on May 28, 1958, and as Anna Stieman in The Christmas Tree, a Hallmark Hall of Fame production, on December 14, 1958.[4] She first appeared on the New York stage at age 10 in the New York City Center revival of The Most Happy Fella (1959).[5] In her teen years, she attended the Quintano School for Young Professionals.[3]

At age 13, Peters appeared as one of the "Hollywood Blondes" and was an understudy for "Dainty June" in the second national tour of Gypsy.[6] During this tour Peters first met her long-time accompanist, conductor and arranger Marvin Laird, who was the assistant conductor for the tour. Laird recalled, "I heard her sing an odd phrase or two and thought, 'God that's a big voice out of that little girl,'"[7] The next summer, she played Dainty June in summer stock, and in 1962 she recorded her first single. In 1964 she played Leisl in The Sound Of Music and Jenny in Riverwind in summer stock at the Mt. Gretna Playhouse (Pennsylvania), and Riverwind again at the Bucks County Playhouse in 1966.[8][9][10] Upon graduation from high school, she started working steadily, appearing Off-Broadway in the musicals The Penny Friend (1966) and Curley McDimple (1967)[5] and as a standby on Broadway in The Girl in the Freudian Slip (1967). She made her Broadway debut in Johnny No-Trump in 1967 and next appeared as George M. Cohan's sister opposite Joel Grey in George M! (1968), winning the Theatre World Award.[2]

It was Peters' performance as "Ruby" in the 1968 Off-Broadway Dames at Sea, a spoof of 1930s musicals, that brought her critical acclaim and her first Drama Desk Award.[5] She had appeared in an earlier 1966 version of Dames at Sea at the Off-Off-Broadway performance club Caffe Cino.[11][12][13] Peters had starring roles in her next Broadway vehicles—Gelsomina in La Strada (1969), Hildy in On the Town (1971), for which she received her first Tony Award nomination, and Mabel Normand in Mack and Mabel (1974), receiving another Tony nomination. Although these had short runs, Peters was singled out for praise by the critics,[2] and the Mack and Mabel cast album became popular among musical theatre fans.[5] She moved to Los Angeles in the early 1970s to concentrate on television and film work.

Film appearances

Peters has appeared in 32 feature films or television movies beginning in 1973, including Mel Brooks' 1976 film Silent Movie (for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award), the musical Annie (1982), Pink Cadillac (1989), in which she co-starred with Clint Eastwood, and Woody Allen's Alice (1990).

She starred opposite Steve Martin in the The Jerk (1979), in a role that he wrote for her, and Pennies From Heaven (1981), for which she won the Golden Globe Award as Best Motion Picture Actress in a Comedy or Musical.[5] They had begun a romantic relationship in 1977 that lasted approximately four years.[14][15] By 1981, her popularity had led to Peters appearing on the cover and in a spread in the December issue of Playboy Magazine, in which she posed in lingerie designed by Bob Mackie.[16]

Peters appeared with three generations of the Kirk Douglas family in the 2003 film It Runs in the Family. In May 2006 she filmed a movie Come le formiche (Wine and Kisses) with F. Murray Abraham in Italy; the DVD was released on June 22, 2007 in Italy.[17]


In 1982, Peters returned to the New York stage after an eight year absence in one of her few non-musical stage appearances, the off-Broadway Manhattan Theatre Club production of the comedy-drama Sally and Marsha, for which she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award. She then returned to Broadway as Dot/Marie in the Stephen Sondheim–James Lapine musical Sunday in the Park with George (1984), for which she received her third Tony Award nomination, followed by Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance (1985), gaining her first Tony for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for her performance in the role of Emma. Theater critic Frank Rich wrote in an otherwise negative review of the show that Peters "has no peer in the musical theater right now."[18]

She then created the role of the Witch in Sondheim-Lapine's Into the Woods (1987). Peters is "considered by many to be the premier interpreter of his [Sondheim's] work," according to writer Alex Witchel.[19] Raymond Knapp wrote that Peters "achieved her definitive stardom" in Sunday in the Park With George and Into the Woods.[20] Sondheim has said of Peters, "Like very few others, she sings and acts at the same time," he says. "Most performers act and then sing, act and then sing ... Bernadette is flawless as far as I'm concerned. I can't think of anything negative."[21] Peters continued her association with Sondheim with a 1995 benefit concert of Anyone Can Whistle. Additionally, she appeared in several concerts featuring Sondheim's work, and performed for him at his 1993 Kennedy Center Honors ceremony.[22]

She next starred in the musical adaptation of Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl with music by Marvin Hamlisch (1993). Peters won her second Tony for her performance as Annie Oakley in the 1999 revival of Annie Get Your Gun opposite Tom Wopat. Among many glowing notices for this role, critic Lloyd Rose of the Washington Post commented: "[Peters] banishes all thoughts of Ethel Merman about two bars into her first number, 'Doin' What Comes Natur'lly.' Partly this is because Merman's Annie was a hearty, boisterous gal, while Peters plays an adorable, slightly goofy gamine... For anyone who cares about the American musical theater, the chance to see Peters in this role is reason enough to see the show."[23] Playbill went even further: "Arguably the most talented comedienne in the musical theatre today, Peters manages to extract a laugh from most every line she delivers."[24]

In 2003, Peters took on the role of Mama Rose in the Broadway revival of Gypsy, earning another Tony nomination. Ben Brantley in his New York Times review wrote, "Working against type and expectation under the direction of Sam Mendes, Ms. Peters has created the most complex and compelling portrait of her long career, and she has done this in ways that deviate radically from the Merman blueprint."[25] Arthur Laurents said: "But in 2003 there was a new Rose on Broadway: Bernadette Peters! Brilliant, original, totally unlike any of the others."[26] In February 2006, she participated in a reading of the Sondheim-Weidman musical Bounce.[27] On September 24, 2007, Peters participated in a one-time only charity reading of the play Love Letters with her former Gypsy co-star, John Dossett.[28]

Peters has been nominated for the Tony Award seven times and won twice.[29] She has also been nominated for the Drama Desk Award eight times and won three times (Annie Get Your Gun, Song and Dance, and Dames at Sea).[30][31]

Television appearances

Peters was nominated for Emmy Awards for her guest-starring roles on the Fox situation comedy Ally McBeal (2001), and The Muppet Show (1977). She was also nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award, Outstanding Performer in a Children's Special, for her work in the made-for-television movie Bobbie's Girl. She won the 1987 "CableACE Award" for her role as Dot in the television version of Sunday in the Park With George.[32]

She has appeared in many variety shows with stars such as Sonny and Cher and George Burns. She has both performed and presented on the Academy Awards broadcasts in 1994, 1987, 1983, 1981 and 1976. Peters has been a presenter at the annual Tony Awards ceremony and co-hosted the ceremony with Gregory Hines in June 2002.[33] She also hosted Saturday Night Live in November 1981.[34] She made 12 guest appearances on The Carol Burnett Show[35] as well as appearing with Burnett in the made-for-television version of Once Upon a Mattress and the 1982 film Annie. She also performed at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony for Burnett (2003).[36] Peters appeared often on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson[37] and on the day-time talk show Live with Regis and Kelly, both as a co-host and a guest.[38] Peters voiced stray cat Rita in the Rita and Runt segments of the animated series Animaniacs. Rita often sang on the show, sometimes in parodies of songs from Broadway musicals.[39] She appeared on Inside the Actor's Studio in November 2000, discussing her career and craft.[40]

Peters has co-starred in a number of television movies, including The Last Best Year (1990) with Mary Tyler Moore, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (1997) with Brandy (receiving a nomination for the "Golden Satellite Award" for her role), and Prince Charming (2003) with Martin Short. She co-starred in her own television series, All's Fair, with Richard Crenna in 1976–77, for which Peters was nominated for a Golden Globe award as Best TV Actress — Musical/Comedy. In March 2005, she made a pilot for an ABC situation comedy series titled Adopted, co-starring with Christine Baranski, but it was not picked up.[41]

Peters' television work in recent years includes guest appearances on several television series. She appeared as the sharp-tongued sister of Karen Walker (Megan Mullally) on the penultimate episode of the NBC series Will & Grace, "Whatever Happened to Baby Gin?" (May 2006); as a defense attorney on the NBC series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (November 2006); as a judge on the ABC series Boston Legal (May 2007); and as an accident victim in Grey's Anatomy (September 2008). Of her role in Grey's Anatomy, TV Guide wrote: "Peters is especially fine as she confronts a life spinning out of control. I'd make her an early contender for a guest-actor Emmy nomination."[42]

Peters appeared in the Lifetime television movie Living Proof which was first broadcast on October 18, 2008. She played the role of Barbara, an art teacher with breast cancer, who is initially reluctant to participate in the study for the cancer drug Herceptin. Andrew Gans of Playbill wrote, "Peters is able to choose from an expansive emotional palette to color the character, and her performance... is moving, humorous and ultimately spirit-raising".[43] In January and February 2009 she appeared in the ABC series Ugly Betty in three episodes, as Jodie Papadakis, a magazine mogul running the YETI (Young Editors Training Initiative) program that Betty and Marc are in.[44][45]


Peters has recorded six solo albums and several singles.[46] Three of her albums have been nominated for the Grammy Award. Peters' 1980 single "Gee Whiz" reached the top forty on the U.S. pop singles charts.[47] She has recorded most of the Broadway and off-Broadway musicals she has appeared in, and four of these cast albums have won Grammy Awards.[48]

Peters' debut album in 1980 (an LP), entitled Bernadette Peters contained 10 songs, including "If You Were The Only Boy", "Gee Whiz", "Heartquake", "Should've Never Let Him Go", "Chico's Girl", "Pearl's A Singer", "Other Lady", "Only Wounded", "I Never Thought I'd Break and You'll Never Know". The original cover painting by Alberto Vargas was one of his last works, created at the age of 84.[49] According to The New York Daily News, Peters "persuaded him to do one last 'Vargas Girls' portrait.... She just went to his California retreat, asked him to do one more, he looked at her and said, 'You ARE a Vargas girl!'" She kept the original painting.[50] The original title planned for the album was Decades.[51] It was re-released on CD in 1992 as Bernadette with the same cover art (pictured at left), together with some tracks from her 1981 album, Now Playing. Rolling Stone wrote of her debut album,

"Peters debuts on record as a first-rate pop torch singer: Melissa Manchester with soul, Bette Midler on pitch. Her album has already spawned the hit single "Gee Whiz," a laid-back, doo-wop version... that makes Peters' piping, little-girl voice seem almost like a cutesy novelty. There are also a couple of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil rock tunes in which she sounds slightly trashy and out of her depth. The Peter Allen songs on side two are really more her style. In fact, the whole second half of Bernadette Peters is just about perfect, from the star's semi-C&W rendition of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's "Pearl's a Singer" to a wistful recap of Harry Warren and Mark Gordon's romantic "You'll Never Know." But the best cuts are in between. "Other Lady," written by Lesley Gore (!) with Ellen Weston, tackles an age-old problem with... devastating eloquence... and Peters delivers it with the proper brooding introspection. Allen's compositions, "Only Wounded" (co-written with Carole Bayer Sager) and the torchy "I Never Thought I'd Break" (co-written with Dean Pitchford), feature the finest singing on the LP. ...the unusual absence of airbrushing echo places heavy demands on the chanteuse's sultry soprano. That Bernadette Peters rises to the occasion makes her performance that much more impressive."[52]

Her next solo album, Now Playing (1981), featured songs by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Carole Bayer Sager and Marvin Hamlisch, and Stephen Sondheim (for example, "Broadway Baby").[53] Bernadette Peters was re-released on CD in 1992 as Bernadette, with the 1980 Vargas cover art, and included some of the songs from Now Playing. In 1996, she was nominated for a Grammy Award for her best-selling album, I'll Be Your Baby Tonight, which includes popular songs by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Lyle Lovett, Hank Williams, Sam Cooke, and Billy Joel, as well as Broadway classics by Leonard Bernstein and Rogers and Hammerstein.[2] The live recording of her 1996 Carnegie Hall concert, Sondheim, Etc. - Bernadette Peters Live At Carnegie Hall, also was nominated for a Grammy Award.

Peters' next studio album, in 2002, Bernadette Peters Loves Rodgers and Hammerstein, consisted entirely of Rodgers and Hammerstein songs, including two that she sings in her concerts, "Some Enchanted Evening" and "There Is Nothin' Like a Dame".[54] This album, which reached position 14 in the "Top Internet Charts",[47] was her third album in a row nominated for a Grammy. It formed the basis of her Radio City Music Hall solo concert debut in June 2002.[55] Her last solo album, titled Sondheim Etc., Etc. Live At Carnegie Hall: The Rest of It, was released in 2005. It consists of all of the songs (and patter) from her 1996 Carnegie Hall concert that were not included in the earlier recording.[56]

Additionally, Peters has recorded songs on other albums, such as "Dublin Lady" on John Whelan's Flirting with the Edge (Narada, 1998). On the Mandy Patinkin Dress Casual 1990 album, Patinkin and Peters recorded the songs from Stephen Sondheim's 1966 television play, Evening Primrose. On the tribute album Born to the Breed: A Tribute to Judy Collins Peters sings "Trust Your Heart".[57][58]

Concert performances

Peters has been performing her solo concert in the United States and Canada for many years. [59] She made her solo concert debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1996, devoting the second half to the work of Stephen Sondheim.[60] She performed a similar concert in London, which was taped and released on video, and also aired on U.S. Public Television stations in 1999. She continues to perform her solo concert at venues around the U.S., such as the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami,[61] and with symphony orchestras such as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra,[62] the Dallas Symphony,[63] and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Hall.[64]

In a review of her 2002 Radio City Music Hall concert, Stephen Holden of the New York Times described Peters as "the peaches-and-cream embodiment of an ageless storybook princess... inside a giant soap bubble floating toward heaven. A belief in the power of the dreams behind Rodgers and Hammerstein's songs, if not in their reality, was possible."[65] Peters made her solo concert debut at Lincoln Center in New York City on May 1, 2006. Holden, reviewing this concert, noted, "Even while swiveling across the stage of Avery Fisher Hall like a voluptuous Botticelli Venus in Bob Mackie spangles... she radiated a preternatural innocence.... For the eternal child in all of us, she evokes a surrogate childhood playmate".[66]

Other activities

Peters contributes her time and talents to various charitable efforts. In 1999 Peters and Mary Tyler Moore co-founded "Broadway Barks", an annual animal adopt-a-thon held in New York City. Their goals are to promote adopting animals from shelters and to make New York City a no-kill city. To support this cause, Peters has written a children's book titled Broadway Barks (Blue Apple Books, April 2008) and words and music to a lullaby, titled "Kramer's Song", included on a CD in the book.[67] Peters is working on a second book to benefit the charity, which will feature her pit bull, Stella, and focus on the moral of not judging a book (or a breed) by its cover.[43][68]

Peters sings four songs on the CD accompanying the children's picture book Dewey Doo-it Helps Owlie Fly Again, for the Christopher Reeve Foundation. Her co-star from Sunday in the Park With George, Mandy Patinkin, also sings on the CD.[69][70] Peters is on the Board of Trustees of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.[71] She is a member of the Board of Directors of Standing Tall, a non-profit educational program offering an innovative program for children with multiple disabilities based in New York City (Peters' late husband was the Director and Treasurer of Standing Tall).[72] In addition, the 1995 Anyone Can Whistle concert and her "Carnegie Hall" 1996 concert were benefits for the Gay Men's Health Crisis.

On November 30, 2007 Peters helped the Broadway community celebrate the end of the 2007 Broadway stagehand strike in a "Broadway's Back" concert at the Marquis Theatre.[73] On September 15, 2008, she was one of the participants in a fund-raiser for the Westport Country Playhouse.[74] On October 16, 2008, she participated in the opening ceremony and dedication of the renovated TKTS discount ticket booth in Times Square.[75] Two weeks later, on October 30, 2008, Peters presented Mayor Michael Bloomberg with the Humanitarian Award at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation awards.[76] On March 8, 2009, she helped celebrate the birthday of Senator Ted Kennedy (singing "There Is Nothin' Like a Dame") in a private concert and ceremony held at the Kennedy Center, hosted by Bill Cosby, with many Senators, Representatives and President and First Lady Michelle Obama in attendance.[77]

Personal life

Peters married investment adviser Michael Wittenberg on July 20, 1996 at the upstate New York home of long-time friend Mary Tyler Moore. Wittenberg died at age 43 on September 26, 2005 in a helicopter crash in Montenegro while on a business trip.[78][79]

Peters has two dogs, a mixed-breed dog named Kramer and a pit bull named Stella, both adopted from shelters. Kramer and Peters' goddaughter Isabelle were the inspirations for the characters in her first children's book, Broadway Barks,[80] while Stella is the subject of her forthcoming second children's book.[24]

Honorary awards

Peters has received many honorary awards over the years, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (April 1987);[81] the Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year (1987);[82] the Sarah Siddons Award for outstanding performance in a Chicago theatrical production (1994);[83] the American Theatre Hall of Fame at the Gershwin Theatre in New York City (1996), becoming the youngest person so honored;[84] The Actors' Fund Artistic Achievement Medal (1999);[85] an Honorary Doctorate from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York (May 19, 2002);[86] the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame (June 28, 2002);[87] and the National Dance Institute 2009 Artistic Honoree (April 30, 2009).[88]


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  88. Gans, Andrew. "National Dance Institute to Honor Bernadette Peters and Yoko Ono",, April 21, 2009


  • Bryer, Jackson R. and Richard Allan Davison. The Art Of The American Musical: Conversations With The Creators (2005), Rutgers University Press, ISBN 0813536138
  • Crespy, David Allison. Off-Off-Broadway Explosion (2003), Back Stage Books, ISBN 0823088324
  • Knapp, Raymond. The American Musical and the Performance of Personal Identity (2006), Princeton University Press, ISBN 0691125244

External links

Big tit movies / pictures of Bernadette Peters

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