One of the biggest Broadway stars of her era, Bernadette Peters was widely acclaimed as the finest singing actress to come along since Barbra Streisand. Born Bernadette Lazzara on February 28, 1948 in New York City, she began singing and dancing while a toddler, and was already a member of Actors' Equity by the age of nine. By 1959, having adopted the stage name Peters, she appeared in a revival of +The Most Happy Fella, subsequently co-starring in a road tour of +Gypsy; however, she then retired from performing for a time, extensively studying acting and singing during her late-teen years. In 1968, Peters won a Theatre World citation for her performance in +George M!; that same year, she also garnered a Drama Desk Award for her comedic turn in the off-Broadway spoof +Dames at Sea. During the late '60s and early '70s, however, she suffered a series of theatrical disappointments, among them productions of +On the Town, +La Strada, +W.C., and Mack and Mabel; as a result, by the mid-'70s she was also regularly appearing in film and television roles. Peters' Hollywood breakthrough arrived in 1979 opposite co-star Steve Martin in The Jerk; two years later, they reunited for the fascinating flop Pennies From Heaven.