Annie Get Your Gun
“You gotta be original, because if you're like someone else, what do they need you for?” Bernadette Peters
Two-time Tony winner Bernadette Peters garnered rave reviews for her stage roles in the Broadway productions of "Song and Dance" (1985-1986) and "Annie Get Your Gun" (1999-2001). Peter, who began her career as a child performer appearing on such TV shows as "Juvenile Jury" and "The Horn and Hardart's Children's Hour" and made her stage debut at age 10 in a revival of "The Most Happy Fella," landed her breakthrough role of Ruby in the 1968 Off-Broadway hit "Dames at Sea." She has since starred in Broadway productions of "George M!" (1968-1969), "La Strada" (1969-1969), "Mack & Mabel" (1974), "Sunday in the Park with George" (1984-1985; 1994), "Into the Woods" (1987-1989; 1997), "The Goodbye Girl" (1993) and "Gypsy" (2003-2004).
On the big screen, Peters has acted in such films as "Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies" (1973), "Silent Movie" (1976), "The Jerk" (1979), "Pennies from Heaven" (1981), "Annie" (1982), "Pink Cadillac" (1989), "Impromptu" (1991) and "It Runs in the Family" (2003). She also starred in the TV movies "Once Upon a Mattress" (1972), "Fall from Grace" (1990), "The Odyssey" (1997), "Cinderella" (1997), "Prince Charming" (2001) and "Bobbie's Girl" (2002), as well as the miniseries "The Martian Chronicles" (1980). She also co-starred in the TV series "All's Fair" (1976) and had an Emmy-nominated recurring role on "Ally McBeal." Additionally, she has guest-starred in such TV shows as "The Closer," "Teacher's Pet," "Frasier," "Will & Grace," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "Boston Legal."
The youngest performer to have been inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame, Peters was awarded the President's Award at the 11th Annual “Mr. Abbott” Awards Dinner and inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. She is a member of the MTC Board of Directors.
More personally, this 5' 3'' star of stage and screen was married to Michael Wittenberg (an investment advisor) from 1996 until his death in September 2005. She was previously linked to actor, comedian Steve Martin (born August 14, 1945), whom she met while filming “The Jerk” (1979).
“I don't smoke, I don't drink much. I don't eat red meat. I stay out of the sun.” Bernadette Peters
Childhood and Family:
Daughter to Marguerite and Peter Lazzara, a bread business owner, Bernadette Lazzara was born on February 28, 1948, in Ozone Park, Queens, New York. At the age of 9, Italian descendant Bernadette changed her last name to Peters (after her father's first name) to avoid being typecast in stereotypical Italian roles (mafia, mobsters etc.) She has one older sister, Donna DeSeta (casting director) and a brother named Joseph Lazzara.
Peters was educated at the Quintano School for Young Professionals. She married Michael Wittenberg (an investment advisor; born in 1962) on July 20, 1996, at the upstate New York home of Mary Tyler Moore. He died in a helicopter crash in Montenegro, Europe, on September 26, 2005.
A good friend of Carol Burnett, Peters has made guest appearances on all of Burnett's series, including “The Carol Burnett Show.”
Song and Dance
When she was just three and a half, Bernadette Peters appeared on the show “Juvenile Jury.” In 1953, at age five, she appeared again on "Juvenile Jury," as well as in "The Horn & Hardart Children's Hour." One year after receiving her Actors Equity card in 1957, Peters made her New York stage debut in the musical "The Most Happy Fella" (1958).
In the early 1960s, Peters toured with the musical "Gypsy," understudying the role of Dainty June, and played a Hollywood Blonde in production numbers. This was her first professional collaboration with Stephen Sondheim.
At age 17, Peters moved to New York City to pursue a stage career. She subsequently landed a star-making role as the naïve Ruby in an Off-Broadway production of "Dames at Sea." She followed it up with performances in the Off-Broadway shows "The Penny Friend" (1966) and "Curly McDimple" (1967).
In 1967, Peters made her Broadway debut in the comedy "The Girl in the Freudian Slip," understudying the lead role of Leslie Maugham, before appearing as Bettina in Mary Mercier's comedy-drama "Johnny No-Trump," alongside James Broderick, Sada Thompson, Pat Hingle, and Don Scardino. She spent the rest of the decade in a tour of "A Mother's Kisses" (1968) and played the featured role of Josie Cohan in the short-lived musical "George M!" (1968; starring Joel Grey). She also had her first starring role on Broadway in the musical "La Strada" (1969), which closed on opening night.
The early 1970s saw Peters appear in "W.C.," a musical biography of W C Fields, and revisit her stage role of Josie Cohan in the NBC telecast of "George M!" She then garnered her first Tony nomination for her co-starring role in the revival of "On the Town" (1971) and supported best friend Carol Burnett in the CBS telecast of the musical "Once Upon a Mattress" (1972).
In 1973, Peters made her film acting debut in the Steven Spielberg-written adventure-comedy film "Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies" and co-starred as silent screen actress Mabel Normand, opposite Robert Preston's Mack Sennett, in next year’s Jerry Herman musical "Mack and Mabel." She also appeared in the film biography "W C and Me" (1976) and received a Best Motion Picture Actress in a Supporting Role nomination at the Golden Globes for her performance as Vilma Kaplan in the comedy film directed and starred in by Mel Brooks, "Silent Movie" (1976).
Peters was nominated for another Golden Globe award, this time for Best TV Actress – Musical/Comedy, for her turn as Charlotte (Charley) Drake, a 23-year-old liberal photographer, on the CBS sitcom "All's Fair" (1976-1977), opposite Richard Crenna and Michael Keaton. She also netted first Emmy nomination (for Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in Variety or Music) in 1978 for an appearance on the syndicated "The Muppet Show" (1977) and made her first screen collaboration with Steve Martin in "The Jerk" (1979).
Entering the 1980s, Peters had a featured role as Genevieve Selsor in the NBC miniseries based on Ray Bradbury 1950 science fiction novel, "The Martian Chronicles," and appeared as the schoolteacher girlfriend of Steve Martin in Herbert Ross' "Pennies from Heaven" (1981), for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actress – Comedy/Musical.
In 1982, Peters portrayed a rare, non-musical stage role in the Off-Broadway play "Sally and Marsha" and Lily in John Huston's film version of "Annie." In the following year, she starred with Mandy Patinkin in the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical "Sunday in the Park with George."
Peters won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Emma in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "Song and Dance" (1985-1986), in which she appeared alone on-stage in the first act. She then recreated the stage role of Dot in the Showtime version of "Sunday in the Park with George" (1986), which won her a CableACE Award for Best Actress in a Theatrical or Dramatic Special. She was also reunited with Sondheim and Lapine for the stage musical based on fairy tales, "Into the Woods" (1987), in which she portrayed the Witch, and made a dramatic acting debut in the ABC TV-movie "David" (1988), playing the mother of a boy set afire by his father. Additionally, she played the lead in the Merchant-Ivory production "Slaves of New York" (1989) and became the leading lady to Clint Eastwood in "Pink Cadillac" (1989).
Hitting the 1990s, Peters portrayed televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker, opposite Kevin Spacey, in the NBC biopic "Fall From Grace." Afterward, she played a supporting role in the James Lapine-directed feature "Impromptu" (1991) and recreated her stage role of the Witch in the 1991 PBS TV version of "Into the Woods."
Peters subsequently provided the voice of Rita the cat on "Steven Spielberg Presents the Animaniacs" (1993) and starred opposite Martin Short in the ill-fated musical version of "The Goodbye Girl" (1993). After making a recorded solo concert debut at Carnegie Hall in December 1996, she went on to play the Wicked Stepmother in ABC’s remake of "Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella" (1997) and voiced the character of Sophie in the animated feature "Anastasia" (1997).
Peters made her Australian concert debut in 1998 before portraying an overprotective Jewish mother in the independent feature "Let It Snow" (formerly "Snow Days," filmed in 1999; released theatrically in 2001), which premiered at Sundance. She also headlined a revival of Irving Berlin's "Annie Get Your Gun" (1999), for which she won a second Tony award. She then starred in the PBS special "Bernadette Peters in Concert" (1999), which was videotaped in London.
The new millennium saw Peters nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series at the Emmy Awards for her recurring role on Fox's show starring Calista Flockhart, "Ally McBeal." She was also nominated for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Special at the Daytime Emmy Awards for her starring role, opposite Rachel Ward as a lesbian couple who adopt a child, in the Showtime TV movie "Bobbie's Girl" (2002).
After co-starring in the TNT production "Prince Charming" (2002), Peters portrayed Michael Douglas' wife in the film "It Runs in the Family" (2003; co-starring Kirk Douglas) and undertook the role of Mama Rose in a Broadway revival of "Gypsy" (May 1, 2003 - May 30, 2004), which was staged by Sam Mendes.
From 2005-2008, Peters occasionally filled in as a guest co-host on the syndicated talk show "Live With Regis." She also guest-starred as Karen's sister on NBC's "Will & Grace," in NBC’s police procedural drama "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," and ABC's Golden Globe, Peabody Award and Emmy-winning legal drama "Boston Legal." She also appeared in an Italian film called "Come le formiche" (2007; aka. "Wine and Kisses").
Tony: "Annie Get Your Gun," 1999
Hasty Pudding Theatricals: Woman of the Year, 1987
CableACE: Best Actress in a Theatrical or Dramatic Special, “Sunday in the Park with George,” 1987
Tony: "Song and Dance," 1986
Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture Actress - Comedy/Musical, “Pennies from Heaven,” 1982