Sandra Bernhard Biography (Personal Life, Career)

Sandra Bernhard is an American comedian (or comedienne), singer, actress and author, first gaining attention in public in the late 1970s with a stand-up comedy routine in which Bernhard bitterly and often critiqued some political figures and celebrity culture. Sandra Bernhard made in top 100 greatest stand-ups of all times from Comedy Central, reaching number 97.

Personal Life

Sandra Bernhard is born on 6th June 1955 in Flint, Michigan. The daughter of Jeanette and Jerome Bernhard, with three older brothers, Sandra moved together with her family at the age of 10 to Scottsdale, Arizona. After graduating from Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, Sandra Bernhard went to live on a kibbutz in Israel. After the age of 19 she moved to Los Angeles where she worked as a manicurist in a high-end saloon.

On 4th July 1998 she gave birth to her daughter, Cicely Yasin.


Stand-up comedian Sandra Bernhard became popular at The Comedy Store, the well known comedy club in which activated and are still activating many stand-up comedians and actors. Bernhard grew very much as a comedian, and then she was cast to support the play in the comedian’s Richard Pryor stand-up video The Richard Pryor Show, in 1977. After this opportunity, many guest appearances on evening talk shows followed.

Sandra Bernhard took a pause for a while, and her big break came in 1983 when she was cast by Martin Scorsese to star as stalker and kidnapper Masha in the film The King of Comedy. For the part she had in this video Bernhard won the National Society Of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Her first one-woman stand-up comedy show performed was entitled I’m Your Woman, and it was produced in 1985. After the show an album version was released. Sandra Bernhard appeared in a variety of tiny film and TV roles in the 1980s. During this time, Bernhard crafted her stand-up routines into a more performance art oriented show, then she launched the show Without You I’m Nothing, With You I’m Not Much Better, in 1988. In 1989 it was turned into a film and a double of the same name.

Bernhard was a frequent guest in David Letterman’s NBC program during the run of Without You I'm Nothing, With You I'm Not Much Better. There she appeared with her friend and rumored lesbian lover Madonna, alluding to their lesbian relationship and staging a sexy confrontation.

In 1991 the comedian began playing the role of Nancy Bartlett on the hit sitcom Roseanne, appearing in 33 episodes between 1991 and 1997. Bernhard was one of the first actresses to portray an openly lesbian recurring character on American television. The role of the lesbian is one of her best known, about which she often laments in her stand-up routines as being both a blessing and a curse.

Sandra Bernhard released her first studio album in 1991 Excuses For Bad Behavior part 1 and then did a nude pictorial for Playboy in 1992 and continued acting in independent films and TV guest roles. Later on, in 1995 she briefly appeared as a guest in the animated talk show Space Ghost Coast to Coast, in 1996 in Highlander and in Will and Grace. In 1998 Bernhard returned to Broadway with the stand-up comedy video I’m Still Here…Damn It! At the time the comedian was pregnant. She continued touring and making smaller films and guest appearances after giving birth.

The comedian returned to New York in 2006 with the Off Broadway show Everything Bad and Beautiful, one of her best, released by indie label Breaking records. In 2007 appeared Plan B from Outer Space and the compilation Breaking For the Holidays. Bernhard toured Plan B through 2008 and performed Miracle of Lights on some morning shows in New York.

In 2006, Sandra Bernhard served as spokesperson in a commercial for Make-up Art Cosmetics, promoting Plush Glass lip-gloss. In 2008 she performed at Theater J of the Washington DC Jewish Community Center in which she warned Vice President candidate Sarah Palin to stay out of Manhattan and the Old Testament.

Bernhard was a featured guest singer with children's artist Dan Zane's on the Family Dance album's Thrift Shop. She also often addressed her childhood in interviews and within the context of her stand-up comedy, alongside her Jewish origins and her being a funny teenager.

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