Bernadette Peters is an American actress, singer and children’s book author from New York City. Over the course of a career that has 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, Pennies from Heaven and Annie. 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, Gypsy, and A Little Night Music, 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 he was killed in a helicopter crash on September 26, 2005. Peters is known for her charitable work, including as a founder of the Broadway Barks animal charity.
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. Her father Peter drove a bread delivery truck, and her mother, Marguerite, 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.