Brits know her best as Nancy the bisexual in Roseanne and Madonna's rumoured other half. A cabaret artiste who delights in standing convention crudely on its head.
The daughter of a proctologist and an abstract artist, American comedienne/actress/vocalist Sandra Bernhard moved to Arizona when she was still in high school.
Opening her eyes to more diverse culture provided her with a left-field take on American life, and she made her stand-up comedy debut, aged 19.
Moving to Hollywood, she gigged at local comedy clubs, receiving her big break by becoming a regular on the 'Richard Pryor' show, two years later. With the show short-lived, she returned to clubland, developing her witty and provocative one-woman satirical stand-up act.
The critics loved the ferocity and danger of her cutting-edge, off-kilter humour, and her discourses on spirituality and sexuality, and predicted for her a future on the screen. Whilst controversial and sexually ambiguous, Bernhard nonetheless kept her own sexual preference to herself.
She appeared opposite Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s satirical stand-up comedy classic, ‘King of Comedy’. She also appeared with Madonna in ‘Truth or Dare’, forging a close relationship with the singer, which set tongues wagging. However, a similarly funky performance opposite Bruce Willis in 1990’s ‘Hudson Hawk’ did nothing to rescue the film.
Working on her music, she debuted as a vocalist with 1985’s ‘I’m Your Woman’, which was a critical success. Moving into off-Broadway musical theatre with ‘Without You I’m Nothing’, in 1988, the show spawned a movie in 1990, and a hit soundtrack.
She spent the nineties writing her autobiography, ‘Confessions of a Pretty Lady’, appearing regularly on ‘Roseanne’ and, finally, outing herself as a lesbian.
In 1998, Bernhard returned to theatre with the one-woman show ‘I’m Still Here...Damn It!’ on Broadway, to rave reviews.
She has continued to appear regularly on TV and in films and documentaries.