has often addressed her childhood in interviews and within the context
of her stand-up comedy. She was born in Flint, Michigan, the daughter
of Jeanette and Jerome Bernhard. Her family soon moved to Scottsdale,
Arizona. She speaks of racially-motivated teasing during childhood,
stemming from being a young Jewish woman amongst those she describes
as "blonde WASPs". In particular, she speaks of the mockery
of her stereotypically Jewish features, such as her lips and nose.[citation
needed] During an appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show she stated
"I'm the only actress in Hollywood who didn't pay to have these
her family, Bernhard stated in her show Without You I'm Nothing:
"My father was a proctologist and my mother was an abstract
artist, so that's how I view the world". In the documentary
program Girls Who Do: Comedy, she discusses being a funny teenager.
After graduating from Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, Arizona,
she went to live on a kibbutz in Israel. She moved to Los Angeles
at the age of 19. During that time she made ends meet working as
a manicurist in a high-end salon.
became a popular staple at The Comedy Store. As her popularity as
a comedian grew she was cast as a supporting player on The Richard
Pryor Show in 1977. Guest appearances on evening talk shows followed.
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 which she won the National Society of Film Critics Award for
Best Supporting Actress. Bernhard later spoke of her contentious
relationship with co-star Jerry Lewis. In a 2006 interview on The
View she claimed he called her "Fish Lips", and that he
"wanted me to fall through a glass table in my bra and panties."
began performing her first one-woman show called I'm Your Woman
in 1985, and an unsuccessful album version was released. Bernhard
appeared in a variety of small film and television roles throughout
the 1980s while crafting her stand-up routine into a more performance
art oriented show. She launched an off-Broadway one woman show called
Without You I'm Nothing in 1988 which played at The Orpheum Theatre.
In 1990 it was turned into a film, also called Without You I'm Nothing;
and into a double album of the same name. In all three she notoriously
performed a ballad version of the Prince song Little Red Corvette;
in the film she did a strip tease to Prince's version. The film
was mostly filmed on location in 1989 in The Cocoanut Grove located
in The Ambassador Hotel.
this time in her career, Bernhard developed a very close friendship
with Madonna, and the two were frequently seen together in public.
The two made intimations of a romantic relationship, most notably
both appearing on the David Letterman show where Sandra joked that
she had slept with both Madonna and her then husband, Sean Penn.
However, the friendship ended badly. Neither has been direct about
the reasoning, but, when asked, Bernhard often hinted at a betrayal
on Madonna's part. (Bernhard would later state in her show I'm Still
Here, Damn It! that the two had made up.)
1991 Bernhard began playing the role of Nancy Bartlett on the hit
sitcom Roseanne. She appeared in 33 episodes between 1991 and 1997,
and was one of the first actresses to portray an openly lesbian
recurring character on American television. The role is one of her
most known, something she has lamented in her stand-up as being
both a blessing and a curse.
September 1992, Bernhard did a nude pictorial for Playboy. She hosted
the USA networks REEL WILD CINEMA for two seasons beginning in 1995.
Bernhard continued acting in mostly independent films and TV guest
roles; forays into mainstream films such as Hudson Hawk and Dallas
Dolls were all bombs. Her stand-up and one-woman shows continued
to be popular, however, and in 1991 she released her first studio
album, entitled Excuses For Bad Behavior (Part One). It was not
a commercial success.
1995, she briefly appeared as a guest in the animated talk show
Space Ghost Coast to Coast, in an episode entitled "Jerk".
In 1996, she guest-starred on an episode of Highlander: The Series
called "Dramatic License" in which she played a romance
novelist writing about the life of the main character.
returned to Broadway in 1998 with the show I'm Still Here... Damn
It!, which was recorded for a live comedy album. At that time she
was pregnant with her daughter Cicely. Cicely Yasin was born in
July 1998. For the next several years she would self-record all
of her live shows and release cheaply made CD-R versions which were
sold in the lobby of her shows. She continued touring and making
smaller films and TV guest appearances.
returned to New York in 2006 with the Off-Broadway show Everything
Bad & Beautiful. It was her first label released CD since 1998.
In 2007 she began touring with the show. The year 2007 also saw
the creation of Sandra's new show, Plan B from Outer Space. She
is set to tour with the show through 2008.
was a featured guest singer with world renowned childern's artist
Dan Zane's Family Dance Album. The song "Thrift Shop"
June 2006, Bernhard appeared on the television program The View,
and in a seven-minute segment, her commentary on race and politics
incited two of the hosts to rage. Bernhard is not a stranger to
the show, having appeared numerous times before, but her comments
on Mariah Carey infuriated Star Jones, who barely made eye contact
with Bernhard after the first two minutes. She was then asked by
Barbara Walters to discuss her opinion of Laura Bush, which sent
Republican co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck into an angry rant. Host
Joy Behar, a friend of Bernhard's, then left the stage (for comedic
effect), and the segment was cut short.
August 2006, Sandra Bernhard served as the spokesperson in a commercial
for Make-up Art Cosmetics (MAC). In the commercial, promoting PlushGlass
lipgloss, Bernhard referred to someone who might not approve of
her outspokenness as a "...little freaked out, intimidated,
frightened, right-wing Republican thin-lipped bitch". MAC edited
the line from the commercial to avoid unintentionally offending
some of its customer base.
performs classic pop music, jazz, and blues tunes. She has released
several albums (combinations of music and comedy) including:
Your Woman - Special Re-release in 2004
Without You I'm Nothing - Special Re-release in 2004
Excuses for Bad Behavior (Part One)
I'm Still Here... Damn It!
The Love Machine
Excuses for Bad Behavior (Part Two)
The Love Machine Remastered (entirely different than The Love Machine)
Giving Til it Hurts
Gems of Mystery
Everything Bad & Beautiful (2006) - Re-released in 2007
Live and Beautiful
No Intermission (Limited Edition) 
Young (7" Promo Vinyl Single only)
You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)
Manic Superstar (Promo CD Single only)
Phone Sex (Do You Want Me Tonight?)
On the Runway
Presents Stormy Weather song "Is That All There Is?"
Divas of Dance - Volume 3 (Remixes) song "You Make Me Feel
(Mighty Real) (Frisco Disco Mix)"
Breaking For the Holidays (2006); song "Miracle of Lights"
All of the CDs from "The Love Machine" through "Gems..."
have been cheaply produced CD-Rs, which is commonly what comedians
sell at their shows. In 2004 Bernhard re-released special edition
albums of I'm Your Woman and Without You I'm Nothing. The re-releases
of both included special tracks, as well as several guests to help
attract a new audience. Bernhard has stated that Excuses for Bad
Behavior (Part One) will be re-released in late 2007.
Smoking Popes recorded a song entitled "Sandra", a tribute
to Ms. Bernhard, wherein the singer Josh Caterer professes his obsession
Confessions of a Pretty Lady - Re-released in 1989
May I Kiss You on the Lips, Miss Sandra
Love, Love and Love
Shogun Assassin (1980) (dubbing voice for US version)
Nice Dreams (1981)
The King of Comedy (1983)
The House of God (1984)
Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird (1985)
The Whoopee Boys (1986)
Casual Sex? (1988)
Track 29 (1988)
Heavy Petting (1989) (documentary)
Without You I'm Nothing (1990)
Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991) (documentary)
Hudson Hawk (1991)
Inside Monkey Zetterland (1992)
Appeared in Cracker (band)'s Music Video "Low." (1993)
Sandra Bernhard: Confessions of a Pretty Lady (1994) (documentary)
Dallas Doll (1994)
Unzipped (1995) (documentary)
A Hundred and One Nights of Simon Cinema (1995)
The Reggae Movie (1995) (documentary)
Highlander: the Series (1996) (TV Series, episode "Dramatic
Catwalk (1996) (documentary)
Museum of Love (1996) (short subject)
The Apocalypse (1997)
Plump Fiction (1997)
One Hell of a Guy (1998) (voice only)
An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1998)
Somewhere in the City (1998)
Wrongfully Accused (1998)
I Woke Up Early the Day I Died (1998)
Hercules: Zero to Hero (1999) (voice) (direct-to-video)
Playing Mona Lisa (2000)
Dinner Rush (2000)
The Third Date (2003) (short subject)
The N-Word (2004) (documentary)
The Easter Egg Adventure (2004) (voice)
Searching for Bobby D (2005)
Twenty Dollar Drinks (2006) (short subject)