Show Business: Do Stars Grow in Brooklyn?

The dream is always the same. The star calls in sick. With only a few moments' notice, the understudy, who has been anonymously hoofing away in the chorus, swallows her fears and bravely belts out the opening number. The hushed audience listens critically, pauses for a heart-stopping blink of a second, and then lustily roars its approval. Another star is born. Of course, everyone knows this has happened a hundred times. But just try naming two headliners who were born that way.

It just may be that Lainie Kazan,* 24, was. When Brooklyn-born Lainie signed on as understudy to Barbra Streisand in...

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