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Bernadette Peters, Icon of Stage and Screen, Dishes on Her Long Career, Getting Those Fabulous Curls and Staying Joyful

Learn about her favorite roles and new '90s throwback ice cream ad!

Bernadette Peters is the rare star whose appeal transcends generations and whose talents extend across multiple art forms. Whether you know her from classic movies like The Jerk or Annie, TV shows like Mozart in the Jungle or The Good Fight, or one of the many iconic Broadway musicals she’s starred in, from Sunday in the Park With George to Annie Get Your Gun to Gypsy, chances are good you’ve been impressed by the vivacious redhead’s performances at some point.

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In addition to her decades of acting and singing, Bernadette Peters is also appreciated for her work as an ice cream spokeswoman. That’s right — in 1992, she appeared in a series of commercials for Breyers ice cream, cooing with delight over their delicious flavors and vamping as only a true Broadway legend could. In recent years, the commercials have gone viral thanks to their ’90s style and playful sensuality.

Now, over 30 years later, Peters has teamed back up with Breyers for a new series of print ads promoting their CarbSmart ice cream line. In the ads, Peters poses with ice cream styled to look like an anti-aging cream. Breyers has also commissioned a survey, the CarbSmart Young at Heart Index, looking at how people over 55 feel about aging, with results showing that people feel more youthful when they enjoy a sweet treat.

Bernadette Peters in Breyers ice cream ad, 2024
Bernadette Peters shows off an “anti-aging” Breyers ice creamBreyers

Peters’ new Breyers ads are “tongue in cheek,” she says. Looking back on the original commercials, she says, “They were really well-written, and I had a great time” — and she’s clearly having fun once again. The beloved performer spoke to Woman’s World about her long career and how she’s maintained her signature charm over the years.

Bernadette Peters’ favorite roles

Reflecting on her long reign in the spotlight, the award-winning actress says, “I’ve been so lucky, I usually love every role, otherwise I don’t choose to do it.” Asked about her favorite Broadway roles, she understandably can’t pick just one but highlights some of her many collaborations with the late, great composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim.

Sunday in the Park With George was just a beautiful show about an artist and the creative process, and Into the Woods became so important to young people,” she says. “Gypsy really hit home for me because I actually was on the road with that show with my mother and my sister, so it was like recreating that whole experience. And I love A Little Night Music — ‘Send in the Clowns‘ is a great song.”

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Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin during rehearsals of Sunday in the Park with George, 1984
Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin during rehearsals for Sunday in the Park with George (1984)Bettmann/Getty

Peters names Pennies From Heaven, the stylized 1981 musical that was well-reviewed but commercially unsuccessful, as her favorite movie she’s been in. “It’s a really special film,” she says. “The Jerk is fun too, but Pennies From Heaven was really a special experience.”

Finding joy with pets and mindfulness

Peters has always had a glow about her, and her warmth is part of what makes her such a compelling performer. She cultivates this quality through her mindfulness practice, saying, “I meditate every day, and I think we can make a choice about how we want to feel or how we want to think.”

She continues, “I think you make a choice to say, ‘I’m going to think a better thought than that. I’m not going to go down that road.’ And if you could do that every day, and be open to people and be open to how they feel, and connect to them, that’s actually what you bring onstage with you. You bring humanity onstage with you.”

Bernadette Peters onstage in 2024
Bernadette Peters onstage in 2024Noam Galai/Getty for Jazz At Lincoln Center

Peters finds additional happiness and connection through her pets. She started Broadway Barks, a star-studded pet adoption event benefiting shelters, 26 years ago, and has two sweet pups of her own.

“Animals are very important to me,” Peters says. “Every morning I get up, I look at my dogs and they make me happy. They make me feel good, and then I go onto the next thing that can make me feel good. It all follows through.”

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The actress and singer with a dog in 2019
Bernadette Peters with a fuzzy friend in 2019Walter McBride/Getty

How Bernadette Peters stays balanced

With so many different types of projects over the years, Peters is perpetually busy. “I use all of me,” she says. When it comes to staying grounded. “The one thing I try to do if I have all these projects coming up is try to take it one thing at a time,” she says. “Once that’s done, then I prepare for the next one, rather than get overwhelmed with all the things that are on my schedule.”

Peters also gets fulfillment in beauty and style. “I love fashion, and I think that it’s important to make sure that the proportions are just right on your body,” she says. As for her famous curly mane, she admits, “I’m pretty lucky with my hair. I torture it a little too much with curling irons, but it’s important just to put a lot of conditioner in it, and take care of it that way.”

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The actress and singer in a 1979 photo shoot
Bernadette Peters shows off her gorgeous curls and retro style in a 1979 photo shootHarry Langdon/Getty

Ultimately, Peters keeps her sparkle through “living well and feeling good every day.” “I think about what I can be grateful for every day,” she says with a smile. We’re grateful for Peters — her positivity is truly infectious.

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