By contributor
updated 9/12/2007 9:03:39 AM ET 2007-09-12T13:03:39

Even the pros have moments of terror about going onstage. Below are some famous performers and their experiences with stage fright:

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Andrea Bocelli
The operatic tenor told Connie Chung in an interview that he's constantly afflicted by a stage fright that lasts almost his entire performance. No beta blockers for Bocelli: "I think I don't want to use drugs or medicine, so nothing," he said. "The only way is to go on stage and to hope."

Renee Fleming
In her autobiography, the celebrated soprano recalls her unexpected attack of nerves: "Nothing had happened to precipitate it, nothing had changed, but without warning, my throat closed up entirely." Though she recovered, the experience left her temporarily miserable, physically and emotionally debilitated, and pondering a new future out of the limelight.

Glenn Gould
The renowned classical pianist retired from playing in front of a live audience at age 32 because of his discomfort with public recitals, retreating into the world of studio recording and radio performance. "I detest audiences. I think they are a force of evil," he once said.

Ian Holm
During a 1976 performance of "The Iceman Cometh," Holm walked offstage and refused to return. "Something just snapped," he remembered in a 1998 interview. "Once the concentration goes, the brain literally closes down." He focused on film and television work and, apart from one performance a few years later, didn't return to the stage until 1993.

Rod Stewart
In 1968, the Rod Stewart-fronted Jeff Beck Group made its U.S. debut at New York's Fillmore East theater. Stewart was so nervous that he sang the entire first song from behind a stack of speakers.

Laurence Olivier
The man often considered the greatest actor of the 20th century didn't face the dreaded affliction until late middle age, but then it hit him hard. In one run at London's National Theatre, Olivier had to have the stage manager push him onstage every night.

Carly Simon
The singer has had such a hard time with stage fright that she has at times poked herself in the hand with safety pins. On one memorable occasion that she recounted to The New Yorker's John Lahr, she asked her entire band's horn section to spank her just before the curtain rose.

Barbra Streisand
After forgetting the lyrics to one of her songs during a 1967 Central Park concert, Babs stopped performing live for almost three decades, fearing that she'd have the same problem again. "Some performers really do well when they forget the words," she told Diane Sawyer recently. "They forget the words all the time, but they somehow have humor about it. I remember I didn't have a sense of humor about it. I was quite shocked."

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