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Bette Midler

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Bette Midler (born December 1, 1945) is a Jewish-American singer, actress and comedienne, also known (by her informal stage name) as The Divine Miss M. During her more than forty year career, she has been nominated for two Academy Awards; and won four Grammy Awards, four Golden Globes, three Emmy Awards, and a special Tony Award.

Early life

Midler was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is the daughter of seamstress/housewife Ruth (née Schindel) and house painter Fred Midler, who worked at a Navy base in Hawaii.[1][2] Her parents were from Paterson, New Jersey and moved to Honolulu before Midler was born. She was named after the actress Bette Davis, though Davis pronounced her first name in two syllables, and Midler uses one, (ˈbɛt). Midler's family was one of the few Jewish families in a mostly Asian neighborhood[3]. She was raised in nearby Aiea and attended Radford High School [4] in Honolulu. She was voted in Hoss Election 1961 "Most Talkative" and in her Senior Year (Class of 1963) "Most Dramatic".[5] She majored in drama at the University of Hawaii (though she only attended for three semesters) [6] and earned money in the film Hawaii (released in 1966) as an extra, playing a seasick passenger named Mrs David Buff in the film.


Theater actress

In the summer of 1965, Midler relocated to New York City, using the money from playing an extra in the film Hawaii. She landed her first professional onstage role in Tom Eyen's Off-Off-Broadway plays in 1965, Miss Nefertiti Regrets and Cinderella Revisited, a children's play by day and an adult show by night[7]. From 1966 to 1969, she played the role of Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway; during this period her sister Judith, visiting New York to see her perform, was killed by a taxi cab.

In the summer of 1970, Midler began singing in the Continental Baths, a gay bathhouse in the city, where she became close to her piano accompanist, Barry Manilow. He later produced her first album, 1972's The Divine Miss M. It was during her time at the Continental Baths that she built up a core following. In the late 1990s, during the release of her album Bathhouse Betty, Midler commented on her time performing there:

"Despite the way things turned out [with the AIDS crisis], I'm still proud of those days. I feel like I was at the forefront of the gay liberation movement, and I hope I did my part to help it move forward. So, I kind of wear the label of 'Bathhouse Betty' with pride" [8].

In 1971, Midler starred in the first professional production of The Who's rock opera Tommy with director Richard Pearlman and the Seattle Opera[9]. It was during the run of Tommy that Midler was asked to appear on the The Tonight Show. She proved to be so popular that her career immediately skyrocketed.

1970-1990 Success

Midler released her debut album The Divine Miss M on Atlantic Records in December 1972. It streaked into Billboard's Top 10 and became a million-selling Platinum-certified album, making her a star in the process and earning Midler the 1973 Grammy Award for Best New Artist. It featured three hit singles with "Do You Want To Dance?", "Friends", and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" which became Bette's first #1 Adult Contemporary hit. Bette's self titled follow-up album was released at the end of 1973. It also zoomed into Billboard's Top 10 and eventually sold close to a million copies in the United States alone.

In 1975, she received a Special Tony Award for her contribution to Broadway with Clams on the Half Shell Revue playing at the Minskoff Theater. From 1975–1978, she also provided the voice of Woody the Spoon on the PBS educational series Vegetable Soup.

In 1979, Midler made her first motion picture, starring in the 1960s-era rock and roll tragedy The Rose, as a drug-addicted rock star modeled after Janis Joplin. Soon afterwards she left to go on a world concert tour, with one of the shows, in Pasadena, California, being filmed and released as the concert film Divine Madness. Also in 1980, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Rose. The film's acclaimed soundtrack album sold over two million copies in the United States alone, earning a Double Platinum certification. The single version of the song held the #1 position on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart for five consecutive weeks and reached #3 on Billboard's Hot 100. It earned Midler her first Gold single.

In 1981, Midler worked on the troubled project Jinxed!, a comedy in which she did not get along with her co-star (Ken Wahl) or the film's director (veteran Don Siegel). Released in 1982, the film was a major flop. Midler wouldn't appear in another film until 1986, and concentrated on her music career.

In 1985, she was a performer on USA for Africa's fund-raising single "We Are the World", and participated at the 'Live Aid' event at JFK stadium in Philadelphia.

Also in 1985, she signed a multi-picture deal with Touchstone Pictures. She was subsequently cast by director Paul Mazursky in Down and Out in Beverly Hills, beginning a successful comedic acting career. She followed that with Ruthless People (1986), Outrageous Fortune (1987), and Big Business (1988). She scored a hit with the 1988 tearjerker Beaches, co-starring Barbara Hershey. The accompanying soundtrack remains Bette's all-time biggest selling disc, reaching #2 on Billboard's album chart and with US sales of four million copies.

Midler lent her voice to the animated character Georgette, a snobbish poodle, in Disney's Oliver & Company (1989). In 1990, she co-starred with Woody Allen in Scenes from a Mall, again for Mazursky. She earned another Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for 1991's For the Boys co-starring with James Caan and directed by Mark Rydell, who had also directed The Rose. She reportedly turned down the lead role in 1992's Sister Act which instead went to Whoopi Goldberg.

Other films include Stella (1990), Hocus Pocus (1993), The First Wives Club (1996), and The Stepford Wives (2004). Her television work includes an Emmy-nominated version of the stage musical Gypsy and a guest appearance as herself in Fran Drescher's The Nanny.

Midler won an Emmy Award in 1992 for her memorable performance on the penultimate episode of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in May 1992; during which she sang an emotion-laden "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" to Johnny Carson. Another memorable event occurred that night, Midler began singing "Here's That Rainy Day", Carson's favorite song. Carson then joined a few lyrics later, and a piano soon after. She appeared on Seinfeld in the episode "The Understudy," which was the season finale of that show's sixth season in 1995.


Midler has guest-starred in various sitcoms over the years, including The Simpsons in the episode "Krusty Gets Kancelled" (she is first seen traversing a highway picking up trash when she is approached by Bart and Lisa with a request for Midler to appear on a show to revive Krusty's dying career). She also appeared on The Nanny in the aptly titled episode "You Bette Your Life". In 2000, Midler starred in her own sitcom, Bette. Airing on CBS, initial ratings were high but soon declined and the show did not last a full season, being cancelled in early 2001. During the show's short lifespan, Bette's daughter (played by Lindsay Lohan in the pilot, then by Marina Malota starting with the third episode) and her husband were recast (Robert Hays succeeded Kevin Dunn in the final episode aired). The show was also reportedly rocked by backstage turmoil.

Also in 2001, Bette or Bust, a book chronicling Midler's "Divine Miss Millennium Tour", was released.


Midler has won four Grammy Awards including the 1973 Best New Artist and the prestigious Record of the Year in 1989 for her Platinum-certified #1 Pop hit "Wind Beneath My Wings", the theme from Beaches. Her rendition of the 1990 "From a Distance" also earned a Grammy award (for the song's composer Julie Gold), and became her longest running #1 - six consecutive weeks - on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart. It also reached #2 Pop and was another Platinum-selling single for Bette. When the American Film Institute announced "The 100 Years of the Greatest Songs" on June 22, 2004, two of Midler's recordings were selected by the board: "Wind Beneath My Wings" (#44) and "The Rose" (#83). However, after years of erratic record sales, Midler was dropped from the Warner Brothers label in 2001, after nearly three decades with Warner Music Group.

After a long-standing feud with Barry Manilow, the two joined forces for the first time in twenty years in 2003 to record "Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook." Of the project, Manilow said he'd had a dream that he was recording with Midler again, so he called her up with the idea and she agreed that it was due time to work together again. Now signed to Columbia Records, the album was an instant success, being certified gold in only a few weeks. One of the Clooney Songbook selections, "This Ole House," became Midler's first Christian radio single shipped by Rick Hendrix and his positive music movement. The album was nominated for a Grammy the following year. worldwide [10].

In 2003–2004, Midler toured the U.S. in her new show, Kiss My Brass, to sell-out audiences. In early 2005, an Australian tour, Kiss My Brass Down Under, was equally successful. Midler joined forces again with Manilow for another tribute album, Bette Midler Sings the Peggy Lee Songbook. Released in October 2005, the album sold 55,000 copies the first week of release and debuted at #10.

Recent work

In 2006, a new Christmas album Cool Yule was released by Midler featuring the title song (written by Steve Allen) and a duet with Johnny Mathis of "Winter Wonderland/Let It Snow". Midler next starred in the 2007 film Then She Found Me, directed by Helen Hunt and starring Hunt, Matthew Broderick and Colin Firth, and appeared on the American Idol season 6 finale, singing "The Wind Beneath My Wings" live at the Kodak Theatre.

On December 6, 2007, Midler's album Cool Yule received a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.

Midler has a Las Vegas show titled "Bette Midler: The Showgirl Must Go On" at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace[11]. The show has approximately 400 shows[11] in a two year run[6]. The show comprises The Staggering Harlettes, twenty female dancers and a thirteen piece band. Midler is reportedly being paid $40 million per year for her 200 shows[11] The show debuted on February 20, 2008 [11][12].

A new "best of" album, "Jackpot: The Best Bette", was released in 2008 and reached #66 on the U.S. charts, and #6 in the U.K., where it was certified Platinum.

In June 2009, Midler appeared on the Bravo TV show "My Life on the D-List" with Kathy Griffin.

December 2009 saw Bette Midler appear on the British Royal Variety Performance in front of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. She performed "In my Life" and "Wind beneath my Wings" as the closing act.

Midler has confirmed that she will be releasing a new album in 2010, an album of new love songs.

Charity work

In 1995, Midler founded the New York Restoration Project, a non-profit organization with the goal of revitalizing neglected neighborhood parks in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of New York City. These include Highbridge Park, Fort Washington Park, and Fort Tryon Park in upper Manhattan and Roberto Clemente State Park and Bridge Park in the Bronx.

In 1999, the city planned to auction 114 community gardens for commercial development. Midler led a coalition of greening organizations to save them. NYRP took ownership of 60 of the most neglected plots. Today Midler and her organization work with local volunteers and community groups to ensure that these gardens are kept safe, clean and vibrant. In 2003, Midler opened Swindler Cove Park, a new public park on the Harlem River shore featuring specially designed educational facilities and the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse, the first community rowing facility to be built on the Harlem River in more than 100 years. The organization offers free in-school and after-school environmental education programming to students from high-poverty Title I schools.


See Bette Midler discography on Wikipedia.


  • 1970-1972: Continental Baths
  • 1972: Cross Country Tour
  • 1973: The Divine Miss M Tour
  • 1975: Clams on the Half Shell Revue
  • 1975-1976: The Depression Tour
  • 1977-1978: An Intimate Evening with Bette
  • 1978: The Rose Live In Concert
  • 1978: World Tour (Bette Midler)|World Tour
  • 1979-1980: Bette! Divine Madness

  • 1980: Divine Madness - Pasadena
  • 1982-1983: De Tour
  • 1993: Experience The Divine
  • 1994: Experience The Divine Again!
  • 1997: Diva Las Vegas
  • 1999: Bathhouse Betty Club Tour
  • 1999-2000: The Divine Miss Millennium Tour
  • 2003-2004: Kiss My Brass
  • 2005: Kiss My Brass Down Under
  • 2008-2010: The Showgirl Must Go On


Year Film Role Notes
1966 Hawaii Passenger uncredited
1969 Goodbye, Columbus Wedding Guest (uncredited)
1972 Scarecrow in a Garden of Cucumbers unknown voice
1974 The Thorn Virgin Mary
1979 The Rose Mary Rose Foster Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
1980 Divine Madness Herself/
Divine Miss M.
concert film
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1982 Jinxed! Bonita Friml
1986 Ruthless People Barbara Stone American Comedy Award for Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture
Down and Out in Beverly Hills Barbara Whiteman Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1987 Outrageous Fortune Sandy Brozinsky American Comedy Award for Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1988 Beaches C.C. Bloom
Oliver and Company Georgette voice
Big Business Sadie Shelton/Sadie Ratliff American Comedy Award for Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture
1989 The Lottery Short film
1990 Stella Stella Claire
1991 For the Boys Dixie Leonard Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Scenes from a Mall Deborah Fifer
1993 Gypsy Mama Rose TV movie

Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie

Hocus Pocus Winifred 'Winnie' Sanderson Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actress
1995 Get Shorty Doris Saphron uncredited
American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
1996 The First Wives Club Brenda Cushman National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1997 That Old Feeling Lilly Leonard
1999 Get Bruce Herself
Fantasia 2000 Herself / Hostess (segment "Piano Concerto No. 2, Allegro, Opus 102")
2000 What Women Want Dr. J.M. Perkins uncredited
Isn't She Great Jacqueline Susann
Drowning Mona Mona Dearly
2004 The Stepford Wives Bobbie Markowitz
2007 Then She Found Me Bernice Graves
2008 The Women Leah Miller
2010 Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore Kitty Galore


Year Title Role Notes
1976 Vegetable Soup Woody the Spoon voice
The Bette Midler Show Herself TV special
1977 Ol' Red Hair is Back Herself TV special
Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy-Variety or Music Special
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety or Music Special
1984 Art Or Bust Herself/
Divine Miss M.
TV special
1989 The Lottery Music teacher Created to demonstrate special effects; shown only at Disney-MGM Studios
1990 Earth Day Special Mother Nature
1993 The Simpsons Herself "Krusty Gets Kancelled"
1997 Diva Las Vegas Herself/
Divine Miss M.
TV special
Emmy Award for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy-Variety or Music Special
The Nanny Herself "You Bette Your Life"
1995 Seinfeld Herself "The Understudy"
1999 Jackie's Back Herself
2000-2001 Bette Bette 18 episodes
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy
2008 Strictly Come Dancing Herself Performed Wind Beneath My Wings
2009 Loose Women Herself Guest Host
Dancing On Ice Herself Performed
Strictly Come Dancing Herself Performed The Rose
The One Show Herself Guest
The Royal Variety Performance Herself Performed


Further reading

"A View From A Broad" 1981

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Bette Midler. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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