From Broadway to Hollywood she has done it all
The iconic “Divine Miss M” singer and actress Bette Midler turns 74 today
Bette Midler was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1945 and was a shy child, but eventually discovered the arts and won several talent contests. She graduated valedictorian of her high school class and attended the University of Hawaii where she studied drama. Midler’s first professional gig came in 1965 where she was an extra in the film adaptation of James Michener’s novel Hawaii. Shortly after, she departed for the mainland and moved to New York City to pursue her dream of being a performer. Midler landed on Broadway in 1966 in the production of Fiddler on the Roof, but her success on the Great White Way didn’t last long. Midler landed a weekend gig at the Continental Baths, a gay bathhouse. There she developed a popular nightclub act as a chanteuse and purveyor of outrageously bawdy comic routines, going by the name “The Divine Miss M.” At one time, she was accompanied on the piano by the then-unknown Barry Manilow. Midler released her debut album, “The Divine Miss M”, on Atlantic Records in December 1972. The album was co-produced by Barry Manilow, who was her arranger and music conductor at the time. It reached Billboard’s Top 10 and became a Platinum-certified album, earning Midler the 1973 Grammy Award for Best New Artist. After releasing two more albums, winning a Tony Award and traveling with a revue show, Midler’s star on the big screen started shining brightly. In 1979, she portrayed a self-destructive rock star in the musical drama The Rose. She garnered her first Oscar nomination for this role and won a Golden Globe for Best Actress. Despite all of this acclaim, she found herself struggling after her 1982 comedy Jinxed flopped. Midler married artist Martin von Haselberg on December 16, 1984, about six weeks after their first meeting. Their daughter, Sophie von Haselberg, who is also an actress, was born on November 14, 1986. Miller’s film career would bounce back in 1986 with the hit comedy Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Ruthless People, and the 1988 drama Beaches. She won a Grammy Award for her performance of “Wind Beneath My Wings” from Beaches and was nominated for her second Oscar with For the Boys. Midler continued acting and singing staring in the films Hocus Pocus, The First Wives Club and 2004 The Stepford Wives. She returned to Broadway in the 2017 revival of Hello, Dolly!, starring in the lead role of Dolly Gallagher Levi. Her performance received rave reviews from the critics and earned her a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
Bette Midler performs “Wind Beneath My Wings” live on The Royal Variety Performance in Blackpool UK for the Queen
By Ken Warren, 2018
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