Nice Little Bette OutLine

Photo: Michael Childers

Mister D: I’m at work on the computer, so WTF, I had to put this up. Still heed the info from the post after this Call me a flip-flopper, bi-polar (okay, “some” would say? I love internet rumours…), wishy washy, or whatever…I don’t give a rat’s ass, cause I Look Good (for 49) 🙂

The book on Bette
The Book On Midler
San Antonio Express-News
by Deborah Martin

Vital data

Born: In Honolulu, Dec. 1, 1945.

Bathhouses: As any Midler fan worth her copy of ‘The Divine Miss M’ knows, Midler first made a splash at the Continental Baths in New York in 1970, where her accompanist was towel-clad up-and-comer Barry Manilow. This is where she took on the bawdy Divine Miss M persona.

Musical bookends: She started her recording career in 1972 with ‘The Divine Miss M.’ Her most recent is ‘Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook,’ another collaboration with Manilow.

Theater: Midler was 28 when she did her first solo show on Broadway. Her second foray onto the Great White Way, 1975’s ‘Bette Midler’s Clams on the Half-Shell Revue,’ won a special Tony award ‘for adding luster to the Broadway season.’ She also brought a little taste of Broadway to the small screen in 1993 with her TV version of ‘Gypsy,’ in which she played (who else?) brassy Mama Rose.

Movies: Midler’s first big role was the lead in ‘The Rose,’ the 1979 film about a self-destructive rock star. It earned her an Oscar nomination and won her a couple of Golden Globes. She has forged a successful film career, including hits such as ‘Down and Out in Beverly Hills,’ ‘Ruthless People,’ ‘Outrageous Fortune, ‘Beaches’ and ‘Get Shorty.’ ‘For the Boys,’ a World War II musical, generally is placed in the ‘misses’ column, though it did win her a second Oscar nomination. Her most recent movie was ‘The Stepford Wives,’ for which she got some good reviews, even if the film didn’t.

Behind the scenes: Midler’s production company, All Girl Productions, has produced the films ‘Beaches,’ ‘For the Boys’ and ‘Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood’ and her swiftly canceled 2000 TV sitcom ‘Bette.’

Personal stuff: Midler has been married to performance artist Martin von Haselberg since 1984; their only child, daughter Sophie, recently started college.

Political voice: She campaigned for Sen. John Kerry. When a reporter for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle asked her to choose between making a new film or album and casting the deciding vote that would drive George W. Bush from the White House, Midler said, ‘I would like to cast the deciding vote.’

Suggested listening

‘The Divine Miss M’ (1972): Her debut release was remastered in 1995. It’s a collection of covers that Midler put a distinctive stamp on, including ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,’ ‘Friends’ and ‘Do You Want to Dance?’

‘Mud Will Be Flung Tonight’ (1985): More comedy than music, but a good reflection of Midler’s larger-than-life persona. And it’s still pretty darn funny.

‘Gypsy’ (1993): Midler did herself proud as Mama Rose in the TV version of the 1959 musical, and her sassy performance is captured nicely on the cast album.

‘Beaches’ (1988): Even folks who find the movie too syrupy may find the album appealing. Besides the Grammy-winning ‘Wind Beneath My Wings,’ it includes sharply done covers of ‘Under the Boardwalk,’ ‘I Think It’s Going to Rain Today’ and ‘The Glory of Love.’

‘Bathhouse Betty’ (1998): Won acclaim for recalling Midler’s early days. It includes ‘I’m Beautiful,’ ‘One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show’ and ‘Boxing.’

‘Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook’ (2003): It’s easy to see why Manilow was able to talk her into this project: Clooney, who died in 2002, knew how to pick ’em. The disc includes ‘On a Slow Boat to China,’ ‘This Ole House,’ ‘Mambo Italiano’ and ‘White Christmas.’


Bette on a divine evening
Deborah Martin
San Antonio Express-News

There’s just one way to see Bette Midler’s Kiss My Brass show — live.

She’s not filming it, so don’t hunt for it among the concert DVDs at or Target.

According to the Divine Miss M herself, that’s really the only way you should want to see it, anyway.

“There’s no point (to filming it),” she said from a tour stop in Omaha, Neb. “It’s a beautiful show, and I might be able to take it out again.

“I really do think that’s the best thing I’ve done. And (seeing it live) is the best experience, don’t you think? Everyone gets together and they laugh together. It’s not a solitary occupation; it’s much more fun when everyone is in the same room. It’s great for me and it’s great for them, too.”

San Antonians will get a chance to share the Brass experience with Midler on Sunday when she brings her show to the SBC Center.

As always, Midler’s not just giving a concert — she’s putting on a show. She’ll sing and dance; she’ll tell bawdy jokes; and she’ll shimmy yet again into her mermaid outfit.

The set is based on the way Coney Island looked at the turn of the century. Consequently, the music has a sandy feel to it.

“I made this movie called ‘Beaches,’ so a lot of the jokes that I tell are about being on beaches. There’s a happiness that comes when you’re on the shore. When the sun is shining, it’s fantastic — you throw your clothes off and have a whole other mood.”

Fans who have caught Midler live in the past no doubt will pick up on something different in her sound this time around. For the first time, she has a horn section (hence the tour title), and she couldn’t be more thrilled.

“I don’t think I’m going to leave town without them again,” she said. “They can play anything — they can do doo-wop or they can play swing or any old thing. It’s really very colorful and quite loud. I think the idea that you can do all that and be in the present and also in the past, I find really entertaining.”

She hasn’t had horns with her before, she said, partly because of the expense — “You have to put on the best show you can, but you can’t go into the hole over it” — and partly because it simply hadn’t occurred to her.

That aspect of the tour grew from the sessions she spent recording her latest CD, “Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook.”

“I had all these wonderful arrangements that Barry Manilow and his friends did for me that Rosemary recorded,” she said. “I had forgotten how fantastic it is to stand in front of a whole orchestra. It’s such a great experience to sing with all those people and not just a rhythm section. I really got excited by it, and it just pushed me over the edge into hiring them.”

The Clooney album was Manilow’s idea. He had a dream about them working on a tribute to the late songbird, Midler said. She grew up loving Clooney’s music, so she agreed to lend her pipes to the project.

“It was a very easy record to make,” she said. “It was done with a lot of love. If you’re a certain age, it’s all the music from your true childhood, when you’re 5 and 6 years old, the kind of stuff they were playing on the radio. It’s so much in my bones.”

At 58, she’s that “certain age.” She has been in the spotlight now for more than 30 years. She first made a name for herself singing in the New York bathhouses, a hip gig at the time. She went on to do a one-woman show on Broadway that was so spiffy, the Tony Awards folks cooked up a special award just for her.

While recording and touring, she also branched out into movies, racking up a number of hits and even scoring a couple of Oscar nominations. Just about the only area of pop culture she hasn’t quite conquered is series TV: Her 2000 sitcom, “Bette,” flopped.

After all these years, her favorite thing to do, career-wise, is performing in front of a live audience.

“I love it,” she said. “I do like to work and I like to travel, and I like to see the countryside and see what’s going on. I get a stronger feeling about what’s going on in the country when I’m traveling than when I’m sitting at home watching it on TV. I find it stimulating.

“On top of everything else, there’s not really all that much to do. I don’t make movies the way I used to; I don’t write books the way I used to. I like to work and I love the idea of creation — if you create a show, you really do have to do it. You can’t create it and not show it to people.

“The creation of it, and those rehearsals and the tearing your hair out is really … fun is not the word, it’s not exactly fun. But it is very interesting.”

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