The Divine Diva
‘Kiss My Brass’ tour marks the latest chapter in
Bette Midler’s epic life
By Paulette Tobin
Herald Staff Writer
If they made a movie about Bette Midler’s life, it would have to be an epic.
How else could anyone capture the story of the actress, singer, comedian, entrepreneur, wife and mother who in her spare time promotes environmental awareness through planting urban gardens?
Next week, the talented and spirited performer will bring her top-grossing and critically acclaimed show to the Alerus Center. Here’s a timeline of her life to date, should there be any doubt that she’s earned her Divine Diva title.
• 1945: Born in Honolulu and named after screen legend Bette Davis, although her first name, unlike Davis’, is pronounced “bet.”
• 1965: Drops out of college drama class, takes a tiny role as a seasick boat passenger in the George Roy Hill movie “Hawaii.” Moves to New York City.
• 1967: Takes over the role of Tzeitel in the Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”
• Late 1960s: Performs in New York City’s Continental Baths, a popular gay men’s meeting place, the beginning of her “Divine Miss M” persona and her loyal following among gay men. (Barry Manilow was an accompanist.)
• 1972: Releases “The Divine Miss M” (produced by Barry Manilow) with “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “Friends,” “Do You Want to Dance.”
• 1973: Wins her first Grammy (Best New Artist) and releases “Bette Midler,” making yet more blasts from the past (“Lullaby of Broadway,” “In the Mood”) into born-again hits.
• 1979: Opens “Divine Madness” on Broadway and writes a book (“A View From A Broad”) about her European tour.
• 1979: Stars in “The Rose,” a movie said to be based on the life of Janis Joplin, and is nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. Loses to Sally Field in “Norma Rae.”
• 1981: Wins Grammy for “The Rose,” the song that’s still her biggest hit.
• 1982: Her movie “Jinxed” (with Ken Wahl, who goes on to marry one of the Barbi twins) is just that.
• 1984: Publishes a children’s book, “Saga of Baby Divine.” Signs a deal to make movies with Disney. Marries Martin von Hasselberg.
• 1986: Stars in “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” with Richard Dreyfuss and Nick Nolte and “Ruthless People” with Danny Devito. Gives birth to daughter, Sophie.
• 1987: “Outrageous Fortune” is released; filmed while she was pregnant, which explains all the big, loose-fitting shirts.
• 1988: Stars in “Beaches” with Barbara Hershey, launching the three-hankie tearjerker single, “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
• 1990: Her new album “Some People’s Lives” contains the song “From a Distance,” the release of which coincides with and still remains linked to the first Persian Gulf War.
• 1992: Sings “One for My Baby” to Johnny Carson on his second-to-last “Tonight Show,” bringing the retiring talk show host to tears.
• 1993: Releases a greatest hits collection, “Experience the Divine.”
• 1996: Sings on the soundtrack of the kids’ movie “Oliver and Company” and stars in female revenge comedy “First Wives Club” with Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn.
• 2001: Sings “Wind Beneath My Wings” during the “Prayer for America” memorial rally in New York’s Yankee Stadium following the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
• 2003: Teams once again with Barry Manilow on “Bette Midler Sings The Rosemary Clooney Songbook” and kicks off the first “Kiss My Brass” tour.
• Early 2004: Becomes one of “The Stepford Wives” in the movie remake.
• December 2004: Midler’s second “Kiss My Brass” tour, the second-top-grossing concert tour in America, is set to arrive in Grand Forks Dec. 10.