BootLeg Betty

Musicals On The Screen: Where’s Bette?

Mister D: With the recent spate of musicals trickling on to the big screen, it just seems like Bette and other actresses who can really sing are being looked over. And don’t give me the bullshit about being too old…Meryl Streep in “Mamma Mia!” (where no one can really sing) and Michelle Pheiffer in “Hairspray?” There has to be something out there for actors/actresses that can really sing.

I’d like to see what you ladies and germs think. Is there a musical you’d like to see brought to the big screen that you think Bette would be perfect for….whether it’s the lead or a supporting part? Is there a bio of a deceased singer/actress that would be appropriate for Bette to do…for example Dusty Springfield, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, Wendy O. Williams? 🙂 What about a remake of an old Hollywood musical?

Let’s all put our thinking caps on and see what we come up with. Nobody will laugh at your favorite picks….except maybe me!!!! Just kidding. I just thought this might be fun, but hey, you may think it’s a bore….so we’ll see.

Love, Mister D

PS: If you’d like to give a reason why that would even make your choices better.

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36 thoughts on “Musicals On The Screen: Where’s Bette?

  1. I think any Mae West remake/bio would be perfect for Bette. I can’t give you any reason for my choice but it was the first thing that came to my mind…

    I’d also love to hear her singing Dusty Springfield songs, good idea Don. I’m not familiar with all the Broadway musicals, so I’ll let others suggest roles from that.

    Greets from the freezing Germany

  2. haha, i just watched “Hello Dolly” last night for the first time, and if they remade that nowadays, i think that Bette would make a great Dolly. She has that same kinda “flare” that barbra had. And Bette Midler…as a Jewish Matchmaker searching for love through song??? It’s a perfect match, lol.

  3. Yes!

    I think Meryl Streep is the greatest actress of our time (please don’t hunt me down!) and I really enjoyed Mamma Mia! and Streep can sing. Before she was trained in theater at Yale she took opera singing lessons from Estelle Liebling.

    Anyway, it’s rumored that Sunset Boulevard is in the making and Streep, Glenn Close, and Barbra Streisand are being considered for the role. I still think Bette Midler would be an excellent choice for Norma Desmond… Streep or Midler!? I can’t decide!

  4. Hey Mr D & All!

    Don, darling, you have opened a real Pandora’s box with this recent post.

    Well for starters I have always wanted to see Bette play Aunty Mame in the musical version made by Lucille Ball & Bea Aurthur. I read years ago that there were rumors of Bette playing the role after everyone saw how good and successful Gypsy was. And as an FYI – Gypsy had a cinema release in Australia. I remember it vividly, me in a cinema with 300 women aged in their 80’s and 90’s all of them thinking they still had the stuff to strut ….. never before have I heard so many bones break in my life when they all decided to high kick. Most of all I was surprised at how many didn’t wear any underwear, but that just may have been their dementia and they plainly forgot to put any on, I also remember it being very drafty in the cinema that day, now I know where the wind was coming from!

    I’ve also always wanted to see Bette in a Carmen Miranda style of movie, maybe even a remake of the movie “The Gang Is All Here” this movie will perfectly combine Bette’s singing, acting and comedy talents all in the one.

    Mae West and Sophie Tucker’s bio’s are others that spring into mind, even playing one of the Andrew Sisters in a bio about them. There are so many fabulous girl groups and solo singers from that era that Bette would suit beautifully.

    There is a whole list of other talents I would like to see Bette work with in a musical, but I’ll hold off on mentioning them because I’m curious as to see what other people have to say.

    But most of all I would love to see Bette write her own musical movie, star in it, produce it and direct it. If anyone has the talent to do such a massive job it’s Bette. And what a way to stick it up Hollywood Executives who think that women over 40 have lost it!

    Big Hugz!


  5. P.S

    I just wanted to add, that notice how I didn’t mention making a movie that involved wire coat hangers! LOL!

  6. Jacob…no arguing about Meryl….:-) There are a lot of good ideas…my main 3 were Mae Wesr, Sophie Tucker, and Mame (with Bette and Cher) Hello Dolly is ripe for a remake…Streisand was actually way too young to play the part when she made it, but I loved it anyway….but Bette making it now is a good idea….

    I hate seeing that Madonnna has the rights to Dusty Springfield’s movie…Bette would be great in that…

    I’d like to see her do The Merry Widow…she and Streisand were vying for the part years ago, but were thought too young. Now could be the time. It started out as a ballet, but was remade twice as a movie. You can google it to find out the synopsis.

    Manny I can’t see Bette doing her own, but I would love it. Good to see your sassy self back here!

    Love, Don

  7. I love everyone’s ideas! The studios are really passing up the some “no-brainer” collaborations…

    I would like to see Bette do a Ethel Merman biopic or play Sally Adams in Call Me Madam. It’s a musical about a socialite who becomes a United States Ambassador, travels to another country, and falls in love. You can watch it on NetFlix Watch Instantly. The songs are very catchy and the story I think is quite funny.


  8. Well, well, well…Don, my dear, you have tapped into my specialty! I am woefully bad at typing so I may not get as many down as I would like but, if we were talking I would have you sitting there bored for at least an hour with my ideas!!
    I will throw out a few here tho 😉
    First, Broadway to screen:
    Gotta go with APPLAUSE ( the musical version of All About Eve, for those who do not know)
    Can’t you just imagine Bette with those sassy lines??? She would be perfect for an updating of that near classic musical.

    I also think she could do a Bio of Beatrice Lillie. There was a Broadway show called An Evening with Beatrice Lillie where she told stories and sang songs. I could see Bette doing this ala TRU ( the wonderful one man show that won Robert Morse a Tony and Emmy)
    Beatrice Lillie was a hilarious storyteller and songstress. Bette fits that perfectly. It would almost be like watching a concert of hers.

    Obviously Hello Dolly no reason needed.

    HIGH SPIRITS a musical starring Beatrice Lillie playing a wacky Medium. this could also be perfe3ct for Bette. SHe would be hysterical in that kind of role!

    there is one called The Most Happy Fella. its a deep musical with many comical overtones. there is a supporting part that would be great for Bette .

    I would LOVE to see a screen version of ONCE UPON A MATTRESS. Bette would make a wonderful Queen. Bitchy and just a little evil 🙂

    and the last that I will suggest is WONDERFUL TOWN. Rosiland Russell won the Tony for best actress for it as did DOnna murphy in the revival a few years back. Bette may be a few years older than the character but this is one of those shows that would showcase her perfectly!! 🙂

    Gonna throw out a curve ball here….
    BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS. Could the lil Jewish girl from Hawaii fill out Dolly’s bra in a remake about ” a little bitty piss ant country place, nothing mush to see.” ???????

    and this is the one I have been saving.
    Bette in a remake of the unlauded classic Judy musical, I COULD GO ON SINGING.
    Imagine its like an older version of the Rose. Bette plays a famous singer who becomes reacquainted with the son she left with his British father so she could pursue her career. She could get that ever elusive Best Actress Oscar! its a film full of drama, music, tears, screaming, anger , emotion. Man Bette could rip it UP!!

    and that, my dear Don is my two cents!! 🙂 Hope I wasnt too long winded 😀

    love yas!

  9. Hi there form Australia!
    I’d also like to see some sort of Sophie Tucker or Mae West tribute/biopic, I had thought of Miss M in Mame, but I had pictured Goldie Hawn.
    I would also love to see a movie with Barbra Striesand and Bette about stage performers in years gone by, two ‘legends’ of the stage and screen who were so similar but never like or worked with each other, until they reminisce in an old aged home.
    Yet I also think that Bette playing Macbeth, or something dark and sinister, like the first two minutes of Hocus Pocus would be amazing. Over The Top psycho’s are always fun to watch!
    Robin Williams and Bette would be a crazy couple in a zany comedy; just add water!
    Her talent is so huge that I think the movie makers today just don’t want to take the risks that she created by being so damn good! The skies the limit, she can do anything. xx
    But most of all, an animated version of Delores would be INSANE!!! You know, the journey from Swimming to Singing… Let us imagine…

  10. God, these ideas are killing me. I want to watch so many of these old classics you all mention and I just might.

    I didn’t know Applause was the musical based on All About EVE…I would love that. And the Judy Garland pic seems interesting too, Andy….

    Delores and Saga of Baby Divine should be made into animnated films for sure. In fact Saga was optioned a long time ago by HBO but I don’t know what happened to it.

    I also think we have to keep in mind that the studios want this to appeal to a broad audience like Mama Mia and Hairspray…you theatre people and old movie lovers need to analyze that in your choices.

    Wasn’t there speculation about Bette and Nathan Lane in a remake of something with the word “dolls” in the title????


  11. Somebody needs to come visit me, sit me down, and make me watch some old Hollywood classics….


  12. If they do make a film of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, I would love to see Bette belt out “I’m Still Here” in it.

  13. OMG….that is one of my favorite songs…”I’m Still Here” I didn’t know it was from Follies. I’ve heard Elaine Stritch and Shirley MacClaine do it…and I always thought it would be a great number for Bette.

    Thanks for bringing that up……

  14. Well, I got news recently that it was greenlit (funny) that there will be a movie version of “Wicked”…and I think the petition should start now that Bette plays Madame Morrible. It’s definitely in the trends to do more contemporary musicals (I can’t see a remake of “On the Town” being successful but what do I know?).

    Or maybe there could be “Moulin Rouge”/”Across the Universe” style musical that incorporates pop songs…a jukebox movie musical (not unlike “Mamma Mia”).

  15. Well you have a good point about the contemporary stuff. I wouldn’t mind a whole new musical like Moulin Rouge with pop songs…as long as it’s a great vehicle for Bette….

  16. I’m sure of one thing: This subject put us all on fire.

    The first role that came to mind after Mr. D’s question was Norma Desmond in “Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Sunset Boulevard”. But I liked the idea of a Judy Garland biography (it must be done carefully. Garland’s following is big and thay can hate Miss M according to the way the film is made. Mame with The Divine One and Cher as her best friend would be great. Everybody could be reminded of Sophie Tucker by Bette.

    But “The Saga of Baby Divine” and “Delores DeLago” in animation are wild and wonderful ideas. Disney should make them.

    But I envision Dolly Parton as Mae West. She had thought of this sometime ago and even took some pictures.

    Meryl Streep is a superb and I don’t want to take anything from someone who has 2 Academy Awards plus 12 nominations! But take a look on this performance by Olivia Newton-John, Cher (who almost doesn’t sing), Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and The Divine One; and tell me: Who has the best voice and interpretation? Clearly is Bette.

    I really think that if she had received all the opportunities given to Streep, Miss M could have produced a more brilliant and tasty film career.

    One more thing: How about Miss M playing Carmen Miranda?! The Brazilian Bombshell’s life was an incredible journey and she was a very unique lady. They have/ had two of the most vivid and expressive set of eyes; they are/ were tiny; they have/ had great stage presence; they both work(ed) in film, TV, music and comedic parts; they both have/ had stars on The Hollywood Walk of Fame (Midler has one, Miranda has four.); but only Carmen has her hands and sandals on The Chinese Theater. By the way, isn’t it time for some production company arrange for Bette a space at The Chinese Theater?!


  17. I would only agree with another musical film for “The Best Little Whore House in Texas” if they used a new score. Dolly could write it! She has just done that for the Broadway-like musical “9 to 5” and everybody is very excited about it!


  18. Miss M seems to have no desire to direct a motion picture. She said she would dread to be in a cutting room for weeks.

    And I’m not sure she wants to ressurect her All Girls Productions. I think it’s risky to invest her own money. I’d like her to get productions by the very power of her talent and clout.


  19. I read that too Marcos…about Bette not wanting to direct…although I think she has a great eye for it. I’m afraid she’d never finish due to her perfectionism…I just don’t think she wants all that extra baggage of an AGP anymore. Money’s part of it, but heading a company takes so much more out of you…like you said…let her creative side speak.

    Love, D

  20. Spencer… I TOTALLY agree about Wicked! Wow, we would have the second coming of Winnifred Sanderson 🙂

  21. Well Manny….at least her box is clean (so far) Did I just say that!!!! OMG I’m a nasty nasty fairy!

  22. there are so many roles suited for bette.
    mame, dolly, mae west, ,mrs. morrible in wicked,the life of roz russell, the life of totie fields, life of sophie tucker, beaches part duex, life of ethel merman, the rose..older now.., she has nixed most of them. and hollywood is not knocker on her knockers.

    she needs a bonified hit..
    she won’t do b’way
    and she is in vegas until 2010.

    she needs a supporting role in a musical that has been proven hairpsray

  23. when I was in the fifth grade I suggested a screenplay of a Musical Mutiny on the Bounty. It had Bette AND the original Harlettes… doesn’t the mind boggle at this bit of creativity/fabulousity? call me…

  24. I think the perfect vehicle would be Mame. Ros russel did the quintessential version but I believe that Bette would be killer in it.

    Miss Jane

  25. I think it would be nice if Mel Brooks can collaborate with Bette Midler in a musical :)He’s very funny and original!

  26. That’s a great idea….supposedly they are a mutual admiration society. I know in the past, Mr. Brooks has expressed interest in working with Bette…

  27. Wow. Am I the only Bette head that recalls (and this is going in the way-back machine) All Girls Productions attempt to get a musical biopic of Lotte Lenya based on the book “Lenya – a Life” by Donald Spoto green-lighted? I know through a friend in the business they sent a script to Lisa Zane (sister of Billy) to see if she’d be interested in playing the young Lotte Lenya. Still think Bette may have this in the back of her mind to produce, perhaps as Lotte in her later comeback years.

  28. Scott! I remember that…I knew for some reason I was getting Lotte Lenya and Edith Piaf confused. That’s the way my mind works now…LOL That would be awesome if she went through with that….


  29. Wow…lots of great ideas for Bette!
    I always thought of Bette in the Hello Dolly roll (one of my all time fav movies) and what a great idea to cast her in a roll for Mae West – I’d love to see that!
    And how ironic is it that just when these comments started rolling and the mention of Bette as “Dolly” that, the next storm to brew in the Gulf was then named Dolly??

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