BootLeg Betty

Midler At The Smithsonian

Portrait of Bette Midler by Richard Amsel

Blog_midler “She’s 5’1” . . . absolutely dizzy, and rarer than a homemade honeybun” raved an awed reporter in 1972 about the singer-comedienne Bette Midler, then performing at New York City’s Continental Baths. “Her hair is “red as a Pomegranate. . . . Her bosom is formidable. . . . She moves fiercely on tiny feet strapped into the highest platform wedgies since Carmen Miranda.”

Richard Amsel, an emerging talent who had recently won a nationwide contest to design the poster for Hello, Dolly!, caught her energy and flair in his 1973 poster. Midler’s accompanist, Barry Manilow, who produced her first and second albums, admired Amsel’s work, and Midler agreed he should design the cover and advertising art. His stylized strutting figure graced Midler’s second album, promoted a national tour, and here announced her appearance to sold-out audiences at New York’s Palace Theater in December 1973. A similar image was reused for later albums and tours.

Maya Foo, a researcher at the National Portrait Gallery, recently discussed this poster at a Face-to-Face portrait talk. It is on display on the museum’s second floor, in the exhibition “Ballyhoo! Posters As Portraiture.” The exhibition’s last day is Sunday, February 8, so see it while you can.

You can listen to part of the lecture here: Click Here (Just scroll about halfway down the page…on the left you’ll see a speaker phone….click on it to listen.)

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