Bette Midler, center, laughs during an unexpected reunion with Barry Manilow, at piano, and members of the ‘Harlettes,’ during a taping of ‘The Roseanne Show,’ Tuesday, Oct.6,1998, in Los Angeles. Harlettes are, left to right, Melissa Manchester, Jennifer Lewis, Linda Hart, Charlo Crossley-Fortier and Gail Kantor. Roseanne is at far left. Manilow was Midler’s original piano player. (AP, MICHAEL BRITT)
Apparently, the Divine One was not amused by the surprise. Both Bette and Barry covered what happened next in later interviews. Bette had what she thought was an ironclad promise from Roseanne that she, Bette, was not expected to sing. The reunion with Barry, Melissa and the Harlettes seemed cheerful and fun, but during a commercial break, Bette broke the mood by tearing into Roseanne and her producers. Bette’s explosion continued after the show. She and Barry ended up sharing some words they wished they could take back, and Barry, wanting no part of the negativity, stopped speaking to her. The breakup seemed permanent until, one night, many years later, Barry dreamed that he and Bette worked on a tribute album to the beloved Rosemary Clooney and the next day called her up. Neither claimed to have ever apologized, simply that they started up where they left off. The renewed partnership resulted in two successful tribute albums (for Clooney and Peggy Lee) with rumors of an anticipated third.