One of Bette Midlerâ€™s biggest fans worldwide is Australian photographer, Jo-Anna Robinson. Jo-Annaâ€™s interest in the Divine Miss M began when she was seven years old. It was all the self-confessed fault of Joannaâ€™s mum who went to see the movie, ‘Beaches’. Her enchantment with the music meant that it was played night and day and young Jo-Anna tuned into it in a big way.
Anything that had Betteâ€™s name or her picture on it or in it would be fair game to be cut out and stuck into a scrap book. When Jo-Anna was eight she decided to write to Bette inviting her to come and stay at her place. The offer wasnâ€™t taken up but this didnâ€™t inhibit Jo-Annaâ€™s passion.
In Jo-Annaâ€™s huge and encompassing collection, there are magazine and newspaper clippings of Bette, still photographs from her movies and performances, complete magazines, lobby cards, filming invitations and movie booklets, as well as the typical merchandise of coffee cups, and so on. Jo-Anna uses folders to store and display her collection. She has seventeen to date.
As well, there’s an extensive collection of posters from Betteâ€™s movies, album releases and concerts. Although Betteâ€™s music is all on CD, where she can Jo-Anna collects the vinyl records as well and VHS format movies.
The most valuable item in the collection is a sweater Bette wore in a television series. It has Betteâ€™s signature on the front and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from her charity. A Barbie doll mermaid called Delores de Lago, a stage character that Bette played, was worth $30 at a concert, and now itâ€™s worth around $350.
Another rare and rather personal piece in the collection is a year book from Betteâ€™s High school. Itâ€™s full of photographs of Bette as a youngster.
Some of Jo-Annaâ€™s most precious mementos are photographs. As a sixteen year old she got a cadetship with the Advertiser and the Sunday Mail. In 2005 Jo-Anna was given the opportunity of being the newspaperâ€™s photographer for the first show, Kiss My Brass in each state. Jo-Anna has tickets from each one of the shows. But more astonishing, Joanna and her mum were invited to meet Bette after the show in Sydney. The photograph of the three of them shows how excited Jo-Anna was at meeting Bette and the huge honour it was to be invited to meet her. Everything Jo-Anna hoped Bette was, was satisfied and they now have a mutual, and respectful friendship.
Jo-Anna printed photographs of the 2005 Australian tour and took them with her to Las Vegas when Bette was performing, and asked Bette to sign them. Bette loved the photographs and said that she wanted to use them on an album cover. Jo-Anna printed up the signed photographs and sent them off to Bette. A hand-written signed reply said, â€œThe pictures are just great, in fact some of the best Iâ€™ve ever seenâ€.
Bette Midler has been a big part of Jo-Annaâ€™s life for so long that she can understand why some people donâ€™t understand her passion for the star. Even Jo-Anna doesnâ€™t fully understand it, but she doesnâ€™t care; sheâ€™s happy to keep collecting all things Bette Midler.
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