BetteBack: Bette Midler struggles to the top in “Outrageous Fortune.”

Syracuse Herald-Journal
Bette Midler on her fortune: Outrageous!
By Joan E. Vadeboncoeur, Entertainment Editor
Thursday, J a n u a ry 29, 1987

Bette Midler knows just who she wants to portray her in her film biography.

“Madonna!” cries Midler. “She’d look great in that outfit!” That outfit is the one Midler used to wear when she was employed in a pineapple processing plant in Hawaii.

Speaking to television and film critics in Los Angeles recently, Midler described that attire as “a pair of jeans,’blouse wi th sleeves rolled up, button-down collar, a white apron, white paper hat and BIG white gloves.”

The recollection of the outfit and her days in the plant made her laugh, something she does frequently these days.

Midler has ample reason for good humor.

“I’ve had two hits and now I’ve got a maybe,” she said. The hits were “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” and “Ruthless People.” The maybe is “Outrageous Fortune,” a buddy comedy in which she teams with Shelley Long of TV’s “Cheers” fame.

“Outrageous Fortune” opens Friday at Shoppingtown IV and Penn Can Mall Cinema I. (Review on page Dll.) , Like “Ruthless People,” “Outrageous Fortune” is a release from Touchstone Pictures – the adult f i lm division of Walt Disney.

The notion of being at Disney brings a broad smile to the face of the singer-actress, whose name has of ten been identified in print as synonymous with bad taste. M i d l er hoot s, ” If Wa lt we re a l i v e, he p r o b a b ly
wouldn’t let me on the l o t”

But there’s more behind the star’s high humor t h an renewed success in motion pictures. “I’m happy as a clam,” Midler said. “I have a husband who adores me, a brand new baby, and a great home. I’ve got a wonderful life. This is as good as it geis. I might as well be Zen about it.”

Mi d l er and her husband, Harry Kipper, a performance a r t i st and commodi t i es t r ade r, became the parents of Sophie Frederica Alohe Lani in November. Frederica was chosen in honor of Midler’s father, Fred, w i th whom she says she “made peace w i th along time ago.” The Hawaiian, according to Midler, means “bright sky.”

Passing a r o u nd a P o l a r o id of S o p h ie at 6 w e e k s, t he n ew mother says, “She looks like both of us. She was an accident but a h a p py one. We may decide to have a n o t h er at the end of the year.”

M o t h e r h o od c a me to B e t te M i d l er s h o r t ly b e f o re her 41st bi r thday. But at the interview, where she wore her hair in a sing le p i g t a il a nd t o r t o i se s h e ll glasses, she looked like a college student.

Although Midler was between f i ve a nd s ix m o n t hs p r e g n a nt while f i lmi ng outdoor sequences for “Outrageous Fortune” in New Me x i c o, d i r e c t or A r t h ur Hi l l er claims he made few accommodations to her condition.

“A c o u p le of days, she had t ft q u it earlier than we a n t i c i p a t e d, but Bette u s u a l ly made it up by working longer the next day,” he says. “But we did do a lot of prepl anning. We would level the earth so the running up and down wasn’t as t o u gh or d a n g e r o u s. For the c l imbing, we put in … well, they were like steps.”

And, Hiller says, they used the s t a r ‘s s t u nt w o m a n f or any remotely dangerous segments.

Midler is high on success now, but that’s in sharp contrast to her condition not too many years ago.

“I thought I’d made the transition to actress w i th ‘ The Rose,’ but n o b o dy else d i d ,” M i d l er s a id.

“Nothing ever came of it. I was off the screen for a couple of years.”

E v e n t u a l l y, s he w as o f f e r ed “Jinxed” and leaped at the chance to get back on the movie screen. It
was a disjointed f i lm, and f i l m i ng was reportedly disrupted by Midler temper tantrums. “I was off the screen two more years a f t er that,” she said.

Her slumping f i lm career sent her back to the show business area that had made her a star – music.

Midler went into the recording studio and did an album, then hit the road to promote the disc. “I was on t he road
n i ne m o n t h s, a nd t he record never came out,” she complained.

“It’s a drag to spend all t h at t i me in a r e cord s t u d io for nothing.”

Consequently, the performer is r u l i ng out a concert tour for the immediate f u t u r e.

Be s ide s, M i d l er worr i es that she’d have to adopt an entirely new image. “They’re all doing my act. They’re doing standards and d o i ng t h em d r e s s ed f u n n y .

They’ re w e a r i ng corselets a nd pedal pushers like I do. It’s like seeing your closet parade before your eyes.”

Despite the “trashy” label that has b e en a t t a ched to her stage performances, Midler is quick to correct an interviewer who uses that t e rm. “I was tasteless, not trashy,” she says with a grin. “But my act was never even tasteless, I have brilliant taste.”

Undoubtedly, the latest Midler award tickles her sense of humor. She has been chosen to receive the luc i te popcorn box that symb o l i z es her h o n or at the second annual Moving Ball, to be staged Feb. 21 at the Hollywood Palladium.

Since she’s on a winning streak, M i d l er e x p e c ts to s t i ck w i th comedy.

“People will go anywhere for a laugh. I wanted so badly to be a leading lady and I still do. But the time is not right to pursue that.”

Her comedic i n f l u e n c es began as a child going to movies. Rather than the “weepers,” young Bette went to comedies and musical comedies. “I wa t ched Chaplin a long, long time. He used his whole body. I never was interested in Buster Keaton, because he never moved his f a c e. My f a ce is my i n s t r ume n t. I’ve always been a mugger.”

Midler says her attitude toward h er p r o f e s s i on h as c h a n g e d.

“Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. If you’ re not prepared for the loss, you shouldn’t be in this business. I did not have to feel l ike the wh o le world had come crashing down, but I did. I don’t have that pain now.”

Yet the, old performer’s insecurity hasn’t left the star. “I know this is all going to disappear. The
d i f f e r e n ce is I k n ow the system now. But it was very hard to learn.”

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