Showstopper Bette Midler opts for ‘Gypsy’s’ show tunes
December 2, 1993
“GYPSY” was a smash Broadway musical that introduced many songs that have become timeless standards – tunes like “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “Let Me Entertain You.” Playing the starring role made famous by Ethel Merman in the 1959 smash, the incomparable Bette Midler makes her network film debut in a new three-hour version.
“Show tunes are such a peculiar thing in American life,” said Midler, who has incorporated many on her latest tour, “because most people who are interested in rock ‘n’ roll or popular music or rhythm ‘n’ blues don’t want anyone to know that they’re closet show tune listeners. But I am.”
Midler heads the cast as Rose, the quintessential pushy stage mother of legendary strip tease artist Gypsy Rose Lee. Premiering on CBS on Sunday, Dec. 12, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT), the musical drama costars Peter Riegert as her daughters’ manager and Rose’s love interest, Ed Asner as her father, Michael Jeter as a booking agent and Cynthia Gibb as daughter
Louise, who blossoms into Gypsy Rose Lee.
Now Midler takes her bow, performing most of her vocals live – a rare occurrence in these days of studio dubbing and overdubbing. She enjoyed having her 6-year-old daughter Sophie, by her marriage to Martin Von Haselberg, visit the
set. “She had a wonderful time with all the characters,” said Midler. “She loved meeting Pete. She just loved those three strippers. … She knew every single song.”
But unlike her character, Midler doesn’t want her own daughter to enter show business.
“1 don’t want her to have to suffer all those things – ‘you’re too tall, you’re too short, you’re too thin, you’re too fat, you’re too dark, you’re too light, you don’t sing high enough, you don’t sing low enough.’ It wears away at your soul after a while.”
After all, Midler’s parents never pushed her into the business. “My parents were not stage parents,” said Midler. “My father disapproved of any kind of show business-except for Phil Silvers.