BootLeg Betty

BetteBack October 8, 1978: Bette Midler falters, then wows ’em In Germany

European Stars And Stripes
October 8, 1978

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HAMBURG, Germany (S&S) — Bette Midler, her three-woman backing group the Harlettes, and her nine-piece band played their German debut here Friday night, managing to close to a standing ovation after almost losing the mostly German audience several times.

She came on strong with the opening musical numbers but soon ran into trouble. Midler’s racy show, which displays her considerable talents as an actress and singer, is held together by humor — much of it verbal — which had Americans and
other English speakers in stitches, but left many Hamburgers confused.

She finally regained control of the house after several false starts by falling back on songs, dance and mime and really hit her stride when going into one of her standards, “Do You Want to Dance?

Beckoning to a member of the audience, she was surprised and pleased to find that he did indeed want to dance and they went through the number together on stage.

After the show she said it was one of the hardest nights of her career. “I most certainly was probing around,” she replied when asked about the low points in the act.

“I was doing my damndest. But now we know the Germans a little bit better. And next time we work, which will be Sunday night in Munich, we’ll know a little bit more.”

A short (5-foot-l) buxom redhead, Midler got her start in the movies as an extra in the film “Hawaii.” She left the islands shortly after that for a shot at Broadway, where she wound up spending three years in the major role of Tzeitel in “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Her wide range of styles as a singer — especially her skill at bringing the hit music of previous decades to life — led to success first as a live attraction in New York and then as a nationally known recording star.

Midler’s most recent project is a starring role in “The Rose” — a film about the entertainment world of the 60s. Her remaining dates in Europe: Munich (Oct. 8), Paris (10), Amsterdam (14-15). The Hague (17), Antwerp (18) and Frankfurt (19).

The tour continues with three weeks in Australia and winds up in Hawaii.

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