Bette Midler Opens Up “The Ann Richards Memorial Garden”

Chicago Tribune
Bette Midler honors Ann Richards, works nonstop for NYC
By Liz Smith, Tribune Content Agency
Liz Smith
May 6, 2014


YESTERDAY was a day when a great part of New York remembered Ann Richards. The aforesaid reporter Stanley describes HBO’s current documentary “All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State” by reminding us that it is a “glowing portrait of … the former Texas governor who died in 2006” as being “a lot less forthcoming about her rockier passages than she was.” (I will be conducting a symposium on Ann for HBO, with her daughter Cecile on May 14, at the Time-Warner Center, and what worries me is doing Ann justice.)

I must say that the great citizen and actress Bette Midler tried her best for Ann yesterday. Her Restoration Project opened “The Ann Richards Memorial Garden” up in Thomas Jefferson Park near the East River of Manhattan.

I feel that New York can’t do enough for the Hawaiian-born Bette, who has been sailing from higher to higher, first in nightclubs, then stage shows, TV, movies and most recently, on Broadway and in all kinds of theater. Bette, in private life, reinvents public parks, has her gang picking up garbage, tires and discarded machinery and makes this city more livable. (If you want to visit the memorial garden, you can access it at the southeast corner where East 114th Street meets Pleasant Avenue. Walk past the basketball courts and the garden is on the left.)

“What would I do without Bette Midler?” NYC’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg used to say when he was trying to run this city. And I expect Mayor de Blasio will feel the same and say the same in the future. And Bette’s Restoration Project will hold its own big fundraiser on May 29 with a big picnic in the West Side park that hosts Grant’s Tomb.

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