Midler draw laughs, tears
November 5, 1985
The most uproarious applause and most somber moment of a star-studded gala which raised Si.3 million to fight AIDS came during a comedy and musical routine by Bette Midler, who began her career singing before gay audiences.
Ms. Midler said Sunday she recently visited her former hangouts and found the “mood wasn’t quite the same. It’s like wartime.”
Performing before a predominately male audience of nearly 4,000 at the Metropolitan Opera House, the off-color humorist and singer said, “I remember all the friends I have lost in the war, and join my prayers with yours that it will be over soon.”
The generally upbeat gala, “Best of the Best,” included a ragtime ballet with Mikhail Baryshnikov, songs by Marilyn Home, Carol Burnett, Melissa Manchester, Peter Allen, Victor Barge, the Harlem Boys’ Choir and New York Gay Men’s Choir, and humor by Ms. Midler and Lily Tontlin.
The show was an East Coast echo of a September show in California, which featured Elizabeth Taylor, Burl Reynolds, Shirley Madame, and former first lady Betty Ford. It raised SI million.