BootLeg Betty

BetteBack January 29, 1987: Midler On Movies, Life, And Babies

Syracuse Herald Journal
January 29, 1987

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Midler and her husband, Harry Kipper, a performance artist and commodities trader, became the parents of Sophie Frederica Alohe Lani in November. Frederica was chosen in honor of Midler’s father, Fred, with whom she says she “made peace with a long time ago.” The Hawaiian, according to Midler, means “bright sky.”

Passing around a Polaroid of Sophie at 6 weeks, the new mother says, “She looks like both of us. She was an accident but a happy one. We may decide to have another at the end of the year.”

Motherhood came to Bette Midler shortly before her 41st birthday. But at the interview, where she wore her hair in a single pigtail and tortoise shell glasses, she looked like a college student.

Although Midler was between five and six months pregnant while filming outdoor sequences for “Outrageous Fortune” in New Mexico, director Arthur Hiller claims he made few accommodations to her condition.

“A couple of days, she had tft quit earlier than we anticipated, but Bette usually made it up by working longer the next day,” he says. “But we did do a lot of preplanning.

We would level the earth so the running up and down wasn’t as tough or dangerous. For the climbing, we put in … well, they were like steps.”

And, Hiller says, they used the star’s stunt woman for 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 with ‘The Rose,’ but nobody else did,” Midler said.

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

Eventually, she was offered “Jinxed” and leaped at the chance to get back on the movie screen. It was a disjointed film, and filming was reportedly disrupted by Midler temper tantrums. “I was off the screen two more years after that,” she said.

Her slumping film 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 the road nine months, and the record never came out,” she complained. “It’s a drag to spend all that time in a record studio for nothing.”

Consequently, the periormer is ruling out a concert tour for the immediate future.

Besides, Midler worries that she’d have to adopt an entirely new image. “They’re all doing my act. They’re doing standards and doing them dressed funny. They’re wearing corselets and pedal pushers like I do. It’s like seeing your closet parade before your eyes.”

Despite the “trashy” label that has been attached to her stage performances, Midler is quick to correct an interviewer who uses that term. “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 lucite popcorn box that symbolizes her honor at the second annual Moving Ball, to be staged Feb. 21 at the Hollywood Palladium.

Since she’s on a winning streak, Midler expects to stick with 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 influences began as a child going to movies. Rather than the “weepers,” young Bette wont to comedies and musical comedies. “I watched Chaplin a long, long time. He used his whole body. I never was interested in Buster Keaton, because he never moved his face. My face is my instrument. I’ve always been a mugger.”

Midler says her attitude toward her profession has changed.

“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 like the whole world had come crashing down, but I did. I don’t have that pain now.”

Yet lh., old performer’s insecurity hasn’t left the star. “I know this is all going to disappear. The difference is I know the system now. But it was very hard to learn.”

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