The entertainer, 68, on youth, the glass ceiling and her 30-year marriage
November 15, 2014
Iâ€™m incapable of doing anything other than entertaining. I can barely add and Iâ€™ve never been able to do my own taxes. Itâ€™s a good thing Iâ€™ve been blessed with this fantastic will to go forward, even when I hit the skids.
Fame and money was partly what drove me to leave Hawaii for New York to become a singer when I was 19. When you are poor â€“ and we were really poor â€“ itâ€™s human nature to want to better yourself.
Youth is the best driving force for anyone whoâ€™s creative. I was fearless when I was young. When you get older doubt sets in. But theyâ€™re not going to throw you out past 60 if you keep on being creative. They havenâ€™t so far.
My parents – both Jewish immigrants – were horrified when I announced I wanted to go into showbusiness. My mother thought it was fantastic, but she was afraid for me. My father loved me, but until the day he died he thought it was a total waste of time and that I should have been a teacher or a nurse.
Charm is something a lot of todayâ€™s young artists could do with. Maybe Iâ€™ll start a charm school, like they had at Motown. They donâ€™t see it takes more than looking cute and not falling over in high heels.
Thereâ€™s more to life than just sex. Itâ€™s at the forefront of music and everything else has a back seat. I donâ€™t think the pendulum will swing back for a long time.
The glass ceiling still exists. Itâ€™s getting a little better for women, but past a certain age, certainly not.
We were lucky to get hold of Beaches [Midler has a production company called All Girls]. No one was more surprised than me at how it took off and has such a place in the hearts of so many generations.
I would have liked to have duetted with Barbra Streisand by now. She is adorable. There was talk of a collaboration on her latest album and I wanted her on mine, too, but sadly it didnâ€™t come to anything because we were both buried in our respective projects.
Marriage is a hard proposition. My husband [performance artist Martin von Haselberg] and I will have been married 30 years come December. You have to be willing to make sacrifices and compromise, but we think itâ€™s worth it. We keep ploughing through and weâ€™re in heaven.
My daughter Sophie, now 27, is trilingual. She went to college in China and has just graduated from Yale drama school. Iâ€™m so excited sheâ€™s going to be an actor. I think what we did right was that we paid attention, we listened to what she said and we treated her as though she had worth.
Sometimes I know I sound ancient. But now Iâ€™m old I can say anything I damn well please.