It’s the girl! Bette Midler! AMA!
Hi Bette! Since you were named after her, do you have a favorite Bette Davis film? You were very hands-on in the making of Beaches. Did you enjoy the process of filmmaking in that aspect or do you prefer acting? How do you feel about the cult status of Hocus Pocus?
OH MY GOD, I love them all! I’m an inveterate Bette Davis watcher. I think I would have to say, hmm, I would have to say I love Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. She’s at her most extreme. Let me think, let me think, let me think… no, I’m going to stick with Baby Jane.
No, actually, that was a real… blessed project. I was a producer on it, we got the script, it came from Iris Dart, who had written the book. We had production company called All Girl productions, we were based at Disney on the Disney Lot, for about 10 years, and that was one of the few things we managed to get going. But it was wonderful from start to finish. I really enjoyed the producing part of it. It’s fascinating and full of detail, and for an OCD person like me, it’s perfect.
SHOCKED. I’m totally shocked. All of us are just stunned. Kathy, Sarah Jessica and I have talked about it. We are totally thrilled to death. Because when it came out, it laid a tiny little bit of an egg, so we didn’t expect much. And now look at it! OCTOBER is HOCUS POCUS MONTH!
Hi, Bette. My mom a big fan of yours. Do you plan on doing another comedy movie now?
I have no plans to do a comedy movie.
Congratulations on the new record, Miss M. Your version of Waterfalls is gorgeous, and Tell Him has become my new personal theme song. Out of all the incredible girl group songs out there, how did you come to choose the 15 songs that ended up on the album? And while we’re here, I must confess that, hand on heart, Hocus Pocus is my most watched movie ever. I took a trip to Salem recently and it was a quasi-religious experience. For a gay boy of a certain age, it’s basically the equivalent of a trip to the Vatican. I’m sure you’re asked this at least two dozen times a day, but do you think there will ever be a sequel? Surely there are few virgins left to light that candle one more time.
Well, a lot of them – a number of them – are real personal favorites, like It’s the Girl, the Anna & Kate song, which I had been thinking about recording for years… Waterfalls, which I wanted to record from the first time I heard it. The uptempo songs are old favorites of mine, too, I mean, I was a kid when those records were popular, and they all hold real strong memories for me.
HAHAH! You know… I think I should watch it again. I had no idea it had such a powerful effect! We had a LOT of fun making it, and the stories are legendary. I was very proud of Winnie, because that was the first – and really one of the only times – I disappeared in a movie. And the character stood on her own. And she just loves it! HAHAHAH!Yes. The villains are the most fun to play.
Someone asked what character I would play: In the whole WORLD?!?
Oh, I think Lady MacBeth could be fun. I think Mae West would be fun… Mame, I think Auntie Mame would be fun. I like the big ones, you know? The big characters, who take life with both hands and just chew it to bits. I love that.
And what villains are there? The Borgias? There are no great real big… Miss Marple. I would love to play Miss Marple.
Oh I adore your parents. Tell you parents I am coming on the road and to come see me.
You look great. What’s your secret?
Uh, great glam squad. Great hairdresser, great makeup artist, great lighting, you know? Keep your skin clean, exfoliate exfoliate exfoliate, and tell them to just, all go to hell!
What do you do for fun? What do you do to relax?
I’m a reader. I’m a reader.
Hi Mrs. Midler, First thank you for doing this! I have been a fan of yours since I was a little girl and saw The Rose (although I was probably way too young to be watching it lol) When I was 10 you were on the cover of Vanity Fair and I decided to write you a letter. I put all the details of my 10 yr old life sealed it in an envelope and addressed it to you (without a stamp…I was 10!). A few days later (after I checked my mail box hourly crying that nothing was there) your Vanity Fair showed up at my house signed!! I am now 33 and only learned 3 years ago it wasn’t real 🙁 in fact it was my crazy Jewish mother who couldnâ€™t take me crying and loves me enough to fake your autograph. If you were me who would your mom have forged a signature of for you? Who would your person be? And what would your response have been two decades later when you found out the truth? I cried by the way lol PSâ€¦Can’t wait to see you May 22nd in Vegas!
OH MY GOD, your mother is a SAINT!
And give me your address, I will send you one, if I can dig one up. Your mother is a saint.
What a wonderful story.
I used to write to Stan Laurel, when I was 10. We had a B&W television, and the Laurel & Hardy shorts were on every day, and I watched them religiously, and I worshiped Stan Laurel. And someone, in Santa Monica, was writing me back on this beautiful fine blue-lined paper. And I loved it. They answered every question. It was kindness personified. So I know how you feel.
Hi Bette, Is it true that you will have Jake Shimabukuro as the opening act for your upcoming tour?
No, it is not true! I heard that rumor was going around, and I do love Jake, but I’ve never had an opening act! Although if I did have one, he would be in the running. He’s a great musician and a great friend.
How is Delores De Lago? Will she be touring with you in 2015?
I hope not! I kind of feel like I put her to bed. When we were in Vegas, we had 21… 21 mermaids, in wheelchairs. And that was like the apotheosis. I can’t do any better than that. that was like her crowning glory. I can never do as well.
What am I trying to say?
That was the ultimate Delores. There might be a little film or montage or a piece of her triumphs but I… sigh.
She’s really hard to put together, and I really want to put her to bed.
What is your most favourite movie role of yours?
I’d have to say The Rose is my favorite. That was the one when I was surrounded by people who loved me, and they really wanted to launch me in a big way, and it was a once in a lifetime occurrence, so I have to say that one.
Hello, Bette!! I’m a huge fan! Hocus Pocus is my favorite movie!! I have one question: Did you get to keep anything from the set of Hocus Pocus?
I kept the teeth.
Hey Bette, What has been your oddest fan encounter?
Oh… I’ve had a few. They usually happen in foreign countries. And with people who don’t speak english. But we love them ! I can’t really say I’ve had too many. Most of my fans are really kind of fabulous. They are devoted to glamour and glory and gold, and wit, and so I love them and they love me back.
Which actress do you consider your best friend?
I don’t have a best friend actor. I have a lot of good friends. I have a lot of actors that are really good friends. And I really enjoy spending time with actors, we talk about the people we love and hate. I know Glenn Close pretty well, Sarah Jessica Parker is a friend, Susan Sarandon is a friend, Candice Bergin is a friend, I love actors. I do love to spend time with actors, we always laugh hysterically.
Are you aware of the 20-something males like myself that are huge fans of yours simply because your music was the background of our childhood? Seriously, my mom blared your music all day long while I was at home playing during the day, and I love it now.
Hahaha! Oh my god. What a wonderful story. Oh my god, that’s like my grandchildren, right? Great to hear. I’m delighted. Thank your mother for me.
What was it like working with the people of Seinfeld?
You know, it was so peculiar. But fabulous, of course, I’m a huge fan. At the time I was not a huge fan, because i was in my own world and doing my own thing, but I became a huge fan.
This is the story: a girlfriend of mine, whose name was Margery Gross, was very ill, She was a staff writer on Seinfeld, and I heard through the Grapevine that she had written an episode for me and I wanted to do it. I had always liked her, so I wanted to do that for her. And I did. And she died not long after that, so I was glad I did it.
Hi, Bette! Of all your albums, which are you most fond of? I think my personal favorite is Songs For the New Depression.
You know, that’s a really bubbling under record. Not many people know that because it wasn’t a hit when it came out. It was a labor of love, I had left a lot of people behind me, Barry Manilow had gone on his own way, and I was left on my own devices. I started writing songs, and hooked up with a guy named Moogie Klingman, and we were in that studio for a long time, you know, we wrote… and it was very different than anything I’d had happen before. Because the two records I’d made before that were company records, and this was my own record, and it was a stiff. But I liked the music on it.
I’m very happy with this new one. They’re not all fun to make. Some albums are like contract things you have to make, but this one wasn’t like that. I worked with Mark Shaman, who wasn’t like that, and who not only knows it like the back of his hand, he has a huge amount of expertise, but it was also great fun.
I loved the album of The Rose. I loved the soundtrack of Beaches. I loved the first couple of records. I made an album with… a lot of records. Hard to go through it all.
What’s the best place you feel the best in the whole world?
Oh! Where I feel the best in the whole world? We have a farm in upstate New York where it’s very quiet and you can see the stars at night, and I have a garden there, and I think i’m very comfortable and happy there. I have some chickens, we call them The Kardashians, and it’s very very pretty, and it’s only a little way away from the city but so quiet. And I think it’s the quiet that gets me the most.
As a movie actress, you’ve always seemed so personable to me. For someone whose done almost everything in show biz, how do you stay grounded?
Well, my parents were severe about that kind of thing. They were working-class people, and they never gave themselves airs, and if you tried to give yourself some airs, they would shoot ya down, so I learned at their knee.
What are the chances of a sequel to First Wives Club?
Oh, I thought you were going to say HOCUS POCUS again! Oh it’s so funny, they didn’t want to make a sequel. It made over $100 million, and they couldn’t be bothered.
Hey Bette! You have recorded so many albums. How do you put together a setlist for a tour?
Well, you think about the songs that are really in the forefront of your mind. of course you GOTTA sing the classics, and you look through the catalog and see what you feel like singing – what’s interesting, what’s amusing, what needs to see the light of day again! And it’s a LOT of music. The ballads are always easy, and the uptempo songs are really, really hard – because they didn’t come to me from the publishers or songwriters, if I asked them for an uptempo song, they laughed in my face, because they tend to be mostly period songs, I like to sing rock and roll, but it’s really hard to come by.
Submit your songs now!
Submit your suggestions now!
Latkes: sour cream or apple sauce?
I haven’t eaten latkes in about 40 years. But I don’t eat sour cream hardly at all. I like applesauce only if i make it myself. BUT if I do eat latkes – it’s salt and BUTTER baby, butter.
Can you tell us a bit about what it was like working on The Simpsons?
You know, cartoons – animated work is hard. It’s really hard. It’s just vocal work, and sometimes you think you sound horrible today and there’s nothing you can do about it without techniques. I really think that episode is one of the highlights of my acting career, and I loved what i did- throwing a can at the litterbug! I still laugh at it every time I see it.
How do you feel about your daughter choosing a career in acting?
Do you have a pet?
Queen Puddles was a Jack Russell terrier. The greatest living creature. Loved her.
What is a day like in the life of Bette Midler?
It depends on whether I’m working or not. If I’m working, it’s hell. If I’m not, it’s like everybody else’s – grocery shopping, a trip to the bookstore, puttering, picking up trash, fundraising, volunteering.
What’s your favorite color?
I love blue. I just live for blue.
My mother said to me very young “blue is your color” and I had NO idea what she was talking about.
And I went through all the colors. But when I was about 40, I realized she was right.
I heard you love to read. What are some of your favorite authors and books?
I love to eat. I love, love, LOVE to eat.
What was your favorite song to record from Its The Girls?
That’s a really good question.
I loved “Waterfalls” or “Talk to me of Mendocino.” And “Will you still love me tomorrow” was really the demo. It was the first… I just did it all in one take. So I liked that. I liked it cuz I didn’t have to do it twice, I did it once and that was the end of that.
What actor or actress did you really want to work with but never was able to?
Well, a lot of them were gone by the time I made my debut. A lot of them were gone.
I’m a collector of stories about great actresses, so, you know, i mean surely it would be fun to stand on the same stage as Sara Bernhardt… I’d like to work with Glenn, I’d like to work with Meryl, I’d love to work with Susan Sarandon and I think she’d be fun to work with since she’s so fun in real life. I adore Amy Poehler, I love Rebel Wilson, I thought Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy were BRILLIANT in the Heat. I had to see the movie several times. I LOVE Frances McDormand, I think she’s just a great great actor. And I love Felicity Huffman, love love love her.
I keep my eyes open.
OH MY GOD, Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine! Holy cow!
Hi, Bette. Can you just do a Hocus Pocus II so my girlfriend can make me stop watching the original every Halloween?
You have to go to send in your cards to the Walt Disney company.
The ball’s in their court.
Can you talk about any musical or acting projects that just never got off the ground that you were really excited about?
Oh my god, SO many.
They’re numberless. Too many to mention!
Most projects end in abject failure. It’s true! Most projects never get off the ground.
I did think – I read a book a couple years ago called “Pearl Buck in China” which was one of the most astonishing books I’d ever read. Pearl was a writer in the 1940’s and she was the most popular writer in America for years and years. And when she passed away, it was like she never existed. And this english woman wrote a biography of her a few years ago, and it was one of the most shocking and exciting thing I’d ever read. She lived in China, she was born and raised there, she was in the Opium War, the revolution, her father was an evangelist who never converted a single soul, and stayed there for like fifty fucking years trying! It’s like “Okay guy, cut your losses!” And it was SO exciting, and I tried to get it off the ground and couldn’t do it.
And then there was a piece called “Nellie Bly” about the first woman reporter at the turn of the 19th century, she was a daredevil reporter who would sign herself into asylums, then would get out and write about them, a real muckraker, and she challenged Jules Verne to a duel, she said “I could go around the world faster than you can.” And she did. And I thought that would be a lot of fun for me to produce, and never got that off the ground. That laid an egg.
It’s a great story for young girls. It’s an action-adventure for women and I love that.
Will there ever be a Bette Midler biopic? Who would you want to play you?
Well, as my daughter says, she calls them “biopics” … I certainly hope NOT. Nope, not interested.
Hi Bette â€ª#â€ŽItsTheGirlsâ€¬ at #3 on iTunes!! Congratulations!. How do you feel?. Does it give you wings to go on recording more albums? No 8 years for the next one please!!
Ohhh so sweet!
For me just to have my album cover next to Taylor Swift is SO completely extraordinary to me, I’m just… in hog heaven right now!
Did it hurt… When you fell from heaven? Just kidding really though what performer was/is your favorite to see live?
Currently, Bruno Mars.
Hi Bette, I’m your biggest fan. Cannot contain my excitement that you’re going back on tour? My question is do you think you’ll ever do Broadway again? Or perhaps a Live music Hall like has been done recently with sound of music and Peter Pan? I would love to see you in hello Dolly!
Oh, Hello Dolly, that’s a fun one!
You know, I would never say never. The music is great, the score are great, some of the books, the scripts to some of these great old American musicals are just wonderful and I would never say never. They’re fun. They’re great fun.
What would you say would be the perfect meal?
Huh. Well, do you want reality or the party line?
Well, reality is anything my husband cooks. He’s a great cook. My favorite meal is red beans and rice, from Paul Prudhomme’s first cookbook, I believe. I’m a boiler, not a roaster. I’m a stewer, my specialty is stews and soups, and Mexican food. I live for Mexican food.
The party line is “I’m gluten free, I only eat apples, and no mucous-making dairy.”
So many people are going to request this, but can you please say something or tell a story from Hocus Pocus that most people haven’t heard?
I wouldn’t dare.
Do you think George slid into you on purpose?
That’s a good question! Hahahaha.
Actually, no, I think George is just a klutz.
What hair color do you like most on yourself, and which was the most fun to have?
That’s a really good question.
Red is REALLY hard to maintain. I think like being a blonde best, although I was born blonde, and I think age makes the hair grow blonde – the older you are, the more blonde you have to be to maintain your glamorousness.
Hello Bette! Iâ€™ve been a huge fan of your work for a very long time now & I absolutely love the new album. I really enjoyed your show Bette and even got to attend a taping of one of the episodes, any interesting stories or thoughts looking back at the experience of creating that show? I was gutted when it was canceled and thought it should have been given a little more time to spread its wings. Also any chance the episodes will be available on Netflix or Hulu sometime? Would be great to watch them again.
Oh, really? So you’re the one?
You want to watch it again? OH MY GOSH, I am so excited.
I had a blast making it. Lindsay Lohan was my daughter in the pilot. I knew her when she was like 12 – she was the cutest thing ever – I still think she was cute. Some of it was pretty funny. It should have been on cable. That’s all I’ll say.
Hey Bette, how’s it going? I love your recent cover of TLC’s Waterfalls and can’t wait to get your new album. How did you choose the songs for the album? Were there any songs you wanted to record but couldn’t get permission? What’s your favourite song from the album? And you’ve announced a US tour – do you think you’d get to the UK? I’d love to finally get to see you live. And last of all, it’s my friend Martyn’s birthday and he’s fangirling so hard right now, would you wish him a happy birthday?
I’m definitely coming to the UK, in fact, I’m coming next week, and I’m so excited!
We went through a lot of songs, and we chose the ones I had the most fun singing, and that most suited my voice, and that I had the most affection for, and I think it shows in the record.
Bette! How excited are you to go on tour again? I am most certainly going to be there! It’ll be my first time! Will there be meet & greet opportunities for fans like me? 🙂 I should add that I’m a life-long fan now 30 years old, huge fan of your voice and have always loved your movies, particularly Outrageous Fortune, and yes, of COURSE Hocus Pocus, and Ruthless People…hilarious film!
I’m thinking about it, I don’t know what it means in terms of logistics and whether I’ll be too tired to do it, but I’m hoping I can. It would be fun.
Hi Bette: You were great on The Today Show this morning. Do you know what’s the latest on the Palisades Park?
Do I know the latest on the Palisades? No, unfortunately I had to go into the Tunnel of Promotion, so I have not been able to keep up with it, but I am hoping the Koreans will not build their 150,000 foot tower, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion they have already broken ground.
Are you going to be offering the “Smug Mother” seats on this upcoming tour like you did in Vegas?
OH! You know, I don’t know. It’s just all in the planning stages. So we’ll get to it.
What is your favorite city to visit?
Um, in the whole world? Hmm.
What’s the greatest advice ever given to you? (You are my queen.)
I told you, we just heard this:
“If your panties fall down around your ankles, step out of them and keep on singing.”
I tell you – I just heard that! I just heard that, that was said by the woman who was the head of the charm school at Motown Records, who recently passed away, and I was so impressed. I said “that is GENIUS. That is absolute genius. I am quoting that from now on.”
Hi Bette! Thanks for taking time to do this. Are all the Sophie Tucker jokes you tell ones actually told by Sophie Tucker? Are there any Sophie Tucker jokes that you made up yourself? When/how did you become a Sophie Tucker fan?
None of those jokes ever came out of Sophie Tucker’s mouth. And in fact, some of them were so blue, I felt bad putting her name on them, and I just called her a generic “Soph” as a generic homage to that generation. You could be a Sophie Tucker fan or a Mae West fan, and I chose Mae.
Bette, life time fan here. Since I heard you sing ‘You belong to me’ on Down and Out in Beverly Hills, I’ve been hoping you would include it somewhere. Any chance of that?
What a lovely thing to say.
Mmmm – now that you’ve brought it to my attention, I will sing it! Maybe I will put it in my next show!
I’ve heard – as an addendum – speaking of old music, I’ve heard that Questlove’s father was a member of Lee Andrews and the Hearts, which was a vocal – and he was 10 years old when he played his first gig at Radio City in his father’s band. How about that? Isn’t that amazing?
The things you learn.
If you woke tomorrow and found you were now Bruce Willis, what’s the first thing you would do?
FIRST THING I WOULD DO – I would jump on my new wife, who is so beautiful! I just met them at a benefit and they are the most stunning couple, he’s lost thousands of pounds of weight, he’s just gorgeous and his wife just had a baby and they are really nice people.
Hi Bette. Do you know when it’s the Girls will be released down under? Also how important do you think fan base is too longevity and do you ever think we will have another touchstone golden age of comedy?
I actually think we are in a golden age of comedy. I think the club scene is not as vibrant as it was in the 80s and 90s, but there are a lot of funny things going on online -there are so many comedy outlets now, it’s hard to keep track of them. If that’s your thing, I think you will find with a little scratch of the surface, you will find it.
And Australia – I can’t wait to go, can’t wait to eat some of that Vegemite. Album is 2015!
Looking forward to the new tour! How will this show be different from your last tour 10 years ago, Kiss My Brass? (Which I saw 10 times!)
TEN TIMES?!?! How did you see it 10 times?!
I think that’s more than I did!
How are you today?
I’m good. I’m well. I’m well. It’s such a gray – a real fall day, it’s cold and wet and clammy, the kind of day you want to get into bed and read a big fat book and hear sad songs. But I feel pretty good ! We’re in a beautiful hotel room and we’re talking to people who get me, so it’s fun.
What’s something you wish more people knew about you?
I’m an anti-litter FIEND. And i know most people know that about me, but they don’t know how demented I am and my recycling mania.
It is not a thing. it is a REAL thing. I could spend half an hour deciding whether to toss a milk carton or not, I really can. I MUST REDUCE MY FOOTPRINT.
I’m totally anti-litter and I LOATHE single use plastic bags. And don’t hate me for it.
I’ll be coming to see you on your tour at Madison Square Garden. Do you have any restaurant recommendations for my visit?
GEE, of course I do! Oh my god, of course.
Hard to know, since I don’t know what kind of food you like, but you cannot go wrong with Prune, the spotted pig, the John Dory, any of David Chang’s Momofuku’s, the town is crawling with Ramen shops which are fantastic, and I cannot recommend enough The Brooklyn Star for FRIED CHICKEN on Sunday night, but you have to go with 3 people because they will NOT serve you if you are fewer than 3 people. And Tad’s Steakhouse, on the other hand, kind of serves a thin steak that is very flavorful. I had one of the great picnics of my life from Tad’s Steakhouse.
Do you ever rewatch Beaches and just start bawling like the rest of us do?
You know, I have not had that joy. I had the joy of making it. I don’t rematch them. And most people don’t rewatch anything that they do. They go through it, the process is great – people love the process, not the product. You either love the process and the people you’re working with and sending it out into the world – but most people never rewatch their stuff. But I am so glad other people are out there bawling their eyes out.
what type of microphone do you use for your vocals? And I am going to go out on a limb here since you have credits for engineer on your “Bette Midler” album.. What is your vocal chain when Recording?
I use a Shure Beta 87C.
Hi Bette what are your favorite TV Shows and what is your favorite musical ?
My favorite TV shows – we watch mostly cable. We watch the big series and we love ’em. Currently we’re in the middle of HOMELAND, which is so horrifying but so illuminating and so paranoia-making, it’s got everything.
And of course, I love Seinfeld and I love Lucy – I think it’s possibly the funniest show ever created, Honeymooners was a close second. I do watch GIRLS. I watch them all, I watch them all, but I don’t really have – my show is HOMELAND.
In the whole wide world and history of musicals? Well, I would have to say… gee, that’s a good question. It’s so hard to say. I’d have to say “Fiddler” because I was in it, and I participated in it, and it never really left me. But there are SO many really beautiful ones. I still go and enjoy them.
You and your husband were married by an Elvis impersonator, right? Ever been the King’s hometown, Tupelo, MS?? If not, you should swing by! If you could do a duet with anyone, who would it be?
Yes. OF COURSE.
Anyone? in the whole wide world? Oh, Jackie Wilson! I just want to like stand in the wings and watch him. Sam Cooke. Adele. There are so many beautiful voices.
how do you keep your voice in tip-top shape? It always sounds so clear and vibrant. p.s. i love HOCUS POCUS.
YOU HAVE GOT TO SEND THIS TO THE WALT DISNEY PEOPLE. I don’t know what to say.
My poor head. What was the question again baby girl?
Stevie Wonder, boy if I could do a duet with him, I would be scared to death because he’s such a fine musician…
What’s the question? Oh, that’s really nice of you. When I have to sing, I go into a real training mode, and i run every day, and I take a voice lesson every day. I warm up every day and try to remember my techniques.
You never stop doing that.
“Correct footwear and a girl can conquer the world !” You are always one for wearing new fabulous trend setting shoes. How do you deal with a new pair and breaking them in ?
I give them to my daughter to wear them for a month, and she gives them back to me.
What is the most favorite song that you wrote?
Oh my god, my most favorite song that I ever wrote?
My favorite song is “Otto Titzling.” It’s a pretty funny song.