BetteBack April 3, 1997: Being married and being Bette Midler not easy

Alton Telegraph
April 3, 1997


You have to be careful what you say on the Internet. You never know who’s watching.

One day there was a vicious debate going on about the movie The First Wives Club.

The participants were mostly men who were sniping at the film, grousing they were getting a bad rap. They were responsible fathers, paying child support and fulfilling their duties, they insisted.

In a final thrust, one of them scribbled, “ Yeah!! It must be a real chore being married to BETTE MIDLER.’’

Little did he know, Bette Midler was there in that chat room. And today she roars with laughter at the memory.

While she may be a perfectionist, opinionated and headstrong, she’s good marriage material. And she and hubby, Martin von Haselberg, have 12 years to prove it.

That’s no small accomplishment with someone as, er, visible as Midler. You visit the Internet today and there are 2,000 mentions of her on the web, mostly by adoring fans who’ve spent hours compiling reverent anecdotes, quotes and credits by her vaunted name.

It’s hard to fathom such adulation as Midler crows, “ I’m boring myself!” after a day with the press.

Though they didn’t know each other for long before they married, Midler says she and von Haselberg are not about to give up. “ We’re committed to it. We’re in it for the long haul. You don’t really get to know a person till you’ve been with them a long time and we don’t really know each other yet. Even though it’s been 12 years, each day is a revelation.”

When they met, she says, she “just felt like it was the right thing to do.”

Still, it’s not a day in the sandbox. “ It’s a struggle. It hasn’t been easy. We’ve had a lot of rough patches, but the main thing is that we didn’t give up. We didn’t say, ’This is too hard. I don’t need this.’ You do need it, you have to keep going.”

Though she hints that she might quit show biz one of these days, Midler is still going. In her latest movie, That Old Feeling, she plays a woman who encounters her ex only to discover – after all these years – she still has feelings for him.

The movie was produced by her production company and written by Leslie Dixon, her collaborator on Outrageous Fortune. If Midler tries to swing things her way – and through the years many of her colleagues have said she does – that power is always diluted with a bawdy sense of humor and a dollop of self-deprecation.

Though she admits she has clout, she says she never uses it on a movie set. “When you do that it ruins the picture. You got a salty director? Forget about it. All hell breaks loose.”

Still, even she intimates that it’s not so easy to convince a strong-minded director to join her team.

“ When we produce pictures, to get a director to come on board is very hard. These guys want to do their own thing. They don’t want to do your thing. So they’re not going to come and work for you.”

One director who did come in from the cold was master comic director Carl Reiner, who still has the stuff at 74 but is not in big demand in a town that worships youth.

Midler conscripted him for That Old Feeling, a move that proves she hasn’t lost her intuition.

As for Reiner, he’s like one of those ga-ga fans: “ She lights up the screen,” says Reiner of Bette.

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