BetteBack December 18, 1973: Bette Midler At The Palace

Mattoon Journal Gazette
December 18, 1973


Bette Midler’ll haul down about $300,000 for three weeks of doing her “trash with flash ’ act at the Palace Theater.

Las Vegas salaries have come to New York. That’s $100,000 a week. Six shows a week. $26,000 a show. Jimmy Nederlander, the personable proprietor of the Palace, said as we watched the unbelievable opening night lobby scene, “Bette Midler is the biggest grosser in the history of the Palace.”

“I was here in ’67 when Judy Garland came in and I think this is bigger,” I agreed.

We watched the remarkable people shoving in. some normals, some celebrities like Dyan Cannon, Peter Boyle and Julie Newmar . . . some bearded ladies, men in gowns, a bare-backed man who stood up and waved, one who had to be hauled off stage. But Judy Garland had cultists too, people with a revival meeting ”¢ fervor.

“You paid 15 dollars!” shrieked the fiercely energetic 28-year-old redhead who said she was the only Jewish girl in a Samoan neighborhood in Hawaii and always liked the red light districts to walk in because they were interesting.

“You could have bought 3 gallons of gas for that kind of money!”

She was worried about the first-night stiffs in the front row. She mimicked them, “Dirty girl . . . I don’t get i t . . . Gross . . . very gross.”

She went after Nixon: told the well-known “Deep Throat” story to huge applause. Got several standing ovations.

Had the greatest stage presence, warmth and personality of any new performer in years. She said she was very tired. “I’ve been standing in line all day trying to get tickets to the Winter Garden to see Liza Minnelli.”

“Went to great .expense to get these Hawaiian girls here tonight,” she said. “ Had to pay their fare all the way from Broadway and 50th St.”

“Listen,” she said once, “whose idea was it to play this dump?”

A great one, whosever it was. Still, Bette Midler, after that madhouse, went over to Improvisation with Peter Boyle and gloomed all over the place that those trussedup first-night stiffs weren’t her people and didn’t appreciate her. I trust the thought of $300,000 for the three weeks will help her accept her fate.

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