BetteBack February 24, 1973: No one could say that success has crept up on Bette Midler

Wilson Daily Times
February 24, 1973

7-1-2012 6-35-05 PM

No one could say that success has crept up on Bette Midler – it burst upon her like one of those tropical thunderstorms that sometimes hit her native Hawaii. Unknown only a short time ago, she has become one of the most popular young talents in America today.

“Sensational!” is how producers Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion describe her performance on the new Burt Bacharach special airing on Channel 5 Wednesday (10-11 p.m.).

“She’s the most dynamic person Dwight and I have worked with in several years. In this business, newcomers are always likened to other stars. Bette has the individual qualities of a lot of others but all rolled into one, she’s not like any of them. She’s just one of a special kind” exclaimed Smith.

And Bette Midler laughs through it all. When Bette laughs it’s as though all the floodlights have suddenly been switched on.

“When did I realize I was finally a star?” she echoed a questioner.”I haven’t realized it yet! It all seems like a fairy tale, and mine’s not really a fairy tale life. So it’s hard to believe it’s me people are talking about.”

One of Bette’s particular specialties is her vivid interpretation of the tunes from the 1940s, ” Chattanooga Choo Choo,” one of the numbers she sings in the Bacharach special makes it easy to jump to the conclusion that Bette has seized upon a gimmick.

“What really happened,” she explained,”is that I was brought up in the ’40s and all the records my parents had were, of course, of the ’30s and 40s. I found myself fascinated by the music but even more fascinated by the women singers. Like the Andrew Sisters, whom I imitate in”Chattanooga.”

“The fascination with the 30’s and 40’s lasted, and later I really began to research that era. I spent hours at a time in music libraries listening to old show tunes and pop songs and absorbing the stories of the stars. I became something of an expert, simply out of personal interest, not because I intended to exploit it.

“I wanted to be an actress, really,” continued Bette.”But everyone wanted me to be conventional, to fit a stereotype, which I couldn’t. I’m not a conventional person, it was quite a fight.”

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