Deconstructing Bette Midler

Deconstructing Bette Midler
DEC 05, 2016


Speaking of Dolly, the lady playing her soon on Broadway came into SiriusXM a few years ago and I asked her about her Broadway history. Back in the ’60s, Bette Midler went to an open call for Fiddler on the Roof and got cast in the chorus, as well as the understudy for Tzeitel. Eventually she took over the role, played it for years and told me that she loves the musical itself and loved doing eight shows a week! As Dolly she won’t be doing all eight shows, but let’s all remember that she’s not the same age she was when she did Fiddler (21!). As a matter of fact, I asked her about her beautiful rendition of “Hello In There” from her first album (“Old people just grow lonesome waiting for someone to say ‘hello in there, hello.’”). She said she loves the song but now she’s the age of the people she’s singing about! Here she is singing it on one of her ’70s TV specials:

Bette told me that she loves when people give her songs: Sometimes it’s famous people like Michael Feinstein, who gave her “Stuff Like That There” or Marc Shaiman who gave her “From a Distance.” Sometimes fans give her songs, like the time in the ’70s, when she was leaving the Improv and someone said, “You know what you should sing? ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.’” She didn’t know the song so she went to the now-defunct Colony Records and got the music. And thus one of her hits was born! Here she is doing it on the Burt Bacharach TV special:

She also told me that one of her writers, Bruce Vilanch, would walk around backstage telling these hilarious jokes. She loved them and one day Bruce dared her to tell one of those jokes when she was performing at the Palace. Because he dared her, she did it. The audience went wild. As a matter of fact, she recalled that she had never heard a reaction like that! And thus her character of Soph was born. Here are some of her classics:

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