BootLeg Betty

On This Day In History: The Fabulous Bette Midler Show Premiered On The Fledgling HBO Cable Channel

Bette Midler, Hospital Bed

The Bette Midler Show is an HBO video special of one of Bette Midler’s tours entitled “The Depression Tour”. The video is of her show at the Cleveland Music Hall during February 1976. The show features many of Bette’s popular songs, such as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, “Friends”, “In The Mood”, “Hello In There”, and “Lullaby of Broadway” As well as dazzling the audience with her spontaneous wit with her ‘Wonderful Sophie Tucker Jokes’ and her special ‘The Vicki Eydie Show’… ‘Bette set out on another cross-country tour entitled ‘The Depression Tour’, which she hoped would help album sales of her latest album. The show, as with Clams, was very successful, and was turned into an HBO TV special called “The Bette Midler Show.” The tour also spawned the album “Live at Last”, which to this day encompasses every essence of what a live Bette Midler show is like. Bette Midler, accompanied by the staggering harlettes, jokes, sings, and dances.’ (Wikipedia)

Cast
Bette Midler – Herself

Harlettes
Sharon Redd – Harlettes – Vocals
Ula Hedwig – Harlettes – Vocals
Charlotte Crossley – Harlettes – Vocals

Musicians
Betsy And The Blowboys – The Orchestra
Don York – Keyboards
Lou Volpe – Guitar
Richard Trifan – Keyboards
Ira “Buddy” Williams – Drums
Jaroslav Jakubovic – Reeds
Miles Krasner – Trumpet
Francisco Centeno – Bass
Joseph Mero – Percussion and Vibes
Elizabeth Kane – Harp

Personnel
Toni Basil – Choreographer
Aaron Russo – Producer
Don York – Musical Director
Bruce Vilanch
Jerry Blatt – Special Material

The Bette Midler Show (TV Special) (performer: “Friends”, “Oh My My”, “I Sold My Heart to the Junkman”, “Birds”, “In the Mood”, “Hurry on Down”, “Shiver Me Timbers”, “Around the World”, “Istanbul”, “Fiesta in Rio”, “South Seas Scene”, “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes”, “Lullaby of Broadway”, “You’re Moving Out Today”, “Delta Dawn”, “Long John Blues”, “Hello in There”, “Up the Ladder to the Roof”, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” – uncredited) / (writer: “Fiesta in Rio”, “You’re Moving Out Today” – uncredited)

Mister D: If I remember correctly this was HBO’s first live concert performance, warts and all. When it aired the first night, the show was closer to 3 hours. Later HBO whittled it down to about 90 minutes. A couple of songs were removed and a lot of talking. Bette was a talking machine. There are bootlegs of the longer show that appear online every once in awhile so be checking for that. Bette also won a Cable Ace Award for the special. A first of it’s kind.

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3 thoughts on “On This Day In History: The Fabulous Bette Midler Show Premiered On The Fledgling HBO Cable Channel

  1. The full length version was actually taped from two different performances it was not aired live. The edited version is absolutely insufficient. Songs were cut…like “Birds”…and an entire sequence…”The Story of Nanette.” Thank goodness I got to see a bootleg video tape of the full show since I was to young to have seen it when it aired. The biggest blunder HBO ever made was airing an absolutely disastrously edited version of Bette Midler’s “DETOUR” show…”ART OR BUST” was such a disappointment considering I was still too young to have gone to see it live in its entirety and when I finally watched the HBO special I knew parts had to have been cut…many parts…and again I am so thankful I finally caught full versions of the show later on bootleg videos… : )

  2. Yeah I was lucky I got to see both shows live. I absolutely loved Art Or Bust. I think that’s the show that brought everything she had been trying to do full circle. She was in great voice, it was a beautiful show, Delores was at her peak. I was more upset they didn’t release a double live album. There was so much cut out of that special. I really liked the special but knowing how much was cut out pissed me off. She also had gained rock credibility. But anyway, it is what it is. It’s better than getting nothing like we have for all the tours since, with the exception of Diva Las Vegas and Showgirl, which I really was not a fan of. She was too restricted.

  3. I think DETOUR was her absolute best and I was thrilled that she had released a new rock album “NO FRILLS” that was better than anything in any other bin or on the radio in my opinion. As was the case many times, the record got no airplay and produced no hit singles but over time “BEAST OF BURDEN” could almost pass as a bona fide hit if people don’t think too hard about it. (It got no radio airplay despite repeated airings of the music video on MTV which was amazing. None one of that beautifully crafted modern rock album generated a hit single…IT AIN’T RIGHT! But it was the best album in town and I owned it! And yes…BETTE WAS A ROCK STAR NO DOUBT ABOUT IT!!! AMAZING!

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