Altoona Mirror August 9, 1975 I hear Bette Midler isn’t nearly so popular offstage as she is onstage. True?K. Denton, Newport, Ky. Not on the evidence we have. During the New York run of “Clams on the Half Shell‘ she ordered 70 picnic hampers from the Trattoria and Brasserie restaurants to be delivered to the theater between shows on weekends, as there was no time for the cast and crew to go out to dinner. When Alexis Smith visited Bette backstage after one show, her dressing room was crowded and Alexis didn’t recognize Bette, with no makeup and her hair pulled back.”In fact, she was introducing herself to people, ” said Alexis, who told Bette she was leaving for a Florida club date. With that, Bette took her to a corner and passed on some valuable tips about club work, a rare thing for performers to do. They usually guard their “secrets ” as closely as the Pentagon does.