BootLeg Betty

Video: Bette Midler – The Depression Tour – Live At Last – Unedited – 1976 + Tid-Bettes


You've read about them in People magazine. Three year old baby with 38" chest!
You’ve read about them in People magazine. Three year old baby with 38″ chest!

Mister D: At the time of this post, I hadn’t watched this version, but I had always remembered the original airing to be two and a half hours long, and the information here says the same thing, but this video says 2 hours and 9 minutes, so I won’t know till I watch it if this is all of it. Tim, maybe you can let me know something or older Betteheads if you watch it within a few days give me your feedback.

This concert was performed in Cleveland, filmed expressly for Home Box Office, which ran the special on June 19, 1976, with an encore showing on June 21. The original HBO presentation was shown “complete and uncut, minus any editing or interruption” (per the June 1976 HBO On Air guide), lasting nearly two-and-a-half hours. When it was shown on broadcast television later that year, it was shorn to 87 minutes. That truncated version was released on videocassette by Embassy Home Video in 1984. As of 2017, the coveted special – a rare opportunity to see Midler in her first phase of stardom – has yet to be released in digital format.

The original HBO version began with the following message about the special: “The show you are about to see is an exact record of what happened live, on stage, at the Cleveland Music Hall on the nights of February 6th and 7th, 1976. Scenes from both performances have been included. No laugh tracks or applause tracks have been added. Nothing has been overdubbed or altered in any way. This is the way it was.”

The original HBO broadcast ran 45 minutes longer than the home video edition. After “I Sold My Heart to the Junkman,” Bette jokes about Cleveland, sings Neil Young’s “Birds,” employs the aid of a stool to do an impression of Shelley Winters in The Poseidon Adventure, and she pokes fun at Judith Exner’s claim of sleeping with JFK. After “Hurry on Down,” Bette talks about the sea and sings “Shiver Me Timbers.” Following “Lullaby of Broadway,” there is a 5-minute intermission (featuring a rapidly-depleting hourglass) and then The Harlettes open Act II singing “Roll Me Through the Rushes.” “Delta Dawn” has an extended ending in which Bette and the Harlettes vamp. At the end of the Sophie Tucker joke-along, Bette heckles the crowd and sings “The Story of Nanette.”

The full-length HBO special was released as the Bette Midler album “Live at Last.”


Cast

Harlettes

Musicians

Personnel

Acts/Songs

Act I

  1. Friends/Oh My My
  2. I Sold My Heart To The Junkman
  3. Birds (HBO Version)
  4. Comic Relief
  5. In the Mood
  6. Hurry on Down
  7. Shiver me Timbers
  8. The Vicki Eydie Show: Around the World, Istanbul, Fiesta in Rio, South Sea’s scene, I’m Wishing/One SongA Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes,
  9. Lullaby of Broadway
  10. Intermission: You’re Moving Out Today

Act II

  1. Roll Me Through the Rushes (The Harlettes) (HBO Version)
  2. Delta Dawn
  3. Long John Blues
  4. Those Wonderful Sophie Tucker Jokes
  5. The Story of Nanette: Nanette, Alabama SongDrinking Again, Mr. RockefellerReady to Begin AgainDo You Wanna Dance? (HBO Version)
  6. Fried Eggs
  7. Hello in there
  8. Finale: Up the Ladder to the RoofBoogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Friends

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7 thoughts on “Video: Bette Midler – The Depression Tour – Live At Last – Unedited – 1976 + Tid-Bettes

  1. Thankyou so much for this, Mr D, it’s just what I needed!
    Lockdown is beginning to get to me here in the YUK

  2. I always like to point out I first saw this special in 1980 on a local syndicated channel from Kansas City in a regular series called “THE BLUE JEAN NETWORK” and distinctly remember seeing her sing “SHIVER ME TIMBERS* so it was uncut…with commercials?! I was very young and I watched it in. A hospital waiting room because my brother was having surgery the next day. I had seen *THE ROSR*; and this concert blew me away!

    1. I was reliving this childhood memory this morning. It was such a thrill as a young 3rd grader to see the concert begin with “THE HOSPITAL” opening as i sat in a nice hospital waiting room with several other visitors and patients. I was the one who had excitedly the turned it on the nice big screen TV but the WHOLE room became glued to the set along with me. Huge smiles were on everyone’s faces with one younger married couple asking “who is this” and me replying “Bette Midler” and the wife responding “Oh is that Bette?!” The show was uncut…I also remember her doing her stool routine which was not in the edited version. Because it had commercials and a hostess who introduced the show each time the commercial break was over (she always did that on this music series “THE BLUE JEAN NETWORK”) I remember if ran late late late into the Friday night TV schedule way past my bedtime. Most of us stayed in that waiting room until the very end. My mother watched it in my brother’s hospital room just down the hall on a dinky TV set and later commented to my father: *She is really funny! She told this story about praying to not put a fried egg on her head…” So this was my first magical Bette encounter I ever had after seeing “THE ROSE” the previous summer. (I know it originally aired in 1976 but this was the syndicated TV airing of it on “THE BLUE JEAN NETWORK” a weekly concert series.) The hostess ended the broadcast by saying “There is no one quite like Bette Midler!” I was so young and so blown away! I could not wait to rush out and buy the record (“LIVE AT LAST”) Don I had to share this amazing childhood memory. Thank you!

      1. Thank you for your story. I’ve been having fun going back in time. I’m going to try to start sharing my memories more often like I did about 19 years ago,

  3. What a beautiful story!! Stories like this are so important to share and in today’s time it is so uplifting. Thank you for sharing.

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