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Video: Bette Midler talks about self-image, anxiety, and her ‘first love,’ acting (1983)


Bette Midler 1983
Bette Midler 1983

Flashback: Bette Midler talks self image, anxiety and her ‘first love,’ acting (1983)



Consider Bette Midler’s healthy approach to a positive self-image, which she pondered — while paraphrasing the Rolling Stones — during a 1983 interview with TODAY’s Gene Shalit.

“Lots of personal anxieties — like, ‘Do I look all right? Do I fit in? Am I dressed OK? Am I smart enough? Am I hot enough, rough enough, tough enough, that kind of thing? Am I rich enough? Am I doing OK? Do people like me?’ — those kinds of anxieties are pretty much self-inflicted,” Midler said at the time. “And they’re excess baggage that people don’t really [need]. If they can unload that kind of baggage, they can sprint through life like a marathon runner.”

That’s not to say she always succeeded, as she was first to admit.

“I do try,” she said. “I work on it, at least.

“Acting is my first love,” the Hawaii native told TODAY in 1983. “I tried to be an actress when I first came to New York, and I couldn’t get any jobs, and so I turned to music because acting seemed like a dead end.”

Midler’s second Oscar nomination came in 1991, for her work in the film “For the Boys.” A year later, she delivered a dramatic, Emmy-winning performance of “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)” on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” to send off then-host Johnny Carson. She parodied that appearance on a 1993 episode of “The Simpsons,” and, in so doing, endeared herself to an entirely new generation of fans.

But if she hasn’t quite connected with millennials — or, more specifically Justin Bieber, who butchered her name during a Billboard interview published earlier this month — she appears to be OK with that, too. After all, if she still feels the way she did in 1983, it’s all about unloading that excess baggage.

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