The Fabulous Bette Midler Show As It Really Was…Over 135 minutes of pure bliss….

Video: The Fabulous Bette Midler Show
By IMDB Trivia
August 26, 2023

The Fabulous Bette Midler Show

This concert was performed in Cleveland, and 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 shortened 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 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 Bette Midler Show is an HBO television special of one of Bette Midler’s tours entitled “The Depression Tour,” shot at the Cleveland Music Hall in February 1976 and also issued on Midler’s album Live at Last.

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’.

The original HBO broadcast ran 134 minutes, including material from both of her Cleveland performances and a 5-minute intermission. When it was released on VHS, Betamax and CED Videodisc in 1984 by Embassy Home Video, it was severely shortened to 84 minutes.[1] Performances of “Birds,” “Shiver Me Timbers,” the entire “Story of Nanette,” a Harlettes-only musical number, and countless jokes were removed.

The special has never officially been issued on DVD, but bootlegs are rampant and clips from both versions have surfaced on YouTube.

Cast and Personnel

Bette Midler – Herself

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


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


Toni Basil – Choreographer
Aaron Russo – Producer
Don York – Musical Director

Bruce Vilanch, Jerry Blatt – Special Material


Act I

Friends/Oh My My
I Sold My Heart To The Junkman
Birds (HBO Version)
Comic Relief
In the Mood
Hurry on Down
Shiver Me Timbers (HBO Version)
The Vicki Eydie Show: Around the World, Istanbul, Fiesta in Rio, South Sea’s scene, I’m Wishing/One Song, A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes,
Lullaby of Broadway
Intermission: You’re Moving Out Today

Act II

Roll Me Through The Rushes (The Harlettes) (HBO Version)
Delta Dawn
Long John Blues
Those Wonderful Sophie Tucker Jokes
The Story of Nanette: Nanette, Alabama Song, Drinking Again, Mr. Rockefeller, Ready to Begin Again, Do You Wanna Dance? (HBO Version)
Fried Eggs
Hello in there

Finale: Up the Ladder to the Roof, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Friends

Share A little Divinity

4 thoughts on “The Fabulous Bette Midler Show As It Really Was…Over 135 minutes of pure bliss….

  1. The full version aired on syndicated television in 1980 after “THE ROSE” had been a hit film in theaters. It was aired on a weekly musical show called “THE BLUE JEAN NETWORK” which featured a concert with a different musical artist each week. I was in elementary school and had seen “THE ROSE” that summer and when I saw this advertised I was absolutely filled with excitement. It aired on a Friday night and this broadcast was the full uncut version. The reason I so vividly remember this is I remember her singing “SHIVER ME TIMBERS” and being absolutely blown away. That song was deleted from the edited version released on home video so this was the full version. I remember it ran rather late into the evening as it was shown with commercials. The part that stood out the most for me was when Bette told her “FRIED EGGS” story and sang “HELLO IN THERE.” At the end of the concert the host of “THE BLUE JEAN NETWORK” closed by saying “There’s no on quite like Bette Midler!” I’ll never forget this concert which was the first time I saw her sing and perform after her amazing film debut.

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