Category Archives: BetteBack

Thursday, January 10, 2019

BetteBack Sep 4, 1975: Paul Simon Disses Miss M Over Recording

Newark Advocate
Sep 4, 1975

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Paul Simon‘s new single, “Gone At Last” features Phoebe Snow singing the high parts that Bette Midler was supposed to have sung. As we’ve heard it, the Divine Miss M and the Rhymin’ Simon had a difference of opinion.

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BetteBack August 19, 1975: Bette Midler Says Lawrence Welk Dissed Her

Wichita Falls Times
August 19, 1975

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Bette Midler said in Playgirl magazine that Lawrence Welk was once supposed to dance with her on the Mike Douglas show, but he wouldn’t – he thought I was a dirty little girl” . . . Pearl Bailey’s daughter, Dee, 16, is traveling with Pearl’s “Hello, Dolly!” company, so Bill Daniel’s daughter Dominique, 16, came along to keep her company.

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

BetteBack August 10, 1975: Bette Midler Discovers The Manhattan Transfer

Cedar Rapids Gazette
August 10, 1975

The Manhattan Transfer - The Manhattan Transfer (1975)

Their story reads like a scenario out of a 1940s movie musical.

The action opens late one night on a New York City street, where cab driver Tim Hauser picks up a pretty young redhead dressed in hot pants and cape. He explains he’s an out-of-work singer. She introduces herself as Laurel Masse, an aspiring vocalist.

Fade out — and fade into a scene at a west end bar some hours later, where the couple is plotting, planning, fantasizing about making beautiful music together.

Dissolve . . . reintroduce Tim a few weeks later. He’s wandered into a late-night musicians’ party with a fare and tells a pretty brunette he’s an out-of work singer. She introduces herself as Janis Siegel, an aspiring vocalist

Fade out — and fade back into the action several months hence. The* scene is Tim’s walkup apartment — virtually unfurnished except for seemingly unending stacks of cartons containing a vast collection of pop records from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s.

He impresses the girls with details of his varied professional background that makes him sound — quite accurately — like a young man who, in his 30 years, has been practically everywhere and with almost everyone musically. He started singing with the Criterions in 1958, chalking up the hits, “I Remain Truly Yours” and “Don’t Say Goodbye” with that rhythm and blues group before he moved on to Alan Freed’s “Big Beat Party”.

Dos Passos Novel

Later, he was involved in the production of “Harlem Nocturne’’ by the Viscounts — the top instrumental group of 1959 — worked for four years as disc jockey, formed a group called the Troubadors Three, shared college and coffee house stages with such names as Bill Cosby, Tom Paxton and Buffy’ Sainte Marie, was part of a folk group with Jim Croce and Tommy West, studied musical composition with jazz pianist Bob Bianco — and for a while was part of a soon-defunct country rock congregation named in honor of a John Dos Passos novel about New York City in the ’20s — “Manhattan Transfer”.

Tim confesses he’d love to get back into musical action again — and suggests he and the girls team up.

Laurel, 22, who has attended 14 schools here and abroad as the daughter of a peripatetic business executive,* agrees. She has a good strong voice and plenty of enthusiasm.

Janice, also 22, who has considerable musical knowhow — she organized her first professional singing group in Brooklyn during her junior high school years — is equally eager for the partnership

And so the trio sets out to find another singer with whom they can do four-part harmony. They find Alan Paul, 25, in the Broadway chorus of “Grease”. He’s been singing since his childhood in Newark, New Jersey.

Quartet’s Repertoire

They become a quartet, put together a repertoire of swing, bop and rhythm-and blues songs that ranges from Jimmy Dorsey’s “Blue Champagne” to the early Ink Spots, “That Cat Is High”. They dress themselves up in formal evening attire of the ’40s. They’re soon making musical history of the ’70s.

Within a year the new Manhattan Transfer is being referred to as the hot new underground group of New York.

By 1973, Bette Midler has discovered them, introduced them to her manager — and they’ve made their way to engagements at such prestigious clubs as Trude Heller’s and Reno Sweeney’s.

They’re making it big in the city known as the Big Apple. with newspaper reviewers describing them as “The hottest new nightclub act in town,” with Women’s Wear Daily labeling their efforts, “Simply sensational” . . . with Newsweek adding its stamp of approval — and with admirers ranging from the likes of Andy Warhol to Julie Nixon.

The talent of the foursome adds up to more than the sum of the parts — with a larger-than-life quality that even tually comes to the attention of TV executives. And less than three years after the cab driver named Tim picked up a fare named Laurel — the Manhattan Transfer partners are preparing for their debut as network television stars.

The premiere episode of their CBS summer series which airs today is a chance both for CBS and the Transfer.

If the group can score with a video audience of millions as it has scored with elitist nitery crowds in cosmopolitan cities the direction of musical variety shows might permanently be changed.

Instead of the staid, stiff, pretentious format that marks much TV variety fare, the Transfer will give home viewers what it has been giving nitery fans — a lot of flair, a little choreography and a good deal of humor. Guest stars will step into situations and characters suggested by the songs performed on the show.

Fantasy Characters

“Our idea is to build the series around fantasy characters, in a loose, cinematic style,” explains Laurel.

It is Tim who explains that all four members of the quartet have actively participated in the development of the series. And Alan points out that, “We could either have a group with one leader — or a democracy. And we decided that a democracy would work best for us. If three of us want to do something, and the fourth doesn’t — the majority rules.”

Dissolve . . . flashback to that taxicab scene in 1972 when two young people fantasized about becoming musical stars

Fadeout — and fade back into the summer of ’75 — when CBS’ newest variety celebrities are rushing from production of their TV’ show to headline engagements in Las Vegas . . . at the Los Angeles Greek theater . . . to concert and television engagements in London and Berlin. To headline fame beyond their wildest dreams.

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    Monday, October 15, 2018

    BetteBack August 9, 1975: I hear Bette Midler isn’t nearly so popular offstage as she is onstage. True?

    Altoona Mirror
    August 9, 1975

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    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.

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    Tuesday, August 21, 2018

    BetteBack July 31, 1975: Bette Midler – “I hate it when they call me ugly…”

    Van Nuys Valley News
    July 31, 1975

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    Inside Bette Midler, who made her reputation as the brash, tough, bigger-than-life Divine Miss M, is “a vulnerable little person,” who is hurt by derogatory references to her appearance, the star revealed.

    “I hate it when they call me ugly when they say I’m homely,” the orange-haired entertainer told a reporter for the current issue of Redbook magazine, confiding that she has considered having a nose job.

    “But what’s the diff?” Ms. Midler observed. “It’s only the shell. I can’t have plastic surgery on my heart.”

    Ms. Midler, who established her “tacky” image by wearing bizarre clothing to attract attention, said she would now “just as soon fade right into the woodwork” when she’s not performing. “I wouldn’t be caught dead with a sequin on my body when I’m not working” she exclaimed. “How tasteless!”

    After gaining national prominence in 1973, Ms. Midler startled the industry by dropping out for a year. Her self-imposed silence was necessary, she, told Redbook because “I was afraid all the things that make me a human being would be lost.”

    “I was tired and I was scared to death, afraid of having to puff myself up into something I’m not. I can pretend to be a star. I can be as grand as the next lady. Listen, I’ve been grand since sixth grade. But to have to do it every day — that isolates you.”

    Describing the Divine Miss M as “an exaggeration of all the things I never thought I wanted to be,” Ms. Midler said that after she started “doing her,” she became much more like her than she ever thought possible.

    So she called a timeout to try’to learn how to have a good time, how to relax and to grow up.

    Part of the year was spent in Paris. “It’s cutthroat there,” Ms. Midler told Redbook. “If you don’t look just so, they don’t want you on their streets. One of the things I learned is, never go to France unescorted. And try to learn the language, at least the essentials. ‘How much?’ ‘Where’s the John?’ ‘Please don’t touch me.'”

    Ms. Midler, who says she is most at “.home” on stage, reported that her year’s “vacation” helped her “come to grips” with her life.

    “Last year I was screaming inside but now I’m not really that unhappy. I mean, I laugh at least twice a day.”

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    Friday, August 17, 2018

    BetteBack July 17, 1975: ABC Offers Bette Midler A Special Deal

    Harrisburg Daily Register
    July 17, 1975

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    Bette Midler, the doyenne of glitter rock, may soon be doing her boogie woogie on ABC, a network spokesman said Wednesday.

    “We have made her an offer,*’ the spokesman confirmed, “now, it’s up to her.” The spokesman declined to discuss the terms of the offer.

    Miss Midler has risen from a cult following in a Manhattan steambath to successes on Broadway and television with her outrageous style of song and dance. Her first top seller was a parody of the Andrews’ Sister hit of the 1940’s “The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from
    Company B

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    Saturday, July 21, 2018

    BetteBack July 2, 1975: Bette Midler Begins Singing Lessons

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    Wednesday, February 28, 2018

    BetteBack July 1, 1975: ‘Clams’ Breaks Broadway’s Box Office Record

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    Tuesday, February 27, 2018

    BetteBack June 13, 1975: The Divine Miss “M” scores personal success on Broadway

    Mister D: It’s so funny to read these old articles to be reminded of how edgy and out there Miss M was. It seemed like everybody was afraid of her, I remember Linda Ronstadt saying Bette opened the door for women singers to be looser on stage and Ms Ronstadt also claimed that Bette showed you don’t have to stand still at the microphone to sing, Bette was all over the place.

    Lowell Sun
    June 13, 1975

    Bette Midler. "It was a remarkable adventure to return to Hawaii," Bette Midler said on the Tonight Show. The Johnny Carson program featuring Miss Midler performing a medley of songs from the 1940s and talking about her career will be shown on KHON, Channel 2, at 10:30 p.m., tomorrow. Star-Bulletin photo by Bob Young on September 6, 1973. Ran on Tuesday, September 18, 1973 and Sunday, August 21, 1977.

    NEW YORK – Who is the trashiest girl in town wearing the tackiest clothes? The answer may be found nightly on the stage of the new Minskoff Theater where Betle Midler is in command of a spectacular revue entitled! “Clams on the Half Shell”. Whatever else may or may not be said about the show, it is a personal success for the young singer whose followers have christened her “The Dcvine Miss “M”.

    Miss Midler has been packing them in at the Minskoff with even more solidarily than she did a year ago at the Palace. For this time Belle has come prepared to take on Broadway, in her terms to be sure, but then would you have expected less?

    THE EVENING GETS off to a flying start as the orchestra plays the overture .. . to “Oklahoma.” The curtain rises and we have a scene from “Showboat” complete with “darkies” lifting those barges and toting that bale. They sing of the troubles that no one knows they have. And then some of the men pull a huge clam shell onto the center of the stage. It opens And there in a sarong that would have done Dorothy Lamour proud, is Miss Midler crooning “The Moon of Manakoora“. To call it “camp” would be to do it a ‘disservice. It’s downright “tacky.”

    The rest of the first act Miss Midler swapping wise-cracks with the audience and giving out with some of that strong language that has made her a personality. There are not many four-letter words Miss Midler misses but her fans love her for it and they screamed and yelled-for more. Miss Midler is accompanied most of the time by a trio of girls called, “The Harlettes.” You hardly expected the “Chordeltes” with Miss Midler. Together they wail up a storm; and if Miss Midler does not sing my kind of music most of the time, I’ll give her her due. She sings music that the young sell-out crowd seems to appreciate.

    Her first act final has her clutched in the paw of a giant “King Kong” to whom she croons affectionately, “Nicky Arnstein, Nicky Arnslein.” It’s wild and hilarious.

    The second act brings the big band onto the stage and with it the veteran vibraphonist Lionel Hampton, the big band sound is back and the crowd loves it. They go wild when Miss Midler sings “In the Mood” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” It was the part I liked best myself.

    BETTE MIDLER is a talented comedienne whose use of dirty jokes is not really necessary. She doesn’t need them.’ Her singing is unfortunately undisciplined and without a style all her own.

    She has heen greatly influenced by black blues and gospel singers. At times-she seems to be trying to immitate Billy Holiday, Dianna Ross and Aretha Franklin. I wish she would just be Bette Midler. Even her best work is a copy of the Andrews Sisters.

    If Miss Midler decides to stop at being” just trashy and tacky; she’ll still make a fortune. But I think she has great talent still not correctly displayed.

    “Clams on the Half Shell” is a big and very entertaining show for Midler fans. But leave your maiden aunt at home unless she’s ready to laugh it up at some of the dirtiest language a pop singer has used on a Broadway stage ever.

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    Wednesday, February 21, 2018

    BetteBack June 3, 1975: Bette Midler To Record Gospel Song

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