Films, TV, and Theatre


The Bette Midler Show (1976)

Stars: Bette Midler, The Harlettes ((Charlotte Crossley, Sharon Redd, and Ula Hedwig)

Writers: Jerry Blatt, Bruce Vilanch, and Bette Midler
Director: Tom Trbovich

Wayne King

Can I boogie? What kind of asshole question is that?" Indeed. The Bette Midler Show, taped in 1976 for HBO, accurately captures the manic range of the Divine Miss M in all her onstage glory. Shifting crazily from vamped-up renditions of '40s swing standards (with the help of her three Harlettes) to delightfully vulgar quips (an appendectomy was not all she had taken care of in a hospital stay: "I've donated my tits," she proclaims, pausing three beats, "to Cher") through sentimental readings of assorted ballads, Midler proves to be one of a kind. So much so, of course, that she's had to tone down much of her schtick over the years to try and fit into the entertainment mainstream. And that's a shame; what other performer would sing a song while in the clutches of a life-size King Kong prop, cheerlead an entire audience through one of her legendarily dirty So phie Tucker jokes and then introduce a song with a story about a 450-pound wom an walking down 42nd Street with a fried egg on her head and have it come out sweet?

Entertainment Weekly

She'd just come off a smash Broadway show, Clams on the Half Shell, when this concert was filmed (and recorded for the Live at Last double album). Backed by her trio, the Harlettes, doughy-faced Midler sings about getting the clap in Rio, jiggles around in outrageous bloomers, and tells a sincere, poignant story about a woman walking down the street with a fried egg on her head. When she says, "This is really a show about shoes," it actually makes sense. A Live At Last: A





Bette Midler, accompanied by the harlettes, jokes, sings, and dances. Among
the popular songs she performs are "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," and "Friends."