Bette Midler Show (1976)
Stars: Bette Midler, The
Harlettes ((Charlotte Crossley, Sharon Redd, and
Writers: Jerry Blatt, Bruce Vilanch, and Bette Midler
Director: Tom Trbovich
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?
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
Midler, accompanied by the harlettes, jokes, sings, and dances.
the popular songs she performs are "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,"