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Bette Midler

Bette Midler (born December 1, 1945) is an American singer, actress and comedian, also known (as her informal stage name) as The Divine Miss M. During her career, she has won four Grammy Awards, four Golden Globes, three Emmy Awards, and a Tony Award, and has been nominated for two Academy Awards. She is currently performing a new concert show, The Showgirl Must Go On, live five nights a week as one of the current headliners at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas (together with Cher and Elton John).


Early life

Midler was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is the daughter of Ruth (née Schindel), a seamstress and housewife, and Fred Midler, a house painter who worked at a Navy base in Hawaii. Her parents were from Paterson, New Jersey and moved to Honolulu shortly before Midler was born. She was named after the actress Bette Davis although Davis pronounced her first name in two syllables, and Midler uses one (/bɛt/). Midler's family was one of the few Jewish families in a mostly Asian neighborhood. She was raised in nearby Aiea and attended Radford High School(Senior Photo) in Honolulu. She was voted in Hoss Election 1961 "Most Talkative" and in her Senior Year (Class of 1963) "Most Dramatic". She majored in drama at the University of Hawaii (though she only attended for three semesters), and earned money in the film Hawaii (released in 1966) as an extra, playing a seasick passenger.


In 1965, she relocated to New York City after using the money she got for playing an extra, and landed her first professional onstage role in Tom Eyen's Off-Off-Broadway plays in 1965, Miss Nefertiti Regrets and Cinderella Revisited, a children's play by day and an adult show by night. From 1966 to 1969 she played the role of Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway; during this period her sister Judith, visiting New York to see her perform, was killed by a taxi cab.

In 1970, Midler began singing in the Continental Baths, a gay bathhouse in the city, where she became close to her piano accompanist, Barry Manilow, who produced her first major album, The Divine Miss M, in 1973.

Despite the way things turned out [with the AIDS crisis], I'm still proud of those days [singing at gay bathhouses]. I feel like I was at the forefront of the gay liberation movement, and I hope I did my part to help it move forward. So, I kind of wear the label of 'Bathhouse Betty' with pride.|Bette Midler|Houston Voice

In 1971, Midler starred in the first ever professional production of The Who's rock opera Tommy with director Richard Pearlman and the Seattle Opera.

In 1974, she received a Special Tony Award for her contribution to Broadway for her Clams on the Half Shell Revue at the Palace Theater. In 1979 she played the title role of a 1960s drug-addicted rock star, modeled after Janis Joplin, in The Rose, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. For the period of 1975–1978, she provided the voice of Woody the Spoon on the PBS educational series Vegetable Soup.

In 1981 she worked on the troubled project Jinxed!, a comedy in which she neither got along with her costar (Ken Wahl) or the film's director (veteran Don Siegel). Released in 1982, the film was a major flop. Midler wouldn't appear in another film again until 1986.

In 1985, she was a performer on USA for Africa's fund-raising single We Are the World, and participated at the 'Live Aid' event at JFK stadium in Philadelphia.

That same year, she signed a multi-picture deal with Touchstone Pictures. She was subsequently cast by director Paul Mazursky in Down and Out in Beverly Hills, beginning a successful comedic acting career. She followed that up with Ruthless People (1986), Outrageous Fortune (1987), and Big Business (1988). She also scored a hit with the 1988 tearjerker Beaches, costarring Barbara Hershey. She lent her voice to the animated character Georgette, a snobbish poodle, in Disney's Oliver & Company (1989). In 1990 she costarred with Woody Allen (sporting a ponytail) in Scenes from a Mall, again for Mazursky. She earned another Academy Award nomination as Best Actress for 1991's For the Boys costarring with James Caan and directed by Mark Rydell, who had also directed The Rose. She reportedly turned down the lead role in 1992's Sister Act.

Her other films include Hocus Pocus (1993), The First Wives Club (1996), and The Stepford Wives. Her television work includes an Emmy-nominated version of the stage musical Gypsy.

Midler won an Emmy Award in 1992 for her memorable performance on the final episode of The Tonight Show in May of that year, during which she sang an emotion-laden "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)" to Johnny Carson. There was speculation later that there was a falling out between Midler and the only other guest on the show, Robin Williams. It was perceived that Midler had stolen the limelight from Williams. However, the rumors of a feud between them have been denied by both Williams and Midler, and they have since appeared together on several other talk shows, including The Rosie O'Donnell Show in 2003. After her Tonight Show appearance, Midler told USA Today, "It was a great night. Robin and I had a fabulous time, and we'll never forget it."

She had her own short-lived CBS sitcom Bette (2000-01). Although the initial ratings were high, numbers soon declined and in the show's short lifespan her daughter (played by Lindsay Lohan in the pilot, then by Marina Malota starting with the third episode) and her husband were recast (Robert Hays succeeded Kevin Dunn in the final episode aired). The show was reportedly rocked by backstage turmoil, and did not last a full season. Also in 2001, Bette or Bust, a book chronicling Midler's Divine Miss Millennium Tour was released.

She has won four Grammy Awards including the 1973 Best New Artist and the prestigious Record of the Year in 1989 for the # 1 hit "Wind Beneath My Wings", the theme from Beaches. Her rendition of the 1990 "From a Distance" also earned her a Grammy and is another of her most popular songs. When the American Film Institute announced "The 100 years of the Greatest Songs" on June 22, 2004, two of her hits were selected by the board: "Wind Beneath My Wings" (#44) and "The Rose" (#83). After years of declining sales, however, Bette was officially dropped from Warner Brothers in 2001.

After a long-standing feud with Barry Manilow, the two joined forces for the first time in twenty years in 2003 to record "Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook." Of the project, Barry said he had a dream that he was recording with Bette again, so he called her up with the idea and she agreed that it was due time to work together again. They got Columbia Records on board and the album was an instant success, going gold in only a few short weeks.One of the songs from Rosemary Clooney Songbook "This Ole House" became Bettes first Christian radio single shipped by Rick Hendrix and his positive music movement. The album was one of her best-selling albums in twenty years, and was nominated for a Grammy the following year. Midler also starred in the 2004 Stepford Wives as Joanna Eberhart's best friend Bobbie Markowitz. It grossed 100 million worldwide.

In 2003–2004 Midler toured her new show Kiss My Brass to sell-out crowds around the United States. In early 2005, Kiss My Brass Down Under was equally successful in Australia. After the success of her last album, Columbia Records considered releasing a live album, but it never came to pass. Instead, Bette joined forces again with Barry Manilow for another tribute album, Bette Midler Sings the Peggy Lee Songbook. Released in October 2005, the album sold 55,000 copies the first week of release and debuted at #10.

Midler has guest-starred on The Simpsons in the episode "Krusty Gets Kancelled". Midler is first seen traversing a highway picking up trash when she is approached by Bart and Lisa with a request for Midler to appear on a show to revive Krusty's dying career. She appeared on Seinfeld in the episode "The Understudy," which was the season finale of that show's sixth season. She also appeared on The Nanny in the aptly titled episode "You Bette Your Life".

In 2006, a new Christmas album Cool Yule was released by Midler featuring the title song (written by Steve Allen) and a duet with Johnny Mathis of "Winter Wonderland/Let It Snow". Midler next starred in the 2007 film Then She Found Me, directed by Helen Hunt and starring Hunt, Matthew Broderick and Colin Firth, and appeared on the American Idol (season 6) finale, singing "The Wind Beneath My Wings" live at the Kodak Theatre.

On December 6 2007, Midler's album Cool Yule was given a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.

Bette Midler has a Vegas show titled "Bette Midler: The Showgirl Must Go On" at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. The show has approximately 100 shows for a two year run. The show is comprised of The Staggering Harlettes, twenty female dancers and a thirteen piece band. Bette is reportedly being paid $40 million per year for her 200 a year shows, amounting in $120 million. She currently performs well in the selling of tickets. The show debuted on February 202008.

Bette's new Album 'Best Bette' reached #66 on the U.S Charts, and #6 in the U.K Charts, her first compilation album in ten years.

Personal life

Midler's manager and boyfriend for a significant period was Aaron Russo.

Midler married Martin von Haselberg (Harry Kipper of her opening act the Kipper Kids) on December 16, 1984 in a chapel in Las Vegas. They had a daughter, Sophie Frederica Alohilani von Haselberg, on November 14, 1986. Sophie is currently a student at Yale University.

Charity work

In 1995, Midler founded the New York Restoration Project, a non-profit organization with the goal of revitalizing neglected neighborhood parks in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of New York City. These include Highbridge Park, Fort Washington Park, and Fort Tryon Park in upper Manhattan and Roberto Clemente State Park and Bridge Park in the Bronx.

In 1999, the city planned to auction 114 community gardens for commercial development. Midler led a coalition of greening organizations to save them. NYRP took ownership of 60 of the most neglected plots. Today Midler and her organization work with local volunteers and community groups to ensure that these gardens are kept safe, clean and vibrant. In 2003, Midler opened Swindler Cove Park, a new five-acre public park on the Harlem River shore featuring specially designed educational facilities and the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse, the first community rowing facility to be built on the Harlem River in more than 100 years. The organization offers free in-school and after-school environmental education programming to students from high-poverty Title I schools.




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