Bette Midler: Divine Miss M And Movie Rose, Then And Now

By | November 30, 2020

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Left: Midler as caricatured on the cover of her self-titled second album. Right: Midler at the 17th Grammy Awards in 1975. Sources: Amazon; Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Bette Midler, the Divine Miss M, Ol' Red Hair, whatever you want to call her, she's one of the few stars who's crossed boundaries and made the world of performance her own. Midler began her career on Broadway, but she cultivated the brassy outrageousness that we still associate with her in off-off-off Broadway venues -- specifically, the gay bathhouses of New York City, where she was such a draw that she became known as Bathhouse Betty.

Midler's work is so omnipresent today that her trajectory seems like it was meant to be. As the star of Beaches, she's forever going to be known as a red headed tear jerker, and with hit singles like "Wind Beneath My Wings" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" we'll never stop hearing her voice bounce around our heads. Bette Midler is a drama queen in every sense of the word.

From Hawaii with love

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source: pinterest

Born in Honolulu in 1945, Bette Midler was one of the only Jewish kids in Hawaii. Her mother and father were New Jersey born and bred, but when her father was posted on the island during the war he became fond of the tropical climate and decided to set down roots. The young Midler, named for Bette Davis, spent her childhood keeping to herself and reading in her local library, building a "rich interior life" made up of stories that she found in her only friends, books. She told Oprah:

I sat upstairs in the picture room and went through opera, ballet, and theater books. I loved the photographs of people wearing elaborate makeup and costumes—they really pulled at me inside. I was in that library every week for years, until I was about 13. I had a rich interior life, because I didn't have much of a social life.