Bette Midler

“My idea of Superwoman is someone who scrubs her own floors.”

Bette Midler, American actress and singer, 1945

Known for her campy comedy and showtune-ready singing voice, Bette Midler is a New York institution, best known around the world for her era-defining ballad “Wind Beneath My Wings.” In her multifaceted career so far she has starred in more than 20 films and won four Grammy’s, four Golden Globes, three Emmy’s and one Tony Award. As a singer and comedienne, she has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. Midler also founded the New York Restoration project which has planted more than a million trees in the city.

Born in Honolulu to a Jewish house painter and a seamstress, Midler has described her childhood as “hard-scrabble.” Her first job was in a pineapple canning factory. She sang as a child and performed amateur theater in high school, and was popular as the classic class clown. She landed a part in the 1966 film Hawaii and followed the crew back to Hollywood where she worked to save money to move to New York City. Once in the Big Apple, she joined the cast of the Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof and took singing and acting lessons. She also performed at the gay men’s bathhouse, Continental Baths, as The Divine Miss M, telling off-color jokes and singing songs from the 1940s and 1950s around the pool. Her pianist and musical director was a then-unknown Barry Manilow. In 1973, after releasing her first album, she received a Grammy for Best New Artist. She soon returned to the big screen, playing a rock star loosely based on Janis Joplin in The Rose, for which she won another Grammy. 

She published a memoir, A View From a Broad, but a lull in her career in the 1980s led to a bout of depression, and eventually, a nervous breakdown. Still, she got married to a German performance artist in a small Las Vegas chapel officiated by an Elvis impersonator in 1984, which she credits for a career turnaround. Midler rebounded in the popular comedy Down and Out in Beverly Hills and by co-founding All Girl Productions which produced the tear-jerking Beaches. The film was a flop but its title song, “Wind Beneath My Wings” was a Grammy-winning hit. She  won an Emmy for her appearance on the Johnny Carson show and was cast in The First Wives’ Club and The Stepford Wives, and released three albums in 10 years, including another hit song, “From a Distance.” In the ’90s she went back to her first love of live performance and broke records for tickets sales and consecutive performances at Radio City Music Hall. In 2017 Midler returned to Broadway to rave reviews, winning a Tony for her performance in the revival show “Hello, Dolly!” and shows no signs of slowing down.



No items found.