T h e


D i v i n e

B e t t e

M i d l e r!

" Burt Bacharach Special "
In February of 1973, "Bette" made an appearance on the "Burt Bacharach"
TV special, along with Stevie Wonder.  According to Bette, he stole the
show with his harmonica, but her appearance was memorable as well.
Singing "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," Bette appeared as all "three"
Andrews Sisters.  "They filmed all three, different outfits, different hairdos,
and then they spliced me together.  My mother saw it in Honolulu and she
said, 'Gee, that's terrific.  They found two girls who look just like Bette.' "
T h e   B a g e l m a n   S i s t e r s

" Theresa "

" Maria "

" Conchita "

Three Anglo-Saxon Protestant girls from the South who came up to
New York to make it big in show biz!


Bette also sang a beautiful version of "Superstar" sitting against a starky-lit
concrete backdrop with a shaft of light entering through a window.
" Ol' Red Hair is Back! "
Bette's special "Ol' Red Hair is Back" was produced by Gary Smith
and directed by Dwight Hemion.  It was a gorgeously mounted show 
which showed Midler off to wonderful advantage while diluting 
surprisingly little of her bawdiness.  

The show opened with a scantily-clad Bette popping out of a clamshell, 
singing "Oklahoma."  After which guest Emmett Kelly helped
Bette introduce, her signature song, "Friends."

"We are living proof that the moral standards by which this
country lives have died."
While Bette did have to launder her jokes a bit ( instead of FDS'ing 
themselves into a stupor, the girls gargled themselves into a stupor ) she
got away, by television standards, with murder.
"Try and remain vertical, girls, at least until the first commercial," Bette
tells the Harlettes.  After "In the Mood," she lies face up on the floor ~
"My favorite position" ~ and says "How does Marie Osmond do it?  You
mean she doesn't do it?  I heard she did! . . . I promised myself
I would never sink this low again ~ but old habits die hard.  Ain't
that right, girls?"  The Harlettes respond with their patented
whine, "Unnh hunnnh."
"Oh, my girls.  So verbal, so articulate, so rife with bons mots.  I told
my girls, I said, 'Girls, I want my show to be illuminating, uplifting, I 
want the show to be a vindication of Tolstoy's innocence.'  I want an
hour devoted to the twin deities of truth" ~ she points to one
breast ~ "and beauty" ~ she points to the other.
"Talk about your big events."

Slowing things down, Bette performs a heartfelt version 
of the classic, "Shiver me timbers."

Later in the special, Bette sang, "La Vie En Rose," looking absolutely 
lovely in a red satin evening gown.

Then guest Dustin Hoffman and Bette sang a duet of a song they'd
written together, titled "Shoot the Breeze."  Afterwards, Hoffman 
insisted on playing Rachmaninoff's "Prelude in C-Sharp Minor," despite 
Bette protested that he had to change into his formal attire for their
waltz.  So, while he plays, Bette strips him to his underwear and 
redresses him in a tuxedo.  Hoffman's appearance ends with a 
lovely waltz, which they complete by posing to recreate one 
of the Klimt paintings on the wall, "The Kiss."

Returning from the break, Bette introduces one of her signature
songs, "Hello in there" with a particularly moving account of
the lady who provided the inspiration behind the story, "fried eggs."

During the final segment of the show, Bette sang a delightful version 
of "Do you wanna dance" wearing a fluffy blue housedress, which 
she later rips off to reveal a merry-widow corset and leotard, as she
performs "Higher and Higher."  Without missing a step, the last 
song of the evening is "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."
"Ol' Red Hair is Back" was a big ratings winner and got excellent reviews.
It won the Emmy Award as the Outstanding Variety Special of the 1977
season.  "Bette was in London when the awards took place," Bruce
Vilanch says, "but Aaron flew back for the show.  When he accepted
the Emmy, he forgot to thank Bette.  He never heard the end of it."
United Jewish Telethon

On May 8th, 1975 Bette made an appearance at a telethon for the benefit of the
United Jewish Appeal.  After singing, "Sentimental Journey" and "Boogie
Woogie Bugle Boy," Bette said, "What could be more wonderful?  My first
telethon ~ and at the Ed Sullivan Theater.  Oh my dear, it gives me pause.
The great, the near great and the lame have played here.  Some as recently as
this evening.  But, we did not come here to dump, we came to ask for your
dough.  You know, this cause means so much to me that I am prepared to
'drop my dress for Israel!'
"Out there in television land, I know there is someone who wants to see it.
Someone who wants to be responsible for allowing all of New York to see
the end of my reputation, the end of my career ~ and my legs, which are
the most beautiful in the business.  
Thank you, thank you ~ and kiss my tuches!"

After "Hello in there," Bette asked expectantly, "Did I get it?  
Did I get my pledge?  I got it?  I got it?  Oh, I'm so excited!  
Are you ready?"  Applause, drumroll ~ and Bette did a slow 
bump-and-grind strip-tease to remove her dress, revealing a statin 
slip with the heart on it's front which she wears in her show.  
"I hope you all aren't too disappointed.  I hope you all weren't 
expecting to see the whole thing.  I mean, you're gonna have to
pay a lot more than five grand to see the whole thing!"
Bette closed the program with a show-stopping version of
her signature hit song, "Friends."
"Bing Crosby Special"

In May of 1976, Bette made a guest appearance on the Bing Crosby
television special.  Dressed as a usherette, Bette begins to sing along
with the audience as Crosby is crooning, "Attitude of doing right."
When Bette joined him on stage, they sang along together to the
song, "Accentuate the positive."
Bette then did a solo ~ "Glow worm," complete with a skin-tight
sequinned blue dress with a bow which lit up when she sang, "Glow
little glow worm, glimmer, glimmer."  Midway through the song, the
Mills Brothers joined her to complete it, to great effect.  "I don't
believe it," Bette cried.  "Me and Bing Crosby and the 
Mills Brothers on the same stage."
"Rolling Stone"

~ The Tenth Anniversary ~
Bette and the Harlettes, dressed in their red Chinese print dresses,
sang an electrifying version of the song, "Red!"  Appearing before
the packed house, this intimate performance showcased Bette's
incredible blend of jokes and musical talent.  Following her opening
number, Bette performed a stirring rendition of the timeless classic,
"La Vien Rose."  As she finished her set, she sang a rousing medley,
"Uptown, Don't say nothing bad about my baby, and
Da doo run run."  Which is simply wonderful!
Throughout the years, we have all searched and hoped that one day
we would come across ~ at the very least ~ "a good copy" of Bette's
1977 special "Ol' Red Hair is Back."  Well, imagine my surprise when
the tape that I was given, also included all the rest of the moments
that I have mentioned above.  Honestly, I was laughing as I put the
tape into the vcr . . . by the time, Bette graced the screen with her
song, "Shiver me timbers" from her special, I was reduced to tears.
And I'm being totally serious.
I had hoped throughout the years, that one day I'd find a good
copy of her special, to replace the one that I had, because mine
wasn't the best.  So as these programs unfolded, one by one,
I was completely mesmerized by the quality.
All of the photos that you see above were taken directly from
the video tape.  They haven't been altered in any way.  The
picture was "snapped" and then reduced in size, and then
"sharpened."  That's all . . .
If you would like a copy of this remarkable tape, please
drop me a note.  In the past, I have presented many things
from my collection to others, and for those of you that
I have corresponded with, you know that I really do
try and present the best!
Thank You!
I hope to hear from you!

Hit Counter