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
- "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."
- 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."
- 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."
- ~ 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!