Few performers have ever had as storied and illustrious career as the incomparable Bette Midler, even less have risen to become a gay icon. That may be partly due to the fact she has never forgotten where her career began, on Broadway and performing at the gay Continental Baths in New York. With Barry Manilow as her accompanist, she literally made a name for herself as “Bathhouse Betty” performing on weekends to a loyal following in the early 70s.
Rare archival footage from the Continental Baths of Bathhouse Betty performing “Friends”
Her 1972 debut album, The Divine Miss M went platinum; she received a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1973; and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” went to No 1.
The Divine Miss M proved she was not only a brilliant singer, but a hilarious comedian creating unforgettable characters like Delores Delago and her “bawdy” homage to her idol Miss Sophie Tucker with backup girls, “The Harlettes.”
In 1979, she had first starring role in the film, The Rose for which she received her first of two Academy Award nominations for the nearly three dozen films of her career.
In 2008, she began her new Las Vegas show, Bette Midler: The Showgirl Must Go On with a two year residence bring back her “Harlettes,” adding 20 “Caesar Salad Girls” and a full orchestra.
But once a showgirl always a showgirl; and now Bette Midler is “back where she belongs” on Broadway and ready to open in the iconic title role of Hello Dolly! on April 2oth.