Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bette Midler

Today’s WOD is “The Divine Miss M” the outrageous, beautiful, funny, sometimes-crude, always FABULOUS Bette Midler! My first introduction to this amazing woman was when I was a kid watching an HBO show she did showcasing her vaudeville like performances with my dad. I remember thinking who is this bold, divine, broad wearing the mermaid costume? She was unlike anyone I had ever seen. My dad just loved her and, of course, then so did I. Not only is she incredibly entertaining and an icon for every gay man on the planet, she is smart, strong and a fierce advocate for her beloved New York.

Multi Grammy Award-winning singer/comedienne/author who has also proven herself to be a very capable actress in a string of both dramatic and comedic roles, Bette Midler was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on December 1, 1945. She studied drama at the University of Hawaii and got her musical career started by performing in gay bathhouses with piano accompaniment from Barry Manilow. Her first album was "The Divine Miss M" released in November 1972, followed by the self-titled "Bette Midler" released in November 1973, both of which took off up the music charts, and Bette's popularity swiftly escalated from there. She has starred in highly acclaimed films, such as The Rose, Ruthless People, Beaches, and For The Boys. During her more than forty-year career, Midler has been nominated for two Academy Awards, and won four Grammy Awards, four Golden Globes, three Emmy Awards, and a special Tony Award. She has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.

When asked about her parents she responded: “My parents (mother Ruth a seamstress, father Fred a painter) were not encouraging. My father put everybody down. Yeah, it was a real drag but he had his moments. His saving grace was a wicked sense of humour. He was a good provider. They were a team. They were at Pearl Harbour, they knew hardship. My mum was supportive, she had a tinge of showbiz fever and named me and my sisters after Hollywood icons. My dad was like, 'Get a job'. But that gave me something to fight against.”

In 1995, Midler founded the New York Restoration Project (NYRP), a non-profit organization with the goal of revitalizing neglected neighborhood parks in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of New York City. These include Highbridge Park, Fort Washington Park, and Fort Tryon Park in upper Manhattan and Roberto Clemente State Park and Bridge Park in the Bronx.

In 1999, the city planned to auction 114 community gardens for commercial development. Midler led a coalition of greening organizations to save them. NYRP took ownership of 60 of the most neglected plots. Today, Midler and her organization work with local volunteers and community groups to ensure that these gardens are kept safe, clean and vibrant. In 2003, Midler opened Swindler Cove Park, a new 5-acre (20,000 m2) public park on the Harlem River shore featuring specially designed educational facilities and the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse, the first community rowing facility to be built on the Harlem River in more than 100 years. The organization offers free in-school and after-school environmental education programming to students from high-poverty Title I schools.

Known for her incomparable humor, over-the-top imagination and captivating charisma, Bette Midler brought it all to Las Vegas in her production designed exclusively for The Colosseum at Caesars Palace...The Showgirl Must Go On. Filled with plenty of girls and gags and an enchanting repertoire of her greatest hits, the Divine Miss M. light up the stage in the energetic, comical and visually stunning spectacle. Bette Midler strode onto the stage back on Feb. 20, 2008 and did 180 shows two years. In her closing concerts, Midler each night has had her dancers collect contributions from the audience to benefit the Haiti earthquake relief operations, and she's personally matched each dollar donated with a dollar of her own. Her first four shows earned more than $100,000. The total of the final concert was more than $200,000.

Last year, the Nevada Ballet Theater presented Midler with the Woman of the Year Award. Midler says she wants a good, long rest after the two-year run, but already there are rumors that she might return with a simpler one-woman solo acoustic show at Steve Wynn's Encore Theater in the Wynn.

Midler will be selling some of her most iconic outfits and achievements from her 40-year career through Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Nov. 12, 2011 with some of the proceeds benefiting her charity, the New York Restoration Project. Even her Mermaid Costumes, if only I could get my hands on one of them! Bette has always been a personal hero of mine. There is nothing about this woman I don’t love.

“I always try to balance the light with the heavy - a few tears of human spirit in with the sequins and the fringes.”- Bette Midler