Unapologetically bawdy, Bette Midler used elements from earlier brassy entertainers like Sophie Tucker in her comedy and music, but with a style that was all her own. Midler earned her first New York theater role as Tevye’s daughter in Fiddler on the Roof, meanwhile also performing at the Improvisation Club and the Continental Baths, a gay pool where she developed some of her most outrageous routines. In 1970, she appeared on Johnny Carson, gaining a national audience, and appeared in her first movie, The Rose, in 1979. She had a series of hit comedies in the 1980s, including Down and Out in Beverly Hills and Outrageous Fortune before turning to dramas like Beaches. She formed All Girl Productions, through which she made Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, among other films, and toured extensively as a singer, breaking ticket sale records for her appearances at Radio City Music Hall. She has been honored with three Grammys, four Golden Globes, three Emmys, and two Tonys (a special one in 1974 for her contributions to Broadway and Best Actress for the revival of Hello Dolly! in 2017). In 1995, she founded the New York Restoration Project, buying up city-owned gardens to prevent them from being decommissioned.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Bette Midler." (Viewed on January 17, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/midler-bette>.