Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on December 1, 1945, Bette Midler grew up in a predominantly Asian neighborhood and attended Radford High School. She went on to study drama at the University of Hawaii at Manoa; however, she never completed the course. With the money she had earned as an extra on the film Hawaii, she relocated to New York City in the summer of 1965. She soon landed roles Off-Off-Broadway in Tom Eyen’s Cinderella Revisited and Miss Nefertiti Regrets. Her big break would come just one year later in 1966, when she made her Broadway debut as Tzeitel in the original Broadway premiere of Fiddler on the Roof at the Imperial Theatre. She was a member of the Broadway cast until 1969, when she would make her Off-Broadway debut as Betty Lou in the musical Salvation.
After striking up a friendship with Barry Manilow, Bette Midler launched her music career in 1972 with her debut album The Divine Miss M, which Manilow produced. Over the course of her career, she has released a total of 14 studio albums and won three Grammy Awards (with an additional nine nominations) including Best New Artist and nods for her hits The Rose and Wind Beneath My Wings. Other standards include her renditions of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Do You Want to Dance, and From a Distance.
Bette Midler’s film career was launched with a breakthrough performance in The Rose in 1979, which won her a Golden Globe and her first Academy Award nomination. Her second Oscar nomination came in 1991 after her performance in For the Boys. Over the years, she has starred in a plethora of hit movies, the most notable appearances being in Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Outrageous Fortune, Beaches, Hocus Pocus, The First Wives Club, and The Stepford Wives. On television, she also gained great acclaim for starring as Mama Rose in the 1993 TV movie version of Gypsy, winning her fourth Golden Globe, and for her TV comedy series Bette, which aired from 2000 to 2001.
Despite her skyrocketing music and film career, Midler has often remained loyal to the Broadway community. She has graced Broadway throughout the decades with special concert engagements such as Bette Midler in 1973 (receiving a Special Tony Award for “adding lustre to the Broadway season” in 1974), Bette Midler’s Clams on the Half Shell Revue in 1975, and Bette! Divine Madness in 1979, as well as a solo play called I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers in 2013. She also served as a producer on the 2011 Broadway premiere of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. However, it wasn’t until March 15, 2017, when she would once again appear in a traditional Broadway musical for the first time since Fiddler on the Roof. She took on the title role in the acclaimed 2017 Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly! and went on to win the Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical at the 71st annual Tony Awards ceremony. She ended her run as Dolly Gallagher Levi on January 14, 2018.
Midler returned to her Tony-winning role for the final six weeks of the Broadway run of Hello, Dolly! from July 17 through August 25, 2018.
Mar 15, 2017 - Aug 26, 2018