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Bette Midler (born December 1, 1945)

Bette Midler (born December 1, 1945), also known by her informal stage name, The Divine Miss M, is an American singer-songwriter, actress, comedian, film producer and entrepreneur. In a career spanning almost half a century, Midler has been nominated for two Academy Awards, and won three Grammy Awards, four Golden Globes, three Emmy Awards, and a special Tony Award. She has sold over 30 million albums worldwide and along with that has also received 13 Gold, 8 Platinum and 4 Multiplatinum albums by RIAA. She began singing in the Continental Baths, a gay bathhouse in the city, in the summer of 1970. During this time, she became close to her piano accompanist, Barry Manilow, who produced her first album in 1972, The Divine Miss M. It was during her time at the Continental Baths that she built up a core following. In the late 1990s, during the release of her album Bathhouse Betty, Midler commented on her time performing there, "Despite the way things turned out [with the AIDS crisis], I'm still proud of those days. I feel like I was at the forefront of the gay liberation movement, and I hope I did my part to help it move forward. So, I kind of wear the label of 'Bathhouse Betty' with pride".

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Midler began her professional career in several Off-Off-Broadway plays prior to her engagements in Fiddler on the Roof and Salvation on Broadway in the late 1960s. Throughout her career, many of her songs became hits on the record charts, including "The Rose" and "Wind Beneath My Wings" as well as her renditions of "Do You Wanna Dance?", "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", and "From a Distance". In 2008, she signed a contract with Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to perform a series of shows titled Bette Midler: The Showgirl Must Go On, which ended in January 2010.

Midler made her motion picture debut in 1979 with The Rose which earned her a Golden Globe and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress of 1980. In the following years she starred in a string of hit films that includes Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Outrageous Fortune, Beaches, The First Wives Club, and The Stepford Wives as well as For the Boys and Gypsy, the latter two for which she won two further Golden Globe Awards in 1992 and 1994.

Midler founded the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) in 1995, 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.

When the city planned in 1991 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.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bette_Midler

Further Readings:

Bette Midler: Still Divine by Mark Bego
Hardcover: 440 pages
Publisher: Cooper Square Press; 1st Cooper Square Press Ed edition (November 8, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0815412320
ISBN-13: 978-0815412328
Amazon: Bette Midler: Still Divine
Amazon Kindle: Bette Midler: Still Divine

Bego's biography of the Divine Miss M covers the singer and actress's life from her early years in Hawaii where she was born to her current standing among the entertainment elite. Midler's career as a brassy and bawdy nightclub act moved up a rung when her cover of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" entered the Top Ten in 1972. By 1979, she had earned an Oscar nomination and a Grammy for her contributions to the film The Rose. Since then she has won over audiences with her performances in Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Ruthless People, Beaches, and The First Wives Club, and earned a second Oscar nomination for For the Boys. As a singer, she's scored successes with "From a Distance" and the number one single "Wind Beneath My Wings." Fans of this all-around entertainer, who continues to appear in films and record music, will find that Bette Midler is the authoritative resource on the star's life.

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Tags: gay classics, persistent voices
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