BetteBack 1976: The Divine Bette Midler Dazzles Valley Forge (March 10, 1976)

Delaware County Daily Times
The Divine Dazzles Valley Forge
March 10, 1976

VALLEY FORGE – Zany, zealous, wild and witty – this was the Divine Miss M as she stormed the Valley Forge Music Fair last Friday night.

For two and one half hours, Bette Midler, the latest box office hit, shimmied, shook and sang for a full house. Glittered get-iips were scarce, but all the fan’s who came were energized by the red-headed performer.

Born in Hawaii, Bette came to New York in 1965. She worked her way from a go-go dancer in New Jersey, to a coffee house singer in Greenwich Village, to Tevye’s d a u g h t e r in “Fiddler on the Roof” in New York.

She leapt to stardom out of the Continental Baths in New York. From Baths to Broadway, Bette evolved into a box office record holder and for the past four years has been inundated with offers from every phase of the entertainment industry.

Now on a 20-city, 80-perfonnance tour, she is starring at Valley Forge until Saturday.

Prior to this Philadelphia appearance, the redheaded rocket was ill in Boston. So the crazy comedienne came on stage atop a hospital bed, opening with her theme song “Friends.”

The Divine’s versatility was evident as she sang, danced and cracked jokes. Her manner is mildly reminiscent of Mae West as she tells her bawdy Sophie Tucker jokes and ridicules late comers.

Bette comes down hard on Philadelphia, in an affectionate way . “Oh, Filthy-delphia, Filthydelphia.” And because she insists t h a t “Filthyd e l p h i a n s ” w i ll be spreading her jokes around town, she makes the audience repeat one of her favorites, line for line.

The merry M i d l e r mentioned her fanny shot in “Time Magazine” taken when she received the Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year Award. No fanny shots for Philly!

Bette was w e a r i n g bloomers for the beginning of the first act. She later discarded the baggie suit to
reveal a shiny, silver dress and later appeared in knickers and a T-shirt. “I am an artiste, though,” she claimed.

And an artist she is. Not always the happy clown, Bette mixes pathos with hysteria. Moods change quickly from loud laughter to quiet attentiveness as she renders her tunes.

Her myriad of musical styles was displayed as she sang the mellow Neil Young song, “Birds,” and then belted out the rousing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” Her voice can sound as forceful as a brass band and as soft as a kitten’s purr.

The Divine Miss M has c h a r i s m a . S h e is simultaneously coy and c r u d e , g r a c e f ul and
gushing. Her energetic, and dynamic m a n n e r is exhausting, but she never shows signs of slowing
down.

Following a standing ovation, Bette closed her stimulating show with an encore of “Friends “

From Philly Bette looks forward to the success of her new album, “Songs For The New Depression,” an imminent motion picture and television deal, and making more friends.

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