Quips & Quotes
“This is the Divine Miss M — everything you’re afraid your little girls will grow up to be. And your little boys, too!” (The Early Clubs Tour, 1972)
“If GOD had not intended for a man to eat pu**y, he wouldn’t have
shaped it like a taco.”Â -Bette Midler
“I’m the people’s diva and I go where my people are. My people happen to be drinking, gambling and whoring in Vegas.” (The Showgirl Must Go On, 2008)
â€œIâ€™m not retiring and you canâ€™t make meâ€œ(Kiss My Brass, 2004)
â€œDonâ€™t let me wake up tomorrow and wanna put a fried egg on my headâ€ (The Bette Midler Show 1976)
“Find your light…they can’t love you, if they can’t see you.” (The Showgirl must go on 2008)
I opened the door for trashy singers with bad taste and big tits (KMB 2004)
About Designer clothes:
â€œThe sexy part with your ass is hanging out. First of all, most women donâ€™t have that ass anymore anyway. Only the 12 and 13 year olds and most moms donâ€™t want that the 12 and 13 year olds asses hanging out. That Iâ€™ll rest my case.â€ (Bette Midler Gaultier 2003)
About Hocus Pocus:
â€œThat was my finest hour. I was fantastic in that movie. In fact, Iâ€˜ve been rotten in couple of movies, but not that one. I was really hilarious in that.â€ (AI Finale 2006)
â€œYou have to make some peace with yourself and find a really good photographer. That helps.â€ (Biography Channel Interview 2004)
â€œAnd I feel like the dealer is judging me. â€¦ Just because Iâ€™m the only one there at the table with a sliderule.â€ (The Tonight Show with Jay Leno 2008)
It’s all right for anybody to be who they are just as long as they don’t let their dogs shit in the street. (1975)
“It’s been ten years since I lived here in LA, and I have to tell you something. From the bottom of my heart, I’ve really missed you assholes. You superficial assholes!” (Bette Midler thanks the audience at the close of her triumphant return to Los Angeles in her hit show Kiss My Brass, March 2004)
Vogue on the outside, vague on the inside.
Shut your hole honey, mines making money! (The Depression Tour, 1975-1976)
Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke! (Divine Madness, 1979)
I’m as confident as Cleopatra’s pussy.
I bear no grudges. I have a mind that retains nothing.
I never know how much of what I say is true
I have my standards. They may be low, but I have them.
Cherish forever what makes you unique, ‘cuz you’re really a yawn if it goes.
I married a German. Every night I dress up as Poland and he invades me.
(From the album, “Mud Will Be Flung Tonight”)
It’s the point of your view that decides what you see.
One man’s flop is another man’s hit.
From manners to movies, the picture keeps changing,
Depending upon where you sit.
(From her best-selling book, “The Saga of Baby Divine”)
Make sure that life is a rare entertainment!
It doesn’t take anything drastic.
You needn’t be gorgeous or wealthy or smart,
Just very enthusiastic!
(From her best selling book, “The Saga of Baby Divine”)
Rap is poetry set to music. But to me it’s like a jackhammer.
The worst part of success is trying to find someone who is happy for you.
My idea of superwoman is someone who scrubs her own floors.
If sex is such a natural phenomenon, how come there are so many books on how to do it?
When it’s three o’clock in New York, it’s still 1938 in London.
I wouldn’t say I invented tacky, but I definitely brought it to its present high popularity.
I’m working my way toward divinity.
I feel like a million tonight – but one at a time.
I always try to balance the light with the heavy – a few tears of human spirit in with the sequins and the fringes.
Cats always seem so very wise, when staring with their half-closed eyes. Can they be thinking, “I’ll be nice, and maybe she will feed me twice?”
We didn’t have a lot of mirrors when I was growing up. We had one mirror, a cracked mirror: You know in my minds eye I’m beautiful, tall and thin and glamourous. (From the book, “Icons”, by Denise Worrell)
If I were a boat, I’d be a tugboat. Squat, hardworking, homey, with a touch of whimsy. I’ve always thought of myself as the Tugboat Annie-type. (11/14/83)
â€¦Everything is so fragmented, and the niches are so tiny, and it’s only gonna get worse. It is the Balkanization of music and society, and it panders to really stupid people. (Speaking of marketing and the music business, The Washington Times, 1998)
â€¦I’m a split personality. There’s part of me that says be good, pay your taxes, don’t go off the deep end. And then there’s the other part of me that wants to spit in the subway and show my bazooms…” (People, 05-04-1987)
Audiences have lowered their expectations,” she told a Florida newspaper in May. “Things have changed so that you don’t ever have to sing in tune. It’s over. It’ll never be the way it was. It’s the tenor of the times. (May 1994)
To say we are now free love, who invented that? That was guys invented that, because the women have all the burden of free love. (BARBARA WALTERS, A CELEBRATION: 100 YEARS OF GREAT WOMEN. , ABC Special Report, 04-30-1999.)
Pleeeeeese! Pleeeeese! People! A diva never, never does requests. (from “Experience the Divine” 1993)
In a funny way, I’m just a big housekeeper. Martha Stewart has it to a much worse degree, but it’s definitely a compulsion. It’s my dictator gene — ‘Let’s all live beautiful!’ (Ladies Home Journal, 1999)
I’ m very happy to be here as a politically active Hollywood woman. I used to be a sexually active Hollywood woman, but these days politics is much safer. (Michael Dukakis Democratic Fundraiser in Beverly Hills, 1988)
In Hawaii I was the chief chunker in a pineapple canning factor. I used to come home smelling like a compote.
If only I’d known that one day my differentness would be an asset, then my early life would have been much easier.
I married a saint and gave birth to an angel.
I’m pretty gutsy, but I’m intimidated by tremendous accomplishment… and by people who are very tall.
We’re all divine, but I was the only one who had the nerve to call myself that. And I thought of it first. So there!
My whole life had been spent waiting for an epiphany, a manifestation of God’s presence, the kind of transcendent, magical experience that lets you see your place in the big picture. And that is what I had with my first compost heap.
I became more sure of myself as a person when I took the anti-advertising stand and decided I wouldn’t let them tell me what personality to have. When I decided that I didn’t want to look the way they wanted me to look and decided that I would look exactly the opposite way and do it just the opposite of the way they were telling me to do it. That’s when I took control of my own destiny and that’s when the success started happening. (Record World – May 19, 1973)
I know now that I can take people on a theatrical adventure or I can take them on a musical adventure or I can take them on an encounter group. Once you eliminate the fear that you can’t do it, then you are free. And I’m very nearly free. (Record World – May 19, 1973)
I think I am a little bit of a schizophrenic, because I have a lot of little characters who live inside me and they all have different voices and they all pop out at strange times. It’s as much a surprise to me as it is to anybody else. But it’s very entertaining. You see, I try never to â€“ not ever – be bored. Oh, yes, dahling, one must nevah, nevah, nevuh be bored. (Stereo Review: June 1977)
People have said nice things about me and incredibly nasty things about me, it’s hard for me – I won’t say it isn’t. But in this business, you can’t play it safe. You have to take a lot of risks. You have to take your lumps. You do your best. Some people are gonna love it, some people are gonna hate it, you know? That’s the game. (Stereo Review: June 1977)
You know, I like people to make me laugh. It’s the only way to survive. The whole thing, after all, is one big joke. So, whatever anyone wants to think about me is fine. That’s what I’m here for, that’s my role. I can be an object of love, hate, it doesn’t matter. As long as I like myself. (Stereo Review: June 1977)
…As for being categorized, I don’t think anyone could categorize me at all â€“ because Iâ€™m beginning to get all kinds of people now. I love those boys at the baths because they were the first audience to encourage me. They will always mean a lot to me but that doesn’t mean that I can’t branch out and reach other people, other groups as well … I mean, I don’t categorize myself, so why let anyone else do it and think they have me all figured out? (Rolling Stone: February 15, 1973)
White males, boy. They’re so full of shit they’re gonna get theirs from the Third World and from women. (People Magazine: January 7, 1980)
I think that people should never stop working no matter how old they are. I think there should be no such thing as retirement. Retirement is the pathway to an early grave. When you loose your work and what interests you, you lose your will to live, and Iâ€™m not that kind of person.â€ (The Advocate: April 23, 1975)
It’s dangerous to read reviews â€“ the good ones or the bad ones. I was crippled twice in my career by bad reviews, and I almost don’t read them at all anymore. The bad ones hurt your feelings, and the good ones make you forget who you really are: They swell your head and they make you think yours s— doesn’t stink. When you stoop to that, whatever you had flies right out the window and you’re just a shell. You’re nothing. (New West: March 13, 1978)
That’s what the sixties did. The sixties showed us that everybody is full of s—, and that’s why the whole dream has broken down. There’s no room left for respect. It used to be that there were people who were not full of s—, and you could depend on them for that. Well, no more. If Jesus Christ came back, he’d find it tough sledding today, you know? (New West: March 13, 1978)
Oh, there was a time when I considered being a foreign diplomat. But I didn’t think they were appointing women to that sort of post then — and besides, I wasnâ€™t very diplomatic! (Movie News: 1979)
I am totally addicted to my work. I love it very much and I am always working. When I stop thinking it is like I am dead. My brain has to be in a constant state of arousal, that’s when I feel the best. (Veronica: March 29, 1980)
They come to see me, and they keep coming back, because I say and do things they’d love to do, but wouldn’t dare. I can insult people or be outrageously tacky or vulgar, but people know I’m just kidding. (Photoplay: March 1980)
If you let your character define your personality instead of keeping your true self separate, your character will get you.Â (Rolling Stone: December 9, 1982)
If you can accept your differentness and learn to love it and encourage it, then you can be someone wonderful. (Saturday Review, 1983)
It’s best not to be too pompous about yourself,” she says. “It’s better not to need a limousine for your head. Although people think I’m just Divine, I have my share of worries. I worry about growing old and losing my shape, my looks, my hair. As an entertainer, that’s my stock and trade. Oh, and I also worry that I don’t dance as well as Michael Jackson. (Saturday Review, 1983)
I put up a wonderful front in A View from A Broad and I’m proud of it. Writers should embroider stories all the time. They should entertain people and make them feel good. To entertain, you have to do a certain amount of acting, on the stage as well as on the page. My first book was a lot of acting.(Saturday Review, 1983)
I consider myself a New Yorker. I’ve had a lot of good times in New York, and I’ve had a lot of success. I’ve put a lot of effort into the city, and I really love it, but I was born and brought up in Hawaii. I go there at least a couple of times a year, and I still feel like a Hawaiian. You know, you’re always happiest in your childhood home. My heart is there. That’s where I’m comfortable. (New York Post, Jan 2, 2004)
“You have to hang on to your health,” says Midler, who turned 58 on Dec. 1. “You have to hang on to your wind, so you have to run on the treadmill.” It all boils down to this: “When you go on the road, you’re going into retreat for as long as the tour lasts. Otherwise you don’t make it. “Basically, you live like a monk.” (Detroit Free Press, Jan 4, 2004)
“When my guts tell me to go, I go. I wanted to go last year (2002) but I wasn’t strong enough. . . . I was pretty tired last year: 9/11 took a big toll on everybody. We were doing lots and lots of benefits, lots of memorials. It was going on and on for a long time, a very sad time. I feel a little bit better now, so here we are.” (Detroit Free Press, Jan 4, 2004)
“I’ve become a good citizen, raised a beautiful daughter, helped a lot in New York City (working with the New York Restoration Project)….. I’ve achieved a measure of dignity. In life, you’re not supposed to get worse as you grow up…. I’m racy and bawdy but not threatening.” (Ohio Beacon Journal, Jan 1, 2004)
“I did my best work there.(for the movie, “The Rose”)It was a time all my dreams were coming true,” she said wistfully. “I still work with those wonderful people. There’s a little bit of The Rose in the show. We have a couple of songs from it, When a Man Loves a Woman and Keep on Rocking. And we have a couple of surprises to go along with it.” (Ohio Beacon Journal, Jan 1, 2004)
“Maybe it sounds like sour grapes … but I turn the television on and, for the most part, so much of it is garbage. It’s incessant. Even the news is garbage,” Midler says. “When you watch the news, you used to get the news. Michael Jackson, yes, he did this or didn’t do it. But it’s not more important than what happened in Iraq. It simply isn’t. And this Laci, this guy who did or didn’t kill his wife — this is not news.” (2004)
“I opened the door for trashy singers with bad taste and big tits!” (Kiss My Brass, 2004)
“I think the ill-tempered and venal quality of my true self is reflected.”
(BETTE MIDLER, half-joking about the semi-autobiographical character she plays on her new CBS sitcom, “Bette,” to New York’s Daily News)
“Basically, what I was doing was a character that has always had a place in show business, and that’s the Broad. People always love a broad–someone with a sense of humor, someone with a fairly wicked tongue, someone who can belt out a song, someone who takes no guff. When I came up, there wasn’t anyone like that. The last one, I’d have to say, was Sophie Tucker.”
“Cherish forever what makes you unique, ‘cuz you’re really a yawn if it goes.”
“I don’t have any heroes. I don’t lionize anyone. To my credit, I think…I know that I’m unique, and I know that I’m different and special, and I’m thrilled to death to be this person…when you have heroes like that, it tends to make you feel helpless. You think, ‘*uck, Jesus was 33 and he changed the whole world, and I’m 34 and I haven’t done nuthin’.’ If you sit around doing that all day, you’re REALLY not gonna do nuthin’.”
“I adore deceit and I don’t mind being misquoted. I will not, however, allow myself to be made to sound boring to my countless fans who are convinced that I am, if not Jackie O., then certainly the next best thing!”
“Despite the way things turned out [AIDS], I’m still proud of those days [when I got my start singing at the gay bathhouses in New York City]. 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.”
“I am never very far away from my spirit., it’s just a quarter of an inch below the surface of my skin. It’s been very responsive to nature and to the lifeforms around me and I think that’s part of having a spiritual nature.Â At the end of the line you come to some sort of enlightenment and that enlightenment is, that we’re all in this together and that things have to fall away from your in order for you to find where that spirit really lies within yourself.”
“This cause means so much to me…that I am prepared, for the pledge of a mere five thousand dollars to drop my dress for Israel!
“I have the magic words: ‘I don’t care anymore!'”
“Was I a funny-looking kid? Well, yeah. I mean, I had the frizzy hair and I wore these cat’s-eye glasses…no, they were NOT on a chain! Thank GOD!” (Barbra Walters: Interviews of a Lifetime)
“I didn’t belong as a kid, and that always bothered me. If only I’d known that one day my differentness would be an asset, then my early life would have been much easier.”
“Me, I’m just a hack. I’m just a schlepper. I just do what I can do.” –Bette Midler
“[Our father] didn’t like us wearing make up and we had a curfew some ridiculous hour like ten o’clock, and if you weren’t in the house you usually got locked out. Us sisters were always sticking up for each other and always sneaking each other in the window at night.”
“Music is the truest expression of myself,” she asserts. “Working in film, you’re basically at the mercy of someone else’s vision. With a record, I’m the final arbiter. And I like having that kind of control. Of course, when I’m singing I’m also acting. Every song should be a scene…it should take you someplace and leave you with a feeling…but I’m attracted to the words and if the words aren’t well put together, I have a hard time relating to the song. I’m an actor, even in my music, and an actor needs words.”
“I’ve never known anyone to tell the truth about sex EVER! Have you? I have never, ever . . .I have never told the truth about sex.”Â (Bette Midler on Larry King Live in October 1998, discussing the Clinton/Monica/Kenn Starr fiasco)
“There’s nothing in this world that is more worthy to own than compassion.”
“In trying to help someone else you will find your self.”
“I have my standards. They may be low, but I have them.” — Bette Midler
“I’m as confident as Cleopatra’s pussy.” — Bette Midler
“Live like every day is your last, work like you don’t need the money, love like you’ve never been hurt, and dance like nobody’s watching.”
“I’m pretty gutsy, but I’m intimidated by tremendous accomplishment… and by people who are very tall”
“My specialty is to make people laugh really, really hard and then turn around and make them cry. That’s what I do.”
“When I moved to New York, I was very disappointed in how parts of the city looked. I was so upset, I didn’t sleep for weeks. I love New Yorkers, and I’m like them. I’m noisy, I have my opinions, but I’m not used to the kind of carelessness and waste that I was seeing. People were throwing their garbage out the window, leaving their lunches on the ground. Finally, I realized I needed to actually do something — even if I had to pick up the stuff with my own two hands.”
“My whole life had been spent waiting for an epiphany, a manifestation of God’s presence, the kind of transcendent, magical experience that lets you see your place in the big picture. And that is what I had with my first compost heap.”Â ~Bette Midler
“I like art and I like work. And the whole thrust of my life has been toward those two things, with romance and family and friends and all other human contact simply tributaries of what is the great stream of my life: my work.”
“I LOVE the idea of being a wild woman, but I don’t really want to be one. I think about the consequences. I’m not big on consequences.”
“Work is a process of finding out who you are, once you do you can lie down.”
” I’ve always said what other people were afraid to say, and always in the shortest, tightest skirt possible.”
How the album got it’s name: “One morning I was alone in my beach house making coffee and I heard someone outside the door shouting ‘Bathhouse Betty! Bathhouse Betty! Come Out!’ It was some drunken fan, holding the most pathetic bouquest of wilted flowers. Of course, I was frightened, but at the same time it was so funny. I thought to myself,’Well, Bette, I guess you haven’t come so far after all…'”
“I love to work. I love the idea of putting a show together, and I love the idea of putting musical numbers together – and putting commentary together and character. I love that..I love it!! That’s the only time I’m really alive. I never learned to relax. When I don’t work, I feel half-alive.”
“I think that it’s a celebration – that it’s an examination, on a very superficial level, of things that are bad in life. Things that are hard to deal with — but mostly it’s a celebration of the things that are wonderful in life: toe-tapping music; flinging your body about and not caring where it lands and being physically irresponsible. It’s being carefree for an hour and a half and happy-go-lucky..that’s my favorite phrase for it — it’s joy…it’s joy! It really is!! I always forget that..I can never keep that in my head..but that is what I always try to transmit…it’s corny– so damned corny, but so….so wonderful”
“You know, I wanted to leave you with the memory of the good beneath the gaudy, the saint beneath the paint, the pure little soul that lurks beneath this lurid exterior… but then again I figured: Fuck’EM IF THEY CAN’T TAKE A JOKE!”
[when asked by Parade magazine whether she will retire after her show in Las Vegas] I think so. I must say, my high kick is just as high as it ever was, thanks to tai chi. But everything is a bit slower. The mind – things don’t stick the way they used to. I feel like I’m going out with a bang. It’s something my husband and I have talked about. I certainly don’t want to die in harness. I’m not one of those people.
I want world peace. Please. Just for my sake, before I go. I also hope that Meryl Streep has the good taste to step aside and let the rest of us have a crack… but I know she won’t. She has a really good agent. She’s great, but I know there are some ladies behind her saying, “Meryl, for God’s sake, do you have to say yes to everything?”.
I’m kind of healthy but has a little bit of arthritis, my eyes are a little shaky. I drank a little, I didn’t do drugs to any great extent. I do get depressed but not like you do if you drink or do drugs. I have pretty bad melancholia, but I’ve found you can get rid of that by exercising. [I have therapy.] A lot of people don’t love what they do and I do. I still love music and I love, love, love to dance. For most women – I can’t speak for men – I’d say dancing is the key to happiness.
I love Barbara Hershey and Lainie Kazan. I had no idea “Beaches” was an ‘uberweepie’! The nerve! It wasn’t so bad. I co-produced it. It was a pretty damned good screenplay. I thought it was just another movie. I didn’t think of it as a women’s picture. I was so excited to be able to sing again and have a soundtrack.
Thank God for the gays. I don’t know what would have happened but I know what did happen. Good for them and good for me.
I was riveting. Yes, it was a place where gay men met and had sex. I didn’t see that. Someone sent me a picture showing me in a 1930s costume with my hair pulled back and all these cute young men in bathrobes watching me. It seemed very innocent. I would stand at the top of a little staircase with a towel round my head and act out whacked-out movie heroines. Patti LaBelle played there, too. I wasn’t there long, but I was there long enough to make a splash, ha-ha.
I’ve never been to a sex orgy in my entire life. Studio 54 was way worse than the baths.
I’m glad my daughter has been [university educated]. I sometimes think I should go back to school to learn French and music, but who would have me?
I’m an open-space person. I’m not a believer in sprawl. I don’t particularly care for postmodern architecture. I believe in solid fare and building fair. I’m green to the core. This group I run in New York bought 60 community gardens and helped another group to buy 55 in congested neighbourhoods. I’m doing a similar thing in Hawaii, but it’s harder there, the tracts are so big and there are these things about road zoning, dams, reservoirs…
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.
[on growing up in Hawaii]: We were very poor, it was a hard-scrabble childhood, not particularly happy. The best part was nature, which is so intense there. The sky is bright blue, the clouds are puffy, the grass is lush, it feels like you can touch the stars. But the people were not very nice. I was a white kid in a mostly Asian neighbourhood. You heard Hawaii was a great melting pot? Hooey. I had a very strong fantasy life. Sorry, what was the question? I’m bonkers. Where am I? Who am I? I love your socks.
I thought I would be an actorrrr. I thought I’d be Ethel Barrymore. I didn’t know who she was, but she was my idea of an actorrrr. It seemed it would be more fun to be someone else rather than myself.
On desire: If somebody makes me laugh, I’m his slave for life.
I’m not just vain, I’m ignorant. I’m vignorant!
I celebrate everyone’s religious holidays. if it’s good enough for the righteous, it’s good enough for the self-righteous, I always say.
[Accusing Lady Gaga of stealing her Dolores DeLago routine] I’ve been doing singing mermaid since 1980. You can keep the meat dress and the firecracker boobs. Mermaid’s mine.
As Joan Crawford once said, “I’ll show ya a pair of Golden Globes!”.
[on Susan Boyle] She is an act whose time has come. People love that voice. She sings straight. She doesn’t do a lot of riffing. There are no trills, no thrills. Its straight singing and it comes from the heart.
As an actor you’re supposed to take jobs that will challenge you or force fans to see you in a different light. By the ’90s, I wasn’t really an actor anymore. I was someone who went on the road with these gigantic concerts. I got so far away from what they told you in acting class: Do something different. Producers kept offering me the “Sister Act” movie, but I said, “My fans don’t want to see me in a wimple.” I literally said, “My fans don’t want to see me in a wimple.”.
[on Sue Mengers who she played on Broadway] Sue even had a friend blowing marijuana smoke into her face as she passed away. She was high until the bitter end.
[on “Misery”] I turned that down because I didn’t want to saw off someone’s foot, even though the role won an Oscar [for Kathy Bates]. It was stupid to say no to those pictures. And while I was unsure about doing this play [on Broadway as Sue Mengers], I felt it was time for me to say yes.
[on her Broadway debut in one-woman show “I’ll Eat You Last”] I’d never done a straight play before, never, and it was very hard work – really, really hard work. It was dense, really wordy, and I was determined to learn every word of it – not just skip over bits and pieces. It took me a long time to actually know what the play was about – that it was a long aria with slow-moving parts, and parts with laughs and tears, and that my job was to switch gears pretty radically and seamlessly in ways that I had never done before. And this wasn’t like just one day of shooting for a movie – you had to stay healthy, your brain had to stay sharp, and you needed enough wind so when a sentence went on like a paragraph, I could still breathe. There were moments I had to eat candy, and I would have a mouth full of saliva, but no time to swallow it – so I had to learn to perform through moments like that.
[her reaction of Broadway audiences] I learned to accept the audience’s happiness for me, which is one of the hardest things for me to learn. I had a hard-scrabble childhood with my parents. I have a lot of baggage. To come down to the footlights and accept the audience’s affection inside a Broadway theater – that didn’t come easily to me. Sue Mengers was way tougher than I am. You go through your life, you’re a certain age, a lot of things have happened to me, but I needed to put those aside and let the audience affect me in a simple way.
[on smoking for Sue Mengers role] The cigarettes nearly killed me. I answer the phone now and people calling think it’s my husband. And my allergies in that theater – it’s a very old theater. And the hairspray! I never used hairspray. And the wigs! Let’s not talk about the fricking wigs, that was such a saga. But the cigarettes were the hardest. When I made “The Rose”, I did smoke, I smoked for six months, and years later I tried a cigarette again and it made me sick for two weeks. These are herbal cigarettes, but smoke is smoke. I was thrilled, though, when I finally got the timing down to smoke two at once – a cigarette in one hand and a joint in the other. That was Sue.
I’m incapable of doing anything other than entertaining. I can barely add and I’ve never been able to do my own taxes. It’s a good thing I’ve been blessed with this fantastic will to go forward, even when I hit the skids.
When I first heard “Wind Beneath My Wings”, I thought: “I’m not singing that.” [Longtime friend and producer] Marc Shaiman insisted and it was the biggest hit of my career.
Charm is something a lot of today’s young artists could do with. Maybe I’ll start a charm school, like they had at Motown. They don’t see it takes more than looking cute and not falling over in high heels.
My father loved me, but until the day he died he thought it was a total waste of time and that I should have been a teacher or a nurse.
Fame and money was partly what drove me to leave Hawaii for New York to become a singer when I was 19. When you are poor – and we were really poor – it’s human nature to want to better yourself.
[on “Beaches”] No one was more surprised than me at how it took off and has such a place in the hearts of so many generations.
The glass ceiling still exists. It’s getting a little better for women, but past a certain age, certainly not.
I think I’ve been really lucky because my gay crowd had followed me to the limit and the fact that they are so vocal and so full of joy each time they see me, I think that’s a very infectious energy in the audience at my shows. I think they’re the ones who brought the straight people around and it’s because of them that people get me to such a wonderful degree now.
[on what she perceives as the ‘pornification’ of pop music] Well, whatever strictures there were have fallen apart. And now it’s whatever you feel like doing you can do. I mean, apparently people really like to pretend they’re having sex. They really like to slap each other’s butts. [My advice?] Trust your talent. You don’t have to make a whore of yourself to get ahead. You really don’t.
[on the ‘girl bands’ of her youth] The Ronettes, The Chiffons, The Marvelettes, The Crystals.. they were completely and utterly wholesome and whimsical. And optimistic. The music was very optimistic and upbeat. The ballads were sometimes sad, but you knew things were going to turn out in the end. The music wasn’t bleak. This was before Bob Dylan, you know.
If you wants something done, you’d better do it yourself – or ask another woman to do it.
[observation, 2015] Don’t I look fabulous? I’m a triumph of science and fiction.
â€œThe only thing Madonna will ever do like a virgin is give birth in a stable.â€
â€•Bette Midler (Source/Notes: From her album ‘Mud will be Flung Tonight)
â€œGroup conformity scares the pants off me because it’s so often a prelude to cruelty towards anyone who doesn’t want to – or can’t – join the Big Parade.â€ â€•Bette Midler
â€œI’d make a wonderful Lady Macbeth. I’ll wear a pair of platform shoes or something.â€ â€•Bette Midler
â€œA lot of people say that my life is wasted on me because I could be a bigger asshole than I am, but I’ve chosen not to be.â€Â â€•Bette Midler (Source/Notes: The Strip podcast interviewed by Steve Friess[12 27 2007 @ 20:59]PODXIES)
â€œItâ€™s best not to be too pompous about yourself. Itâ€™s better not to need a limousine for your head. Although people think Iâ€™m just ‘divine,’ I have my share of worries. I worry about growing old and losing my shape, my looks, my hair. As an entertainer, thatâ€™s my stock and trade. Oh, and I also worry that I donâ€™t dance as well as Michael Jackson.â€
â€œI became more sure of myself as a person when I took the anti-advertising stand and decided I wouldnâ€™t let them tell me what personality to have. When I decided that I didnâ€™t want to look the way they wanted me to look and decided that I would look exactly the opposite way and do it just the opposite of the way they were telling me to do it. Thatâ€™s when I took control of my own destiny and thatâ€™s when the success started happening.â€
â€œI consider myself a New Yorker. Iâ€™ve had a lot of good times in New York, and Iâ€™ve had a lot of success. Iâ€™ve put a lot of effort into the city, and I really love it, but I was born and brought up in Hawaii. I go there at least a couple of times a year, and I still feel like a Hawaiian. You know, youâ€™re always happiest in your childhood home. My heart is there. Thatâ€™s where Iâ€™m comfortable.â€
â€œIf you let your character define your personality instead of keeping your true self separate, your character will get you.â€
â€œThe work means too much to me. You know, the construction of the performance, and the timing, and the way it looks, and the way it sounds, and all that stuff. I’m very serious about it…I would like to do something in this business that’s not necessarily what I do. I’d like to create a little character, you know, that will change people’s lives, or give them something that they have lost, or have never seen.â€
â€œYou know, I like people to make me laugh. Itâ€™s the only way to survive. The whole thing, after all, is one big joke. So, whatever anyone wants to think about me is fine. Thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m here for, thatâ€™s my role. I can be an object of love, hate, it doesnâ€™t matter. As long as I like myself.â€
â€œI think that people should never stop working no matter how old they are. I think there should be no such thing as retirement. Retirement is the pathway to an early grave. When you lose your work and what interests you, you lose your will to live, and Iâ€™m not that kind of person.â€
Midler on her husband Martin and daughter, Sophie:“Raising my daughter was my greatest accomplishment. I didn’t do it by myself. My husband is probably the greatest father who ever lived. He’s fantastic. He picked up the slack when I was on the road. He taught her a foreign language. He taught her to cook.” (People, 11/02/2014)
Midler on the secrets to a successful marriage: “I think the secret is giving each other a lot of lead and a lot of room and not being in each other’s faces all the time.” (People, 11/02/2014)
Midler on a successful marriage: “It’s best to pick your fights wisely and just meditate. Stay calm. Don’t go from zero to 60 in two seconds. Just stay calm and try to breathe. Breathing is really important.” (People, 11/02/2014)
Midler on a successful marriage: “Don’t diminish each other. Don’t make each other less. Don’t try to make each other wrong all the time. Don’t blame. Stop assigning blame. The blaming, I think, is the worst part. It’s so [easy to do], because you don’t want to carry the burden yourself. You want to push it onto someone else. But honestly, you have to learn not to do that.” (People, 11/02/2014)
(On her being honored by AIDS Project Los Angeles) “I did something. And I’m proud of myself that I didn’t run screaming for the hills like some people did. And fuck ’em, I say.” (1991, Movieline)
(On whether she’d rather sing or act) “Singing. No question. I’d much rather sing. I have to work on my singing. Singing is hard for me. Comedy is easy. Acting is really easy.” (1991, Movieline)
(On Sally Field) “She’s very smart. She’s doing exactly what she wants to do. It took her a minute to figure out how the business has changed, because it changed right out from under her, when nobody was looking. So that’s what we’re all in for. You can either jump in feet first and go to work or you can stand on the sidelines. Things have changed.” (1991, Movieline)
(On being a producer) “It doesn’t pay for me. There’s no money in it. No money. Not that I care about the money, but I do have a huge overhead and you mustn’t let your overhead own you. If it’s something you don’t believe in–well, I don’t want to be a line producer and I don’t want to be an executive producer if I don’t believe in the material. If it’s something that I do believe in or want to give a shot to, that’s another story. Then I’d be perfectly delighted. But to just produce to be a producer, feh. Big feh.” (1991, Movieline)
(On being a director) “To tell you the truth, I’m no dummy. Directing is just a bitch. And it’s years out of your life. And you are in a dark editing room a lot of it. You’d better like that person you are in there with because you’re there, you’re locked. It’s a lot like making records. Sometimes it gets so claustrophobic in those little dark rooms, it’s hard. And I don’t want to do that much work. I don’t want to work that hard for no money. I would rather work a little and make a lot of money than work like a dog and make nothing.” (1991, Movieline)
(On what she does with her money) “Not a goddamn thing. I don’t do anything with it. I give a lot of it away. I like charity. I like gardens. And travel. My husband says my life is wasted on me. He said no one should have as much good fortune as me and not have any idea what to do with it. I don’t pay any attention to it.” (1991, Movieline)
(On The Divine Miss M character) “She’s just a character. I didn’t bury her. I love that character. That’s the only character that I ever made up by myself. I made her up out of whole cloth. I was in New York, I saw these people, I looked at these movies, I said, “This is what I want to be.” And that’s what I became. That’s what I made up. But then I didn’t want to get stuck in it, like how John Belushi did with his character. I didn’t want that character to run my life. I wanted to be able to go away somewhere and be quiet, be by myself and have a life. I really did want that more than anything. I never exactly put it in those words, but I really wanted to be who I always was. I mean, I didn’t think that anybody would buy what I had to say when I was just myself, because really I’m kind of a bore. But that character, there was nothing boring about her. She was lively, she had red hair, she swore, she wore dresses cut down to there, everybody loves that. Who wouldn’t want to be that? But that wasn’t what I was. I was never that. Not for a second. But I put it out and people were charmed by it.” (1991, Movieline)
(On dyeing your eyelashes) “I do. I like to dye my eyelashes. But I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have someone to do it for you. They sell those kits in England, you know? They don’t sell them here. I think it’s really dangerous because you could go blind. They also sell leg waxing kits, which I think is a horrible thing to do to yourself. Ever have that done? Hurts like a motherfucker.” (1991, Movieline)
(On Woody Allen and maybe starring in one of his films) “Well, you know, he never calls, he never writes … I dropped a few hints, but I don’t know. I thought he liked me. I thought he enjoyed it. [Woody’s agent] Sam Cohn called me and said he thought Scenes From a Mall was the best thing he’d ever seen me do and he was sure it would be a big hit, and he sounded genuine. He had no reason to lie. He thought we were fabulous together. And I thought, “Golly, I hope I get to do it again.”‘ (1991, Movieline)
(On how difficult it is to get good movie material) “Two words: Im Possible. Very, very hard. A struggle of life and death. A bore. Especially soul destroying. Wearying beyond belief. I mean, we leave no stone unturned. And yet even when you come up with something you believe in, it’s so hard to convince people that it’s worthwhile, that it’s worth making. Even though they think, hey, she’s good, she’s got a string of hits behind her, she knows what she’s doing– they don’t have any faith, they don’t want to take that chance.” (1991, Movieline)
(On Mark Rydell calling her obsessive and compulsive about making things better) “He called me obsessive and compulsive? I’m not obsessive or compulsive. Well, I do like to make things better. I don’t like garbage. And there’s so much junk. And all the standards keep getting lower and lower. Finally people won’t recognize anything beautiful when they see it, because they won’t even know what it is.” (1991, Movieline)
(On working with two funny women– Lily Tomlin in Big Business and Shelley Long in Outrageous Fortune.) “Well, Lily is really a perfectionist. I kept saying, “Lily, this is the Midler School of Mugging, you just have to mug your way through this. Lil, it’s very light, look, I’m singing with a cow! How deadly can it be?” But she just wouldn’t buy it. I couldn’t talk her into it. She really struggled with that material, she was so determined to get her message across. Her heart was in the right place, she wanted to make it better. But sometimes people don’t have any patience for better, they just want to get it done. That picture typifies that, believe it or not.
I didn’t really get along very well with her. I was pregnant at the time. It was very hot, I was fainting, it was just unpleasant. She lets a lot of things get in her way. But I can’t fault her performance; she’s a wonderful actress.” (1991, Movieline)
(On why she won’t talk about Madonna) “I can’t talk about Madonna. I have nothing to say about Madonna. I have no opinion about Madonna. I certainly couldn’t put her in the vast cosmic picture. Because I don’t want to get in the middle of that. I can’t say anything without sounding like a jerk. You can’t talk the truth, and I don’t want to lie. My views are my own, I don’t want to slander the girl. She works hard. It’s nobody’s business what I think of Madonna. I have no feelings about her one way or another.” (1991, Movieline)
(Has Martin ever shocked you) “I was shocked when I saw tapes of his performances. I was pretty stunned. But in real life, now, he’s at film school, at AFI, directing.” (1991, Movieline)
(When you were growing up, did you ever steal anything?) “I had no money. I had absolutely nothing. I got a quarter a week for allowance. What are you going to do with a quarter a week? So, my girlfriend said, “This is what I do.” So I said I’d do it with her. But I didn’t really like it. It was too terrifying. It hurt my nerves. I stopped, and I’ve never stolen anything since. I would never, ever think of it. After my girlfriend and I took this makeup–lipsticks and hair dye–from the mall, we were on our way home with our little bags. It was pouring rain, we were in the middle of a hurricane, and my girlfriend and I got down on our knees and said, “God, if you don’t kill us in this hurricane we swear we will never do this again.” We didn’t die, and we never did it again. I keep my vows.” (1991, Movieline)
(On For The Boys):Â â€œI just have my fingers crossed. I do hope this attracts more than one kind of audience. I hope I get them in out of curiosity, because I know theyâ€™ll leave feeling more than satisfied. In fact, I think theyâ€™ll be thrilled.â€ (1991)
â€œThe biggest misconception people have about me is that Iâ€™m seven feet tall!â€ (1991)
â€œIâ€™m pretty much what you see on stage. People know that I read, that Iâ€™m interested in the world, in the environment, in human emotion. All my work is pretty revelatory. I donâ€™t hide a lot when I work on stage and I think thatâ€™s one of the reasons people are interested
in me.Â And I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve changed. I really feel Iâ€™m the same person who got off that bus in New York in 1965.â€ (1991)
â€œWe donâ€™t care about our children at all.Â We let them run around with no discipline. We let them park their carcasses in front of the television. We donâ€™t teach them to read.Â Well thatâ€™s not what I want for my child. I want her to have a real childhood, with real cookies in the oven, corny as that may sound.Â I want her to love nature and breathe fresh air. I donâ€™t want her to see hundreds of thousands of people die on her television set before sheâ€™s 20.Â AND she doesnâ€™t wear tart clothes. I have such a resentment of mothers dressing up their children to look like little versions of themselves. It’s totally insane. Canâ€™t they wait for a while before putting the spandex and the lycra on these kids. These arenâ€™t children. Theyâ€™re little grown-ups. Donâ€™t these parents LIKE kids?â€ (1991)
(On For The Boys): â€œI think itâ€™s an entertainment. It encompasses everything. Itâ€™s got laughter, tears, and a very strong idea at the heart of it. Itâ€™s got music, dance and sweep. Iâ€™m very proud of it.â€ (1991)
(On finding good original material for movies): â€œPeople these days cannot write from scratch. They can adapt a novel or a play. They can even create something from a newspaper clipping. But when it comes to sitting down with no previous source material and saying these are the characters, letâ€™s find a home for them â€” well they canâ€™t do it.â€ (1991)
(On For The Boys):Â “I loved the music, so I felt the movie had a shot I felt strongly, too, about the idea of raising a child you’re absolutely crazy about, and to lose that child to a war you don’t understand as I do with my son in the film And I believed in the two characters (hers and Caan’s) ” (1991)
(Playing an 80 year old in For The Boys frightened Bette): Â “Iâ€™d never done it like Dustin Hoffman did in â€˜Little Big Manâ€™ and Keir Dullea in â€˜2001â€™ So I spent some days at an old-age home, but I found that the makeup was a tremendous help â€ From the personal standpoint, she said, seeing herself wrinkled, puffy and liver-spotted, was â€œdepressing â€ (1991)
On Experience The Divine Tour: “I haven’t been in the Bette Midler business for the past 10 years: I’ve been in the Touchstone film business, pretty much.” Midler’s contract with Disney’s Touchstone has two pictures to go. “They have their ideas. I’ve been good, I’ve done good work, I’ve had a lot of fun with them, but I’m looking forward to doing my own thing.” (1991, Washington Post)
On Experience The Divine Tour: The tour is called “Experience the Divine” but, snaps Midler, “it’ll probably be called `Experience the Profane’ by the time we get out there.”
Bette Midler Correcting The Sound Person At The Outer Critics Circle Awards: “. “You don’t mind, do you? It’s so people at the back can hear these pearls of wisdom that are going to be falling from my lips.” (Playbill, MAY 27, 2017)
Bette Midler Accepting Her Outer Critics Circle Award: “Thank you to the Outer Critics Circle, you magnificent people,” she gushed. “You’re so humane, telling us who’s getting the award in advance so we don’t have to get dressed and show up, only to lose. This is so nice. And you held the event right across the street from the Shubert Theatre where I’m holding forth every night. Nearly every night—let’s not go there. It’s my kind of ceremony.” (Playbill, MAY 27, 2017)
Bette Midler Accepting Her Outer Critics Circle Award: “Oh, boy! This is the hardest job I’ve ever had in my whole life—not just accepting the award but this is for a few people on Broadway. You people are nuts! I’ve never encountered people who worked so hard and are still kinda cheerful about it. I mean, I’m whining all the way to the bank. I’ve never had to work this hard. It hurts. I have acid reflux. Oh, my God! The clothes are so tight. Thank you, Santo.” (Playbill, MAY 27, 2017)
Bette Midler Accepting Her Outer Critics Circle Award: “I want to give a shout out to Jerry Zaks, our director, our choreographer, Warren Carlyle, who is absolutely brilliant. He loves everything I do. He thinks everything I do is genius. ‘Keep it in! Keep it in!’ It’s a very florid performance. I want to thank all the sensational designers involved–even Santo Loquasto, who trussed me up like a Christmas goose. I want to thank Natasha Katz for making me look half my age and Scott Lehrer for his beautiful sound design and, of course, our producer, the mastermind, Scott Rudin, who eventually got me to say yes after many, many, many, many, many months of saying ‘Noooooooo.’” She dropped to a lower register. “‘Noooooooo, thank you.’” (Playbill, MAY 27, 2017)
Bette Midler Accepting Her Outer Critics Circle Award: “But you know what? Once I jumped into the pool, it was pretty good. I was surprised how much fun I had, especially during the rehearsals. I thought the rehearsals were absolutely top-drawer. I loved it. I looked forward to getting up in the morning and going to meet the kids and learning the steps and standing in the rehearsal room with Andy Einhorn, who is our musical director, without whom I could not have survived. And Larry Hochman did fantastic orchestrations. It’s been a steep learning curve. I’m not too nervous in front of you. I don’t know why. I guess it’s because you’re already reviewed the show so I don’t give a shit.” (Playbill, MAY 27, 2017)
Bette Midler Accepting Her Drama League Award For Distinguished Musical Career On The Stage: “I’ll add it to my mantelpiece, even though it doesn’t help me spell ‘EGOT,’” she said of the statuette, and then singled out Sally Field in the crowd. “I turn and look at Sally because she has my Oscar,” she joked, and then addressed Glenn Close, also attending. “Glenn, did you ever win? F—, you’re in worse shape than me!” (Drama League Awards, 2017)
Bette Midler Accepting Her 2017 Tony For Best Actress: “I hope I don’t cry,” Midler said, before proceeding to give a sharp-witted speech toward the end of the 71st Annual Tony Awards in New York Sunday night. “This has been one of the greatest professional experiences of my entire life… I’m so grateful for the outpouring of love, it has been absolutely extraordinary. That said, I can’t remember the last time I had more smoke blown up my ass, but there’s no more room. This is the cherry on the cake…This has given me the ride of my life.” (Tony Awards, 2017)
Bette Midler Accepting Her 2017 Tony For Best Actress As The Music Tried To Play Her Off The Stage: “Shut that crap off!” (2017)
Bette Midler Accepting Her 2017 Tony For Best Actress: “Revival is an interesting word,” she continued about the show, which also won for Best Revival of a Musical. “It means something was near death and has been brought back to life. ‘Hello Dolly!’ never really went away…this thing has the ability to lift your spirits in these terrible, terrible times.” (2017)
Sophie on her mom’s Tony acceptance speech: “First of all, I just love that she turned the entire thing into a bit,” said von Haselberg. “Everybody was sitting there, and all of a sudden she’s saying, ‘Cut that- turn that shit off!’ I think that she took the space in a way that, to me, not a lot of other people are capable of doing. And I just loved watching it. My dad and I were sitting there, half-cringing, half-grinning because it was just so classically her. It was great—and I’m just happy it made such an impression.” (2017)