As host Willie Geist described Bette Midler on the December 4 episode of The Today Show, the actor and singer has been “putting together a career that places her in the class of stars who can be identified only by a single name.”
Midler sat down with Geist for an in-depth interview about her sustained career, beginning with the Continental Baths circa 1972 and her impending return to Broadway as Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly!
Of that first gig in the baths, Midler says she loved playing there. “They loved me, and that means a lot to a person for an audience to totally understand what it is you’re trying to do—you never forget those people.”
The re-mastered version of her solo album, The Divine Miss M, is currently available. Midler claims, “It’s some of my best work because it’s the work that I worked on the longest.”
Despite her successes, she says that the album catalogues her struggles and the roadblocks she overcame to get to where she is today.
“I call myself an entertainer,” she said. “I have never called myself an artist. People are supposed to call you that. You’re not supposed to call yourself that, so I’m gratified when people call me an artist.”
Her artistry has been on full view during a storied recording, stage, and film career. Midler’s favorite movie of her own? “Hocus Pocus,” she declared without pause. “I have to say, I’m flawless in that movie.”
Now she’s preparing to play Dolly in a show that is already setting Broadway records. “I’m excited, I’m unnerved, I’m utterly game,” she said. “What I’m not prepared for is the size of the stage. I tell you I’ve been a solo act for 40 years.” Something tells us she’ll be looking swell.
Watch interview extras below:
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