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Bette Midler

(1945 - )

Bette Davis Midler is a Jewish American singer-songwriter, actress, comedian, film producer and entrepreneur.

Also known as The Divine Miss M, Midler was born on December 1, 1945 in Honolulu, Hawaii. She majored in drama at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She made her first film appearance, in 1966, as an extra in the film Hawaii. Following graduation, Midler moved to New York City to pursue acting on stage. She obtained her first onstage role in Miss Nefertiti Regrets. From 1966 to 1969 she played the role of Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway.

In 1970, Midler began singing at the Turkish Continental Baths, a gay bathhouse in New York; while performing there, Midler became close to her piano accompanist, Barry Manilow. In 1973, Manilow produced Midler’s first major album, The Divine Miss M. The following year, she released a second album, "Bette Midler." In 1974, she received a Special Tony Award for her contribution to Broadway for the “Claims on the Half Shell Review” at the Palace Theatre. She was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, for her title role of Janis Joplin, in The Rose.

By the 1980s, Midler had established herself as a successful comedic actress. In 1986, she was cast by Paul Mazursky in Down and Out in Beverly Hills. Then in 1988, she starred in the film drama Beaches. That same year, she contributed her voice to the animated character Georgette, in Disney’s Oliver & Company.

Midler has won four Grammy Awards including the 1973 Best New Artist and the 1989 prestigious Record of the Year for the #1 hit “Wind Beneath My Wings.” She also won a Grammy for her rendition of the 1990 “From a Distance.” On June 22, 2004, when the American Film Institute announced “The 100 years of the Greatest Songs,” two of her hits were selected: “Wind Beneath My Wings” (#44) and “The Rose” (#83).

In 1992, Midler won an Emmy Award for her performance on the final episode of The Tonight Show. From 2000-2001, she had her own short-lived CBS sitcom Bette.

Midler has won a total of four Grammy Awards, four Golden Globes, one Tony Award, and three Emmy Awards. Furthermore, she has sold over 15 million albums worldwide.

In 1995, Midler founded the New York Restoration Project, an organization dedicated to revitalizing neglected neighborhood parks in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of New York City.

Sources: "Bette Midler (1945 - )." American Jewish Historical Society, American Jewish Desk Reference, (NY: Random House, 1999). pg. 471, Wikipedia, Internet Movie Database