You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

Bette Midler

December 1, 2017

Singer, songwriter, actress Bette Midler was born in Honolulu on this date in 1945. Her mother was a seamstress and her father a house painter. From 1966 to 1969, Midler appeared on Broadway as Tevye’s eldest daughter, Tsaytl, in Fiddler on the Roof, shortly before developing her persona as “the Divine Miss M” at the Continental Baths, a gay men’s gathering place in New York. Gay men have remained a significant fan base for Midler, and she has responded with outspoken support of gay rights. Midler is also the founder of the New York Restoration Project, which restores under-resourced parks and develops and protects community gardens in New York City, and she has partnered on a tree-planting campaign, “MillionTreesNY,” with the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Midler is an advocate of marijuana legalization and has been named by Canada’s Skunk magazine as one of “The top 100 Women of Weed.” She recently blasted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for her plan to roll back protections for sexual assault victims on campus, saying this was “just in case her boss ever wants to visit a campus.” Midler has won three Grammy Awards, three Emmys, two Tonys, and four Golden Globes while selling over 30 million records.

“If you want something done, you’d better do it yourself — or ask another woman to do it.” —Bette Midler