Bette Midler was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on December 1st, 1945. Her ancestry is Jewish and Italian. She was named after Bette Davis, though Midler doesn’t pronounce the second “e” in her name like with Davis. She is the third of four children.
For college she attended the University of Hawaii where she majored in drama. To pursue acting, Midler dropped out of college before graduating. In 1966 she landed her first movie role in the film Hawaii. It wasn’t a major role as her part was simply as an extra, but it greatly encouraged her interest in becoming a professional actor. To that end, she moved to New York City to pursue roles on Broadway.
Her efforts were soon rewarded with a role in the legendary Broadway musical, Fiddler on the Roof. She played Tzeitel, the oldest daughter, which was a pretty significant role for someone just breaking into professional acting. While working on Fiddler on the Roof, Midler’s sister Judy was killed by a taxi while visiting her. Midler performed in Fiddler on the Roof until 1969.
In 1970 she got a gig in a gay bathhouse. There she met Barry Manilow. Manilow played the piano at the bathhouse and the two become good friends. Manilow produced her first album, The Divine Miss M, which was released in 1972. The album won rave revues and has since sold millions of copies. In 1973, The Divine Miss M garnered Midler a Grammy for Best New Artist.
Midler won a Tony Award in 1974 for her involvement in a Broadway play titled Clams on the Half Shell Revue. In 1978 she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her starring role in the movie, The Rose, in which she played a drug-addled rock star loosely based on Janis Joplin.
In 1989, Midler again achieved music success with her hit single “Wind Beneath My Wings” which earned her a Grammy for Record of the Year. She returned to music success again in 1989 with the song “From a Distance” which also was awarded a Grammy.
In 1992, Midler was awarded an Emmy for a performance on The Tonight Show hosted by Johnny Carson. Bette Midler is one of America’s most talented celebrities. She’s found success in film, theater, television, and music. Few popular artists can match her range of abilities. There aren’t many people who can say they’ve won a Tony, Grammy, and an Emmy.