Join us Saturday June 24th for our popular docuementary film night featuring Bette Midler.
Your ticket price (purchased at the door) of $11 included introductory lecture, film and popcorn. A cash bar will also be available.
GARY, IN – The outrageous fortune of a legendary superstar will be explored, not from a distance, but up-close-and-personal, when “The Divine Bette Midler” screens Saturday, June 24 at 7:00 p.m. at the Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts in the Miller Beach section of Gary.
Sponsored by the Miller Beach Arts & Creative District, the PBS documentary will be introduced by Larry Lapidus, a member of the Board of Directors of the Miller Beach Arts & Creative District as well as for the Near North Chapter of Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he procures speakers and singers for fundraising events, as well as being a volunteer lecturer for community outreach.
A Hawaiian native, the in-depth study takes Midler from the days when she was down and out in Honolulu to her first Broadway show (“Fiddler on the Roof”), to her early performances in a gay bathhouse in New York (Barry Manilow was her piano accompanist), all the way to fame and fortune in the theater, recording, and film industries.
“Midler’s wide taste in different genres of music mimics her versatility as an artist,” Lapidus said. “She was never a one-note performer in any way, shape, or form. She preferred to be considered an artist of many talents over many landscapes.”
Indeed, Midler’s hit records include everything from updated swing (“Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”) to piercing ballads (“The Rose”) to pop and rock (“Beast of Burden,” “Pink Cadillac”). She’s covered everyone from Rosemary Clooney to Bruce Springsteen; and released duets with everyone from Tom Waites to Mick Jagger. In her nearly half-century career she’s won three Grammy Awards, three Emmy Awards, four Golden Globes, and two Tony Awards – the latest for her current run on Broadway in “Hello, Dolly!”
In 1979, her film debut as a self-destructive Janis Joplin-like rock star in “The Rose” garnered her the first of two Best Actress Oscar nominations and kicked off a late-blooming, but hugely lucrative movie career.
“I don’t think that decision (to take so long before jumping into the film industry) belonged to her,” Lapidus said. “Hollywood had very specific ideas about who would be a bankable star. Her looks didn’t conform to that dynamic; she had an over-the-top personality – that didn’t help either. I think she frightened casting people. Very few thought Bette was beautiful, but finally most everyone recognized her tremendous talent.”
Surprisingly, it was the Walt Disney Studios who nabbed the bawdy, outspoken entertainer, signing her to a multi-picture deal in 1985 that resulted in her becoming their top star throughout the rest of that decade. Her hits for the studio included “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” “Ruthless People,” “Outrageous Fortune,” “Big Business,” “Oliver & Company,” “Hocus Pocus,” and the classic tearjerker “Beaches.”
Lapidus said he didn’t think Disney’s interest was all that shocking. “They like to make money,” he explained. “They sniffed this out and realized she might be a good bet. Even though Disney’s name had been synonymous with family-oriented films, they were smart and knew where to move next.”
After sold-out live performances around the world, a residency at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, her own television sitcom, authorship of several books, and boundless environmental charity work, Midler is still a force to be reckoned with.
“Her long-term success is a result of her amazing talent and personality,” Lapidus said. “She appeals to so many types of folks and so many age ranges. She’s always found new ways to highlight her ability to entertain. Her versatility as a movie actress goes from despair and sadness to outlandish comedy. She gives it all, all the time. It’s hard not to fall in love with Bette Midler.”
Audiences can be put under the artist’s spell when “The Divine Bette Midler” screens Saturday, June 24 at 7:00 p.m. at the Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts, 540 S. Lake St., Gary, IN. An $11 donation includes admission to the screening, soft drinks, popcorn, and the introduction by Larry Lapidus. There will be a cash bar.