On Bette Midler: An Opinionated Guide (Hardcover)

On Bette Midler: An Opinionated Guide By Kevin Winkler Cover Image
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Bette Midler today is a beloved legacy star, best known for her comic witch in Disney's Hocus Pocus (1993) and its 2022 sequel. She has also gained prominence for sentimental, anthemic ballads like "Wind Beneath My Wings," her initiation of green space projects in New York City, and tussling with Donald Trump on Twitter. Her profile is that of an articulate, civic-minded matriarch enjoying thoroughly mainstream stardom. But more than fifty years earlier she emerged from the steam of the subterranean Continental Baths as the Divine Miss M, the bawdy, campy, fearless alter ego she created in front of an audience of towel-clad gay men who came to the baths seeking not just sex, but a sense of community and safety from an often-harrowing outside world. "I was able to take chances on that stage that I could not have taken anywhere else," she later wrote. "Ironically, I was freed from fear by people who, at the time, were ruled by fear. And for that I will always be grateful." Overnight, Bette Midler became a much-loved icon of the gay community.

The Divine Miss M coalesced gay, Jewish, feminist, and show business sensibilities into an outrageously funny and emotionally compelling persona that travelled with surprising ease from the cultural margins to the entertainment mainstream. Her embrace by mom-and-pop audiences, rock fans and critics, and the guardians of middle-of-the-road show business demonstrates just how deeply the tastes and sensibilities of her original audience have been absorbed into popular culture. On Bette Midler: An Opinionated Guide traces the early development of Midler's performing ethos from New York's downtown experimental theater scene and examines her impact across media, with chapters on the soaring highs (and occasional cringe-worthy lows) of her stage work, movies, recordings, and television appearances, and considers her influence as an environmental activist and social media presence.

On Bette Midler features performance analysis and deeply researched background information, all of it supporting informed--and divinely opinionated--consideration of Midler the artist. It judges her work by the highest standards: those she established for herself.

About the Author

Kevin Winkler enjoyed a career of more than twenty years as a curator, archivist, and administrator at the New York Public Library, prior to which he was a professional dancer. His books include Everything is Choreography: The Musical Theatre of Tommy Tune (2021) and Big Deal: Bob Fosse and Dance in the American Musical (2018), which won the Theatre Library Association's George Freedley Memorial Award, Special Jury Prize, was a finalist for the Marfield Prize from the Arts Club of Washington, D.C., and was cited as an ALA/ACRL CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title. He is an on-screen commentator for the acclaimed documentary Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon (2019).
Product Details
ISBN: 9780197668320
ISBN-10: 0197668321
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: May 21st, 2024
Pages: 232
Language: English