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From ‘Beaches’ to ‘Hocus Pocus’: 15 Unforgettable Bette Midler Movies

Plus, updates on her new movies 'Sitting in Bars With Cake' and 'Hocus Pocus 3'!

At 77-years-young, Bette Midler is still doing what she loves most: entertaining. With four Golden Globe Awards, three Grammy Awards, three Primetime Emmy Awards, and two Tony Awards, in addition to nominations for two Academy Awards — not to mention multiplatinum albums and several books — “The Divine Miss M” has spent the past 58 years doing just that. And Bette Midler movies have long been some of our laugh-out-loud or cry-out-loud favorites.

We’re thrilled that Midler will soon be starring in Prime Video’s Sitting in Bars With Cake, which premiers on September 8, 2023. Inspired by true events, it brings the beloved blog and book by Audrey Shulman to life as it follows a quiet young woman Jane (Yara Shahidi) who is unlucky in love. One day she takes a cake she baked for her best friend’s birthday into a bar and finds herself swarmed by men. She’s convinced it’s a fluke, but her friend Corinne (Odessa A’zion) talks her into spending a year baking and then taking the cakes into bars — also known as “cakebarring” — in the hope that it will help her find true love and develop confidence. Midler plays the sassy Benita, Corrine’s boss.

Are you excited for Sitting in Bars With Cake? The anticipation for Midler’s newest heartfelt movie inspired us to take a walk down memory lane. Keep reading to learn more about Bette Midler’s life and see some of our favorite Bette Midler movies.

Bette Midler young

Before she made her way to the stage and screen, Bette Midler grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she and her family lived a modest life. Named after the actress Bette Davis, Midler attended Radford High School in Honolulu, where she was voted “Most Talkative” and “Most Dramatic” in her senior year, graduating with the class of 1963. 

Majoring in drama at the University of Hawaii, Midler left after three semesters. With an uncredited role as a seasick passenger in the 1966 film Hawaii, Bette made enough money to relocate to New York City to study theater under the famed Uta Hagen. The rest, as they say, is history.

Her legacy began in several off-Broadway plays, prior to her Broadway work in Fiddler on the Roof and Salvation in the late 1960s. Then in the summer of 1970, Midler began singing at the Continental Baths and became close to her piano accompanist, Barry Manilow, who went on to produce her first album in 1972, The Divine Miss M

Barry Manilo and Bette Midler
Barry Manilow performs with Bette Midler on The Tonight Show, 1973NBC/Getty

Since then, she’s released an additional 13 studio albums.  When asked if there were any songs that she regrets, the Emmy-winner recognized that in everyone’s career, there are going to be “some stinkers.”  In her eyes, one of those was her song “Married Men,” she told Parade.

On the other hand, she reflected on one of her biggest hits, “Wind Beneath My Wings,” calling the song “human.” Originally a country song, Midler was hesitant about singing it because she thought it too sentimental, until one of her friends told her, “If you don’t sing this song, I’ll never speak to you again.” She told Parade, “As the years have gone by, I revised my opinion because I could see how moving it was.” 

Midler’s first starring film role came with the musical drama The Rose in 1979, which won her the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical. And since, she’s been brining down the house with film after film.

Who is Bette Midler’s husband?

Midler is sentimental when it comes to her decades long marriage to Martin von Haselberg, whom she married in a Vegas Elvis chapel in 1984. The two have one daughter, Sophie von Haselberg, who is following in her mom’s acting and producing footsteps. 

Bette revealed on Jimmy Kimmel Live that up until a few years ago, she had no photos of her and her husband’s special day.  “There were no cellphones in 1984, so we had no pictures.”  She was ecstatic when a few years ago, out of the blue, an employee who had worked at the chapel sent her photos from her big moment. 

Bette and Martin
Bette with husband Martin von Haselberg, 2022Dia Dipasupil/Getty

The “Wind Beneath My Wings” singer told Good Morning Britain, “He really is the wind beneath my wings; he has looked after me for many, many years; he’s sacrificed a lot. I am proud of my marriage and our relationship because it is the oldest marriage in Hollywood.” 

Bette Midler Movies

Let’s take a look at Midler’s catalog over the decades:

The Rose (1979)

Alan Bates,  Bette Midler, 'The Rose', 1979
Alan Bates with Bette Midler, The Rose, 1979Moviestore/Shutterstock

Midler’s first starring film role was as a drug-addicted rock star modeled after the late Janis Joplin in the 1960s-era rock-and-roll tragedy The Rose. The film earned her an Oscar nomination and she won the Golden Globe for Best Actress. 

Divine Madness (1980)

Bette Midler, 'Divine Madness', 1980

In 1980, Bette Midler’s concert film Divine Madness showcased her comedy routines and musical performances.

Jinxed! (1982)

Bette Midler, 'Jinxed!', 1982

Although not a box office success, Midler’s Jinxed! put her on the screen as a Vegas lounge singer alongside Ken Wahl and Rip Torn.

Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986)

Bette Midler, 'Down and Out In Beverly Hills', 1986

After signing a multi-picture deal with Walt Disney Studios, she starred in — and produced — a string of successful films. Down and Out in Beverly Hills was the beginning of her comedic career.   

Ruthless People (1986)

Bette Midler, 'Ruthless People', 1986

Ruthless People, in which she co-starred with Danny DeVito and Judge Reinhold, soon followed the same year.    

Outrageous Fortune (1987)

Bette Midler, Shelley Long, Outrageous Fortune, 1987
Bette Midler with Shelley Long, Outrageous Fortune, 1987 Mgm/Kobal/Shutterstock

Continuing with her successful comedic turn, Midler starred in Outrageous Fortune.

Beaches (1988)

Bette Midler, 'Beaches', 1988

Midler had a big hit with Beaches, co-starring Barbara Hershey. The accompanying soundtrack remains Midler’s all-time biggest selling disc, featuring her biggest hit, “Wind Beneath My Wings.” The film chronicles a gut-wrenching but beautiful female friendship, and is the perfect movie for when you’re in the mood for a cry. It is still known today as one of the most quintessential Bette Midler movies.

Stella (1990)

Bette Midler, Trini Alvarado, 'Stella', 1990
Bette Midler with Trini Alvarado, Stella, 1990Snap/Shutterstock

Stella was the third feature film adaptation of the 1920 novel. Midler portrayed a boorish single mom living in Watertown, New York, determined to give her daughter all the opportunities she never had. 

Scenes From A Mall (1991)

Woody Allen, Bette Midler, 'Scenes From a Mall', 1991
Woody Allen with Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall, 1991Touchstone/Kobal/Shutterstock

Scenes From A Mall had Midler co-starring with Woody Allen. The movie received a mixed reception.

For The Boys (1991)

James Caan, Bette Midler, 'For The Boys', 
James Caan with Bette Midler, For The Boys, 1991

For The Boys gave Midler a much warmer reception and she received rave reviews for her portrayal of a 1940s singer and actress who entertains American troops. For this Bette Midler movie, she received her second Golden Globe and her second Oscar nomination.

Hocus Pocus (1993)

Bette Midler, 'Hocus Pocus', 1993

Hocus Pocus paired Midler with Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy in what has now become a Halloween comedy classic. Midler played the lead role of Winifred “Winnie” Sanderson, the head witch and eldest of the fictional Sanderson Sisters, who were hanged during the Salem Witch Trials. It chronicles the accidental awakening of the sisters, three centuries after they were executed. They are awakened to wreak havoc on modern-day Salem, Massachusetts. 

The First Wives Club (1996)

Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Bette Midler, 'The First Wives Club', 1996
Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Bette Midler, The First Wives Club, 1996 Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

The First Wives Club had Midler playing along with Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn. Laughter ensued but also brought out the power women have. She received the Women in Film Crystal Award which honors outstanding women in the entertainment industry. 

Drowning Mona (2000)

William Fichtner, Bette Midler, Marcus Thomas, 'Drowning Mona', 1999
William Fichtner, Bette Midler and Marcus Thomas, Drowning Mona, 1999Peter Sorel/Destination/Kobal/Shutterstock

Drowning Mona was a dark comedy co-starring Danny DeVito and Jamie Lee Curtis.  Midler played the title character, a loud-mouthed, mean and generally disliked woman.

The Stepford Wives (2004)

Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler, 'The Stepford Wives', 2004
Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler, The Stepford Wives, 2004Andrew Schwartz/Paramount/Dreamworks/Kobal/Shutterstock

The Stepford Wives was a Bette Midler movie where she appeared in a supporting role. This is a remake of the 1975 film starring Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick. Midler played a writer and recovering alcoholic. 

Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)

Bette Midler, 'Hocus Pocus 2' film premiere, 2022
Bette Midler, Hocus Pocus 2 film premiere, 2022Gregory Pace/Shutterstock

In Hocus Pocus 2, Midler reprised her role as Winifred Sanderson. 

Bette Midler movies to expect next

Besides the premiere of Sitting in Bars With Cake, Midler is going to be reprising her role as Winifred in Hocus Pocus 3 and the Christmas movie A Childhood History Plan with Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton (both due out in 2024).

Midler has also been focused on her charitable work after receiving the Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in the performing arts in 2021. “A person’s life is a journey, a road. Sometimes you go off the road and sometimes you stay on all the way through,” she said in an interview with Oprah. “But you are the only one on that road.  It’s your road.” 

Touching upon her own legacy, Midler told Parade, “I did the best I could to give people joy. And I had a lot of fun along the way.” From troubled rockstar to wicked witch, Bette Midler movies have given us cinematic joy for decades — and we can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next!

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Bonnie Siegler is an established international writer covering the celebrity circuit for more than 15 years.  Bonnie’s resume includes two books that combine her knowledge of entertaining with celebrity health and fitness and has written travel stories which focus on sustainable living.  She has contributed to magazines including Woman’s World and First for WomenElle, InStyle, Shape, TV Guide and Viva.  Bonnie served as West Coast Entertainment Director for Rive Gauche Media overseeing the planning and development of print and digital content.  She has also appeared on entertainment news shows Extra and Inside Edition.

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