Bette Midler has returned to the Broadway stage this month as real-life Hollywood agent Sue Mengers in I’ll Eat You Last, the first time Midler has appeared on Broadway since her concert show Bette! Divine Madness ended its limited run in January 1980. In the meantime, you could say she’s been quite busy, right? Midler is one of the few performers who have really transcended entertainment labels as she approaches her fifth decade in show business.
In an interview with NPR, Midler reveals what she thinks is the secret behind her lengthy career.
Midler says that her staying power is mostly because she has always pursued her own projects. She explains, “I think that the main thing that I have going for me that a lot of people never got the memo on, is that I did my own work. I made my own work, I made my own shows, I put them together in a way that made people want to see them. And I wasn’t dependent on other people calling and saying, ‘We want you for this.’ And I mean, I think in the real world there, once you get to a certain age, it starts to shrink, you know. The number of roles starts to shrink.”
Another point she makes is that she has made sure that she always remains in the public eye enough to not be forgotten, adding, “And I’ve always been able to go out and do my own work. … Make my own records, do my own concerts. And I think that that’s what saved me, because being in the public eye — love the public, but gotta say — you know it’s not these indelible events in their lives. They fade over time, and so if you don’t come back and refresh their memories … they move on, you know? And so I’ve always been able to go back to them to say, ‘Remember me? Hi! I’m back! Nice to see you! Gee, you got so tall!’ So that’s been my saving grace.”