Gloriously flamboyant American entertainer Bette Midler was born in Honolulu, HI, to the only Jewish family in the neighborhood. After dropping out of a drama class at the University of Hawaii, she took a tiny role in the 1966 film Hawaii, playing a seasick boat passenger (though it's hard to see her when viewing the film). Training for a dancing career in New York, Midler made the casting rounds for several months before finally winning a chorus role, and then the featured part of Tzeitel, in the long-running Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof.
It helps to do something well that no one else does, and Midler found her forte by singing at the Continental Baths, a gay hangout in New York. Most bath house performers were painfully bad, but Midler established herself by combining genuine talent with the tackiness expected of her. As the "Divine Miss M," Midler did an act consisting of campy (and dirty) specialty numbers; dead-on imitations of such earlier performers as the Andrews Sisters and Libby Holman; and the most outrageously revealing costumes this side of Bob Mackie. Soon she outgrew the bath houses and went on to nightclub and recording-artist fame, earning a Grammy Award in 1973. After several years of sell-out tours, Midler re-entered films as the star of The Rose, a 1979 film à clef loosely based upon the life and times of Janis Joplin. The film was a success, but it failed to establish Midler as a dramatic actress; audiences, particularly gay fans, still preferred the Divine Miss M.