This brassy, sassy broad has ruled over stage and screen for almost 40 years and is all kinds of right if you want a role model for young girls or just want to spend your time on someone who you think would make a great best friend. Not conventionally beautiful, Bette’s screen presence and sheer charisma put you on her side the second her characters appear.
The Rose (1979) - If you’ve been to karaoke night, you’ll at least know the song “The Rose” made famous by Bette in this drama of a fictional singer (who bears a striking parallel to one Janis Joplin) as it follows her down through her final tour. Watch it with: your teens or the girls. And for those who have only been subjected to the karaoke version, here’s Bette:
Go-go ‘80s Bette double feature: Ruthless People and Down & Out in Beverly Hills (1986)
These two comedies both feature Bette as a charismatic version of the woman we were supposed to aspire to be in the heart of the Me Decade: a fabulously wealthy but secretly unhappy lady who needs to be shaken out of her Rodeo Drive rut. Watch with: your tweens & teens (some racy stuff in both films) and enjoy how even the very rich looked completely ridiculous in their knee-length sweaters and Dynasty shoulder pads.
Butt-whooping Bette: Outrageous Fortune (1987) The female buddy action-comedy DID exist before Paul Fieg hit the scene, and this is one of the great, female-focused adventures. Odd Couple protagonists Shelley Long (we miss you!) and Bette Midler meet when they find out they have been sharing a boyfriend and things get pretty crazy after that. Watch with: teens or on ladies’ night. Features sexy stuff and some violence, which is mostly completely deserved and visited on the men in the story.
Three-hanky weeper Bette: Beaches (1988) The tale of lifelong friendship between two very different women should be required viewing with your bestie. Just stock up on the tissues and maybe don’t watch during PMS. Watch with: your BFF, your daughters. Prep by: chilling the eye mask in the fridge for after. For an alternative weeper, try Stella (1990). It’s a particularly good one if your daughter has been taking you for granted lately.
Family Bette: Hocus Pocus (1993): This witchy little tale has grown on us through the years since it was released, and it’s a fun Halloween tale for when the leaves start to change. Bette plays Winifred, one of the three Sanderson sisters who were once executed for witchcraft in Salem…but somehow, they’re back. It’s up to the kids in town to save everyone from their witchy claws. Watch with: kids.
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