When Brilliant Met Divine: A Healthy Conversation with Bette Midler

She sings. She dances. She acts. She jokes. She cleans up decrepit, crumbling urban properties. She wins awards for all those things. And she also, simply, talks.

In a bit of a departure from her standard high-production fare, on April 29, Bette Midler, the aptly monikered Divine Miss M, addresses the equal-parts anticipatory/participatory audience of the Brilliant Lecture Series.

"I'm happy to be doing this event. I've been doing them for a couple of years now, I kind of enjoy them," Bette Midler remarked on her upcoming Q-and-A appearance with the series which this year has also welcomed luminaries Betty Buckley, Robert Duvall, and Diane Keaton. "I've been to Minneapolis, I went to Niagara Falls, I mean, I've been around.

"They are always different, you know," Midler continued in that inimitably vocal cadence, describing her lecture experience. "Sometimes I talk about women's health, sometimes I talk about my career, sometimes I talk about the New York Restoration Project," the organic architectural organization she's been working with for the last 20 years.

"I'm sure it's going to be a good crowd and is going to be full of interesting questions," Midler speculated. "I hope that some of them will be funny!"

Chances are, if the questions aren't funny in their presentation, Midler will twist a punch line out of them, nonetheless: For years, her signature mantra was "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke!"

Today, after spending nearly 50 years dominating the top rung of the show business ladder, Midler's softer, more introspective mantra is "Adapt or die."

When Midler chatted with us, health was on her mind, and she shared her take on how she maintains her divinity in both body and soul.

This story continues on the next page.

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Nancy Ford
Contact: Nancy Ford