Bette Midler returns to Philadelphia, where she has been taking the stage since the early ’70s thanks to longtime friend and local music impresario Larry Magid.
Cohost Bette Midler shares a moment with Jack Nicholson at the Live Aid benefit concert—one of the world’s largest—at Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium in July 1985.
When world-famous actress and singer Bette Midler returns to Philadelphia on June 16 in support of her latest album, the brassy It’s the Girls!, it won’t be just another show of the flashy songstress and her usual big-production highlights, like her wheelchair-riding mermaids and ladies in military uniform. When Midler hits the Wells Fargo Center, she’ll continue a close relationship with not just the city but also a local impresario that began in 1972. “I was amazed by the skill, energy, and the originality of her performance, every aspect of it,” says Larry Magid, the legendary Philly booking agent, international promoter, and Broadway producer who first welcomed Midler here in the early ’70s at now-nonexistent venues such as the Bijou Café and the Erlanger Theatre. The two became fast pals—even hanging out with each other’s spouses—and by 1999, Magid wound up producing entire national tours for Midler. “I guess she trusted me,” he says. By that point, the Divine Miss M was a sensation, a multi-platinum artist (with hits such as “Wind Beneath My Wings”) and a respected dramatic and comedic thespian with three Golden Globe awards and an Oscar nod for best actress for The Rose. But their trust went both ways: When Magid produced one of the planet’s largest concerts—the charitable American leg of Live Aid, soon celebrating its 30th anniversary, on July 13—at Philly’s JFK Stadium, he brought in Midler as one of its hosts. With a one-shoulder bustier and ’80s-ready teased mane, Midler took the stage to introduce then-breakout star Madonna. Later, she shared a brief moment with Jack Nicholson before Phil Collins performed. “Bette was a natural,” he says. “She’s one of the most influential artists of all time, to women and male performers alike. She deserved to be there—she’s a global superstar.” Tuesday, June 16, at the Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St., 215-336-3600
PHOTOGRAPHY BY RON GALELLA/WIREIMAGE