Tony Clip 5: Bette Midler in Fiddler on the Roof (1968)

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Bette Midler may seem to have emerged fully formed from the mists of the Continental Baths in the early 1970s, but the sassy singer-actor in fact paid her dues for years before that on the New York stage. Her first professional gig was in a 1965 play by Tom Eyen, after which she replaced future casting diva Joanna Merlin as Tzeitel in the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof. In this sequence from the 1968 Tony Awards telecast, she dutifully executes business with brooms and a rag while biding her time for more glamorous things.


Bonus material in this clip are two other performances from musicals that were on the boards in 1968. First, the late Jill Haworth, Cabaret's original Sally Bowles, yaps out a version of the title tune that reminds us that, notwithstanding Liza Minnelli's spectacular performance in the film version, Sally is not supposed to be that great a singer. (Note that she also seems to drop her first few words.) The medley ends on a rich note with a very fine rendition of "The Impossible Dream" by classical baritone David Atkinson, who by then had replaced Richard Kiley in Man of la Mancha.—Adam Feldman


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