Bette Midler - April 4, 2014

We just can't get enough of our "Faces of the Tour" series, here at the American Treasure Tour, so we are going to return to that today with the Divine Miss M, better known as Bette Midler! Midler is, to put it mildly, a multi-talented performer.  She is a highly successful singer, stage performer, actor, producer, and comedian who has been nominated for Oscars, won Grammys, sold over thirty million records, and become an iconic figure in many counterculture circles. 

Midler was born in 1945 in the then-United States Territory of Hawaii.  She was voted "Most Talkative" in her high school, never finished college, then did something many people from the Northeastern United States might not be able to fathom:  she left Hawaii for New York.  It worked out for her, though.  She got work on Broadway and has been in the public eye ever since.  Some of her most popular films include 1979's The Rose, Down and Out in Beverly Hills and Ruthless People, both from 1986, Beaches two years later, and the 2004 remake of The Stepford Wives.  Still VERY active, there can be little doubt we will see a lot more of Midler in the years to come.  She does not seem the sort to allow growing old to slow her down.


For which of the following movies did Bette Midler NOT win a Golden Globe award?

a)  Gypsy

b)  For the Boys

c)  The Rose

d)  Divine Madness

e)  Bette Midler in Concert:  Diva Las Vegas



This is a big day for American vexillologists!  (For anyone NOT a flag nerd, that means someone who studies flags)  If you recall the Star Spangled Banner, which famously flew above Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, it had fifteen stars and fifteen stripes to celebrate each of the states in the country.  There was no "official" flag to honor the United States - they all had the red, white and blue, they all had stars and they all had stripes, but that was it.  That changed today in 1818 when the Congress adopted the standardized flag of thirteen red and white stripes, with each state being represented by a star.

Death is a sad but inevitable part of life. Everyone dies, it's just a question of when and because of what.  Today marks the death of an American President.  William Henry Harrison was elected to the highest office in the land in 1840 and took his seat on March 4th the next year.  At 68, he held the record of being the oldest man to be president (until Ronald Reagan), and he seemed to feel he had something to prove.  So he stood in the rain for two solid hours, giving the longest inaugural speech ever for an incoming president.  He caught a chill.  It didn't stop him, though, and for thirty days, he examined the state of affairs in Washington.  He intended to re-instate the national bank that Andrew Jackson had dismantled (that is a long story), reform government, and do lots of other things.  Unfortunately, none of it happened. Instead, his nagging chill turned into pneumonia and he was dead in thirty days, the first American president to die in office.  Vice President John Tyler took over the office (that is another long story!) and we will never know exactly what Harrison could have accomplished if he had lived... 

One of the things we at the ATT hope to do with our blog is introduce you to important people who may have accidentally been forgotten over the course of time.  For that reason and many others, we are very happy to celebrate the birthday of Dorothea Dix! Miss Dix was born in 1802, and for the majority of her 85 years, she was dedicated to the cause of improving the lives of the disadvantaged and disabled.  She can be accredited with progressive works that established humane and maybe even pleasant asylums to which people considered a menace to society or insane could retreat when they had nowhere else to go.  During the Civil War, she pioneered the effort to allow women to serve as nurses to injured soldiers (up to the 1860's, nursing was an almost-exclusively male profession).  A woman celebrated by many during her own lifetime, Dorothea Dix is no longer a household name in America.  It's time to change that!

Another great American woman celebrating a birthday today that most of us HAVE heard of is Maya Angelou. Born Margeurite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1928, Miss Angelou is celebrating 86 years today.  This acclaimed memoirist has published numerous books, most famously I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969).  She has also written poetry, plays, autobiographies, and screenplays, all while also receiving thirty honorary doctorates during her highly distinguished career.  She read her own poetry at Bill Clinton's presidential inauguration - the first person to have that honor since Robert Frost appeared at John Kennedy's inauguration.  This accomplished woman has spent her life seeking to break down racial, economic, and gender barriers across the world - efforts for which her recognition is richly deserved.


I try not to drink too much, because when I'm drunk, I bite. - Bette Midler


d)  Divine Madness - Although Bette was nominated for this, she lost out to Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner's Daughter