Bette Midler couldn’t wait to leave home, said Tim Teeman in the London Times. The brassy 63-year-old singer grew up in a working-class family in Honolulu, and while her parents did their best, she realized early on that she wanted a much more glamorous life than they could ever provide. “We were very poor; it was a hardscrabble childhood, not particularly happy,” she says. “I thought I would be an actorrr. I thought I’d be Ethel Barrymore. I didn’t know who she was, but she was my idea of an actorrr. It seemed it would be more fun to be someone else rather than myself.” Her father, a house painter, wasn’t exactly supportive. “It was a real drag. My father put everybody down. He was like, ‘Get a job.’ But that gave me something to fight against. I battled with him to the end.” Midler lasted three years at the University of Hawaii, then left for the mainland, never to look back. Hawaii still generates mixed feelings for her. “The best part was nature, which is so intense there. The sky is bright blue, the clouds are puffy, the grass is lush. But the people were not very nice. I was a white kid in a mostly Asian neighborhood. You heard Hawaii was a great melting pot? Hooey. I had a very strong fantasy life.”
of The Week magazine.