The Divine Miss M just made personal Tonys history.
Bette Midler, star of the Broadway revival of “Hello, Dolly!,” won her first competitive Tony award on Sunday night, taking home the statuette for Best Actress in a Musical. She’d previously won a special (non-competitive) award in 1974 for “adding lustre to the Broadway season,” but, at 71, she finally nabbed the recognition she deserved.
“I’m so privileged. I’m so honored,” she said as she accepted her award. “I hope I don’t cry,” she added, before joking about dating most of the Tony voters.
Midler’s speech was probably one of the longest of the night ― the orchestra attempted to play her off, but she continued speaking, outlasting the musical crescendo. “Shut that crap off,” she yelled at one point.
“Revival is an interesting word,” she could be heard saying when the music stopped. “It means ‘near death.’”
She wrapped up by telling audiences that “Hello, Dolly!” had never really gone away, encouraging everyone to see the classic show.
Born in 1945, Midler made her Broadway debut in “Fiddler on the Roof” in 1964. Throughout out her decadeslong career in show business, the singer-songwriter-actor-comedian won several Grammys and Emmys, leaving her one letter away from the coveted EGOT designation. She’s been twice-nominated for an Oscar for her roles in “The Rose” and “For the Boys,” but has yet to secure an Academy Award.
In fact, in 1979, Midler lost an Oscar to “Norma Rae” actress Sally Field, who, this year, was also nominated for a Tony for Best Actress in a Play for her role in “The Glass Menagerie.” But Field lost the award to”A Doll’s House, Part 2” actress Laurie Metcalf. So ... what goes around, comes around?
“Hello, Dolly!,” based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 play “The Merchant of Yonkers,” was famously adapted into a movie starring Barbra Streisand. It tells the story of a matchmaker, Dolly Levi ― played by Midler in the 2017 production ― a professional meddler who falls for a “client,” the grumpy near-millionaire Horace Vandergelder.
Check out more of the 2017 Tony Award winners here.