Watch Bette Midler's Touching Tony Awards Speech - Rolling Stone
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Watch Bette Midler Blow Through Play-Off Music in Touching Tony Awards Speech

‘Hello, Dolly!’ star thanks every colleague, mentor and behind-the-scenes helper she could think of

Bette Midler was determined to get every last “thank you” in at the 2017 Tony Awards on Sunday night, play-off music be damned. The veteran actress excitedly took to the stage after winning Best Performance of an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, and reveled in her time onstage.

“I am so privileged, I am so honored to receive this from you all tonight,” the Hello, Dolly! star began her speech. “I hope I don’t cry. I have so many people I’d like to thank.”

Midler, whose resume of films and TV appearances ranges from Ruthless People to Hocus Pocus to First Wives Club, went on to rattle off a long list of colleagues, mentors and industry veterans that included everyone from her makeup artist (“She makes me look 30 years younger than I am!”) to Carol Channing, the original star of Hello, Dolly!

At one point in her earnest list of thank you’s, however, the play-off music started up, urging her to wrap up her speech, but Midler continued on, essentially steamrolling the music with her voice.

The Hollywood legend even quipped about the music at one point, “Shut that crap off!” – to which the audience of performers laughed and cheered uproariously.

Midler closed out her time onstage by saying, “I just want to say that revival is an interesting word. It means that something is near death and it’s been brought back to life. Hello, Dolly! never really went away. It has been here all along. It’s in our DNA. It’s optimism, it’s democracy, it’s color, it’s love of life. It’s hilarity. This is a classic. Come and see it. It’s not just me! This has the ability to life your spirits in these terrible, terrible times.”

In all, Midler’s speech lasted more than four minutes, but she wasn’t done even then. Once offstage, the actress continued her speech in the press room, apologizing for all the names she’d somehow missed during her speech.

And later that night, she added one last, very important addendum, via Twitter: “In all the pandemonium tonight I neglected to thank the brilliant ensemble of ‘Hello Dolly’, whom I adore. Please forgive me kids! I’m old!”

In This Article: Broadway, Musical, Tony Awards


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