'The Rose': Bette Midler 1979 Star-Making Musical Revisited

The Rose Bette Midler
Bette Midler The Rose
The Rose with Bette Midler.

Mark Rydell will take part in an onstage discussion following the 30th anniversary screening of The Rose on Friday, Sept. 25, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. (Bette Midler was scheduled to attend, but has had to cancel her appearance at the screening. See further below.)

Inspired by the wild life and times of Janis Joplin, The Rose chronicles the rise and fall of late '60s rock star Mary Rose Foster (Midler), who is used by her self-serving manager (Alan Bates at his slimiest); loved by a just-folksy, Starred-and-Striped limo driver (Frederic Forrest); and who eventually comes to the realization that love is indeed a river that drowns the alcoholic and drug-addicted reed.

Directed by Rydell from a screenplay credited to Bo Goldman – though Michael Cimino reportedly co-wrote it – and taken from a story by Bill Kerby, The Rose is sheer, shabby, shameless melodrama – but with a Moral. (The moral? Well, never, ever shoot up, get drunk, and then go perform onstage.)

Alan Bates, Bette Midler in The Rose

In The Rose, her first “official” feature film, Bette Midler, perhaps afraid she might never have the chance to make another movie, runs the gamut: she screams, she cries, she laughs, she fights, she sings, she gets drunk, she shoots up, she says fuck at least twice in every sentence, she does fuck her driver, and then she drops dead. That helps to explain her Oscar nomination, though something tells me that Midler's legendary performances at New York's gay bathhouses would have been more deserving of acting awards. (And who would have guessed that she was to become the top female box office star of the 1980s?)

The Rose was nominated for three additional Academy Awards: Actor in a Supporting Role (Forrest), Film Editing (Robert L. Wolfe, C. Timothy O'Meara), and Sound (Theodore Soderberg, Douglas O. Williams, Paul Wells, Jim Webb).

Also in the Rose cast: Harry Dean Stanton, Barry Primus, David Keith, and several drag queens.

Bette Midler Alan Bates The Rose

Tickets for The Rose are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID.

The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. All seating is unreserved. For more information, call (310) 247-3600 or visit www.oscars.org.

Alan Bates and Bette Midler The Rose images: Courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library.

Bette Midler cancels appearance at 'The Rose' screening

Sept. 18 update: Actors Barry Primus and Doris Roberts, Oscar-nominated sound mixers Jim Webb and Theodore Soderberg, and director Mark Rydell will participate in an onstage discussion following the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' (now sold out) 30th anniversary screening of The Rose on Friday, September 25, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Los Angeles Times film critic Betsy Sharkey will host the evening.

Bette Midler was originally scheduled to be present at the event, but as per the Academy's press release “has had to cancel for personal reasons.” Instead, Midler will provide “a special video message dedicated to the cast, crew and fans of the film.”

In The Rose, Primus plays the role of Dennis and Roberts is Rose's mother. Webb and Soderberg received an Oscar nomination in the Best Sound category, along with Douglas Williams and Paul Wells.

Tickets for The Rose are sold out. A standby line will form on the day of the event, and standby numbers will be assigned at approximately 5:30 p.m. Any available tickets will be distributed shortly before the program begins. Tickets are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. All seating is unreserved. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 247-3600 or visit www.oscars.org.

Barry Primus, Theodore Soderberg, Doris Roberts, Betsy Sharkey, Amanda McBroom, Mark Rydell

Sept. 28 update: The 30th anniversary of the 1979 Bette Midler showcase The Rose was celebrated on Friday, September 25, at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Pictured above following the event are (left to right): actor Barry Primus, Oscar-nominated sound mixer Theodore Soderberg, actress Doris Roberts, host/film critic Betsy Sharkey, songwriter Amanda McBroom and director Mark Rydell.

Photos: Richard Harbaugh / © A.M.P.A.S.

Mark Rydell, Doris Roberts

Mark Rydell, Doris Roberts

Martin Landau, Doris Roberts, Mark Rydell

Martin Landau, Doris Roberts, Mark Rydell

Amanda McBroom

Amanda McBroom

Mark Rydell, Betsy Sharkey

Mark Rydell, Betsy Sharkey

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