Bette Midler Hilariously Reveals How Ripping Her Dress Led to Appearance on ‘The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson’

by Madison Miller

Bette Midler has been in the spotlight for over half a century.

She is a singer, songwriter, actress, author, and comedian. Midler has won four Golden Globes, three Grammy Awards, three Primetime Emmy Awards, and two Tony Awards.

She is known for songs like “The Rose,” “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and “Do You Want to Dance.” As for film, she’s been in anything from “Hocus Pocus” to “The Rose” to “The Addams Family” to “The First Wives Club.”

On “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Midler talks about her experience auditioning and being on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” for the first time. Forty-eight years ago this week, Midler was gracing the cover of Rolling Stone magazine’s elegant paper edition. In the article, Midler talks about her appearance on the show.

However, her appearance on the show she remembers as being far less glamourous.

“I was wearing vintage clothes and I got out of the car and my dress ripped all the way across my butt …” Midler said.

She asked her manager for his jacket to hide her underwear and he said, “I can’t go into ‘The Tonight Show’ without a jacket .” Her solution after not finding a safety pin was to instead use a paperclip to stitch her dress back together.

In fact, Midler’s fury with her manager denying her request and the understandable anger of a broken dress, led her to giving it her all on the audition. She used the pent up emotion to give a “bigger than life” performance, and it worked.

“I really gave it my all- I mean I was livid,” Bette Midler recalls about the emotion she poured into the audition. “So I got the gig!”

Bette Midler 1992 Appearance on ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson’

While her audition to get on the show had a lot of technical difficulties, it clearly worked out. She would be on the show several times throughout the years.

In 1992, she was on the show again right before Johnny Carson left the show. He was replaced by Jay Leno.

The two talked about her first time auditioning for the show. At the time she said was so nervous about being on the show and saying everything she had planned.

This time she wrote a letter to Carson that she sang to him on the show so she could say everything she needed to say. She said many women in America were wishing they had the opportunity to do the same thing.

Bette Midler made a number of jokes toward her friend Carson. One of which was, “When I can’t sleep, I count your wives at night.”

Midler sings her minutes-long performance that praises Carson, his show, and all his talent. She performs the letter with her beautiful, theatrically extravagant singing voice.

“How I’ll miss the social intercourse so very. Now I have to have it with the guy I married,” Midler sings.

From her ripped dress to the risqué letter, it seems her time on the show was scandalous – but entertaining – to say the least.