As tens of thousands of New Yorkers fought to get by without heat and electricity in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Bette Midler decided to hold her annual Halloween extravaganza at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Oct. 31.
Midler hosted the party – called Hulaween in deference to Midler’s home state of Hawaii – in an effort to raise awareness for her charity, Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project, which strives to improve outdoor green spaces around the city.
“When I said yes to the event I had no idea how stressful it would be,” Midler, dressed as Coco Chanel, told the New York Post. “We’ve just been pulling threads here and there, just calling in favors and everything.” Special guest Al Gore and master of ceremonies Judy Gold weren’t able to make it, but plenty of other celebrities stopped by, including actress Debra Messing, designer Michael Kors, and singer Debbie Harry.
The masquerade ball, which this year had a French theme, was co-chaired by Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The price for tables ranged from $10,000 to $65,000, and was barely ten blocks from 40th Street. Below that line, thousands of New Yorkers lived without electricity, running water, and food spoiling in idle refrigerators as Midler and friends dined on a French menu prepared by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Grateful she did not personally lose power during the storm, Midler acknowledged that cleanup efforts in the local parks her organization supports will be overwhelming. “Every public park is closed because it’s too dangerous to go in,” she told Us Weekly. “These extreme weather events are happening more and more and there’s a pattern to them. The quicker everybody wakes up and smells the flooding, the quicker we will all be able to work together to do something about this. Now it’s on our doorstep and we have really got to pull together.”
Midler, 66, grew up in Hawaii in one of the few Jewish families in a predominantly Asian neighborhood. She moved to New York City in 1965 and the following year made her Broadway debut in Fiddler on the Roof as Tzeitel, one of the daughters of Tevya the milkman, played by the legendary Zero Mostel. She has been performing live concerts and appearing in films for more than 40 years. She has twice been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Rose in 1979 and For the Boys in 1991.
After much success in the 1970s, Midler saw her career slump in the early 1980s until director Paul Mazursky cast her in his 1986 comedy Down and Out in Beverly Hills. The film, which also resurrected the career of Richard Dreyfuss, was a huge hit and made Midler a hot property once again. A series of high-profile films followed, including Ruthless People, Outrageous Fortune, Big Business, and Beaches. She can next be seen starring opposite Billy Crystal in the big-screen comedy Parental Guidance, which hits theaters in late December.
Midler was able to raise $1.8 million for her charity, she reported via Twitter.