- Stockard Channing,TheFortune, 1975.
She didn’t know his work, much less his name, so a furious Mike Nichols stormed out of their meeting...Well, she was in a bad way because she had just been molested by her masseur in The Beverly Wilshire steam room,as she finally explained in 1982, “I guess he thought Ineeded to have my bones jumped on, because this guy came on to me and would not let go. He threw me in the shower and started soaping me up. I was very frightened he was going to whip it out... And I couldn’tget away. The guy kept me there pastmy hour making me 20 minutes latefor my meeting with Nichols. I was a nervous wreck. I looked at Nichols and all I thought was: Who is he? I wanted to talkabout his work but I couldn’tremember any of it...Hetold everybody what a cooz I was and how I had no business in the business. But I still think he’s a fabulous director.”
- Barbara Harris, Nashville, 1975. It required an ensemble, not an all out star turn from The Divine Miss M... who had begun as an extra in Goodbye Columbus and Hawaii.
- Talia Shire, Rocky, 1976.
- Goldie Hawn, Foul Play, 1978. Midler would have buried Chevy Chase. (Not a bad idea!)
- Liza Minnelli, Arthur, 1980. Arthur went from John Belushi and Bud Cort to Michael Palin and John Travolta as thoughts for his ideal woman Linda Marolla included Bette,Mia Farrow, Goldie Hawn, Barbara Hershey, Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, Cybill Shepherd, Meryl Streep and Tuesday Weld - in the throes of divorcing the titularDudley Moore.
- Barbara Hershey, The Entity, 1980. Poor Clara is pursued by the titular being. So who else would you choose for the role but… Miss M! Then again, Canadian director Sidney J Furie refused to call it a horror film! Other front runners were Jill Clayburgh, Sally Field and Jane Fonda. Two years previously, Clayburgh and Fonda lost Norma Rae to Field - her finest hour.
- Carol Burnett, Annie, 1981. The Divine Miss M passed on the wicked Miss H… in order to rule the roost of Jinxed! Director Don Siegel had a heart attack and Sam Peckinpah subbed on poor Don’s one and only true disaster movie. And, alas, his finale. Not a way to go.
- Linda Ronstadt, The Pirates of Penzance, 1983. Bette tried hard but the film remained faithful to most of the Broadway stars.
- Kim Basinger, My Stepmother Is An Alien, 1988. Her name came up twice during the film's six years on the boil.
- Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
- Jessica Tandy, Driving Miss Daisy, 1989. While Lucille Ball, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Angela Lansbury coveted the obvious Oscar-winning role (at 81, Jessica was the oldest Best Actress), the studio toyed with the mad notion of Eddie Murphy driving The Divine Miss M. Seriously!
- Kathy Bates, Misery, 1990. In the fray for the vindictive fan and what became Kathy’s Oscar on March 25, 1991… Anjelica Huston, Jessica Lange and…. Bette Midler??? Talk about off the wall… “I think it scared her, this kind of role,” said director Rob Reiner. Certainly scared Oscar voters into saying yes to Kathy.
- Dolly Parton, Straight Talk, 1992. Finding no takers for her combine's radio phone-in comedy, Dolly made it, herself. Didn't help.
- Julie Kavner, This Is My Life, 1992. Faced with Fox insistence on stars (Cher, Bette, Michelle Pfeiffer), the Ephron sisters, writers Nora and Delia, fought for Julie, the actress closest to their idea of a divorced mother of two trying to make it as a stand-up comic - Rhoda's TV sister, Woody Allen regular and the voice of Marge in The Simpsons.
- Whoopi Goldberg, Sister Act, 1992. “My fans don't want to see me in a wimple...” Paul Rudnik had written for her, “to celebrate Bette's innate joy and life form,” said. “But it was very naive to expect a studio to make a film that undermines the Catholic church.” Disney watered it down and Midler “turned everything down, stayed home and planted a garden” after the debacle of her pet movie, For The Boys. Enter: The Divine Miss G - resulting in her first huge hit (and instant sequel) as a lounge singer hiding from the mob in... a convent. Some Like It Religious!
- Goldie Hawn, Everyone Says I Love You, 1996. In Woody Allen’s original line-up. But not in the film.
- Jane Horrocks, Bring Me The Head of Mavis Davis, 1997. First considerations were all Hollywoodian as the BBC-Goldcrest comedy about the music world strived to be more than simply British. Director John Henderson insisted on Jane and was "prepared to lose the film rather than cast the wrong person." If only he had fought as hard about the script.
- Brenda Blethyn, RKO 281, 1998. All set to be Hollywood gossip hen Louella Parsons in Ridley Scott's making-of-Citizen-Kane piece - before budget had to be downgraded to suit an HBO movie.
- Suzanne Pleshette, The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride, 1998. The first triumph was Bambi meets Hamlet in Africa, the sequel turned Kovu and Kiara into Romeo and Juliet… Helen Mirren was also seen (and heard?) about voicing Kovu’s vengeful mother, Zira. The Divine Miss M made her Disney-voice debut as Georgette, an uppity, prize poodle in the Disneyfied Dickens, Oliver & Company, 1987.
- Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago, 2002.
- Caroline Aaron, Beyond The Sea, 2004. Stand-up comic and comedy writer turned Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson asked her to be as Bobby Darin's sister Nina - but Kevin Spacey made the biopic. His way.
- Helen Mirren, Phil Spector, TV, 2012. One day, Queen Elizabeth II. And another, Linda Kenney Baden, Spector’s defence attorney during his first trial for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson in 2003. (He was jailed for 19 years in 2009). The Friends of Lana Clakson campaigners warned Mirren of “serious consequences” if she didn’t quit the film. She just got on with the job of surprise replacement for" Midler. “But,” said Mirren, “we’re both blonde."
- Jackie Weaver, Super Fun Night, TV, 2013-2014 Midler’s agent expected much more money (Bette, too, perhaps) to be comic Rebel Wilson’ mom - eagerly picked up by Australia’s Oscar-nominee for being Bradley Cooper’s mom in Silver Linings Playbook, 2011.