A mere six weeks into their courtship, 39-year-old Bette Midler took the initiative to propose to Martin von Haselberg.
The Argentinian-born von Haselberg accepted the proposal, and the iconic 77-year-old superstar hurried with him to an altar in Las Vegas, where they exchanged vows in a ceremony officiated by an Elvis impersonator—the sole witness to their union.
Serving as a testament to enduring love and commitment, the couple, spanning nearly 40 years, acknowledges that their journey wasn’t without challenges, yet they “stayed together until it got better, and it did.”
Bette Midler, renowned for her unforgettable voice and remarkable acting prowess, had already amassed Grammy, Golden Globe, and Tony accolades when she encountered 35-year-old Martin von Haselberg in 1984.
At the age of 39, the star of “The Rose” solidified her relationship with the Argentinian gentleman and proposed after a mere six weeks of dating.
The couple eloped to Las Vegas, exchanging vows at the Starlight Chapel with Elvis presiding over the ceremony.
Recalling the 2:00 am wedding that cost a mere $45 and necessitated a wardrobe change for her future husband, the “Hocus Pocus” star reminisced, “My wedding was two people—my husband and me—and, of course, the Elvis impersonator that married us.”
“He got all dressed up in this suit that I was like, ‘I’m not getting married to you in that suit!’ So, he had to change his suit, and then we went to one of the little churches, and we went to get the license. We had a tape of Nino Rota music…and we walked down the aisle,” mentioned the “Beaches” star, referring to Nino Rota, the composer of “The Godfather” trilogy.
The impromptu wedding decision turned out to be a remarkable one. A mere two years later, the couple welcomed their only daughter, Sophie, now 36, an actor with credits in Woody Allen’s 2015 film “Irrational Man.”
Yet, until a couple of years ago, the singer of “The Rose” and her artist husband, known for his roles in the 1980s “The Kipper Kids,” had no visual mementos of their enchanting Vegas wedding.
After more than three decades of marriage, a surprise arrived in the mail.
“Apparently, there was a photographer there,” Midler revealed on a 2021 episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” “When the Starlight Chapel closed its doors about five years ago, they sent us the pictures. We had never seen the pictures [before].”
The years following that day haven’t always been smooth.
Approaching their 40th wedding anniversary next year, the “Wind Beneath My Wings” singer disclosed that the foundation of her commitment with von Haselberg initially relied heavily on compromise and their determination to be the best parents to Sophie.
“We used to fight bitterly,” Midler shared, stating that the birth of Sophie shifted their priorities. “We came to the conclusion that we wanted to raise a child. We never wanted to hurt that kid in any way. [So] we stayed together until it got better, and it did.”
Von Haselberg emphasized the importance of putting family first. “There was a conscious effort to create exactly the life we have,” said the former performance actor, who left his job as a commodities trader to support his wife’s career and help raise their daughter.
The “First Wives Club” star effusively praises her husband, referring to him as the “greatest father.”
“My husband is probably the greatest father who ever lived. He taught [Sophie] a foreign language. He taught her how to cook,” Midler continued. “He has looked after me for many, many years. He’s sacrificed a lot.”
In return, Midler acknowledges that she has learned to compromise, a practice she hadn’t embraced before.
“Listening is very hard. And compromise. Compromise is the hardest of all,” said the star of “Stepford Wives,” adding that she also learned accountability. “The blaming, I think, is the worst part…It’s because you don’t want to carry the burden yourself. You want to push it off on someone else. But honestly, you have to learn not to do that.”
In 2020, the proud parents walked their daughter down the aisle at her wedding, which, due to Covid-19, had only 11 guests.
“It was so sweet. They had a great time,” Midler said of her daughter and son-in-law, Harry J. N. Guinness. “They stayed up all night, and they drank. They had a ball.”
And in case you’re wondering, Elvis did not make an appearance. We always enjoy hearing about couples committed to making their relationship work, a rarity in today’s Hollywood.
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