Matt Lauer and Bette Midler

Bravo for Divine Miss M
For Cleaning up Our Town

By Edward Callaghan

OR her work on behalf of the New York Restoration Project and Adopt-a-Highway, Bette Midler was honored by Lenox Hill Hospital at the Waldorf-Astoria. President Gladys George pulled in more than 1,400 supporters and raised a record-breaking $2.5 million for the hospital’s community programs.

The occasion was the Lenox Hill Hospital Autumn Ball 2002 "Bravo," a celebration of the hospital’s staff, benefactors and folks like Bette who make a life a little better for everyone.

NBC’s Matt Lauer presented a Medal of Distinction to Midler. He said his wife Annette was keeping a sharp eye on him because "she knows that I’m a sucker for blondes with big knockers." Matt and Annette enveloped Bette in roses.

Annette, who gave birth to 18-month-old Jack at Lenox Hill Hospital, said, “I didn’t want to leave – they pampered me so.”

Bette also praised the hospital: “I love Lenox Hill – 2 beds, 24-hour service, good lighting and a view of 66th Street. It’s our perfect getaway, our very own Four Seasons Hotel.”

She told pals Karen and Bill Lauder, “Doesn’t every bad girl dream of being honored by a fancy East Side hospital?”

Gladys George, Annette and Matt Lauer,
Bette Midler, James  and Ellen Marcus
Photos by Rob Rich

On accepting her silver hand-engraved Tiffany medallion, Bette said, “We began picking up trash in Fort Tryon Park. Our motto was get the trash off the streets onto the stage where it belongs.”

The comment drew howls for the lady who has played everywhere from the Continental Baths to the Philharmonic.

The self-described Queen of Composte told of her work crews finding dead bodies amongst the trash.

There was much praise for chairman Jim and Ellen Marcus who declared this event their "swan song" as they couldn’t do BETTE-r.

For over a century, the Autumn Ball has been regarded as one of the season’s most glamorous events, and this year was no exception. "BRAVO!" was chaired by Erika and Peter Aron, Gladys George and Stuart Orsher, Diane and Paul Guenther, Marlene Hess and James D. Zirin, and Ellen and James S. Marcus.

In the audience were the McEnroe Clan-tennis ace John, his wife Patty and parents Kay and John, the Robert Nederlanders, William and Karen Lauder and the Rev. Calvin Butts.

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