Bette Midler has been one of Hollywood’s most distinctive faces ever since her Golden Globe-winning movie debut in The Rose. And, in recent years, the press has noticed that the iconic singer/actress has something of a doppelganger. Indeed, Bette’s daughter Sophie von Haselberg is the spitting image of the star in her 1980s prime.
The artist nicknamed The Divine Miss M and her only child enjoy a close relationship and have often been pictured alongside each other at high-profile events. One of the first times they hit the red carpet together was at the 2011 premiere of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. And as they posed for pictures side by side, it soon became apparent that they shared very similar facial features.
A year later, the pair’s close resemblance was commented on again when they turned up at a Parisian fashion show. Bette and Sophie looked more like sisters than mother and daughter as they admired Jean-Paul Gaultier’s new collection from the front row. Dressed in chic outfits themselves, the two were on a break together in the French capital at the time.
In 2015 Bette and Sophie showed their passion for fashion once more when they attended an event staged by designer Marchesa. The pair were seen enjoying the delights of New York Fashion Week in various smiley photos. The Daily Mail commented, “As lookalikes go, the resemblance between Bette Midler and her daughter Sophie von Haselberg is pretty uncanny.”
Sophie was also described as Bette’s mini-me by the same British newspaper 12 months later. This time around, the pair were attending the New York premiere of musical comedy Honeymoon in Vegas. And with their similar coats, the mother and daughter looked even more indistinguishable than usual.
The pair also had everyone talking in 2017 when they attended the 71st Tony Awards together. Bette was crowned Best Actress in a Musical at the event for her performance in Hello, Dolly! But the press were just as interested in her lookalike companion as they were Bette’s long overdue first victory.
Born in the Hawaiian city of Honolulu in 1945, Bette first started making a name for herself in various low-scale New York theatre productions while in her early 20s. She soon made it to the Broadway stage, though, landing roles in both Salvation and Fiddler on the Roof before the 1960s were over. But her path to true stardom took an unlikely route.
Indeed, Bette earned a large fan-base not through the historic venues of Broadway but via a gay bathhouse. The singer became a regular performer at the Continental Baths in the 1970s, in fact. And her flamboyant sense of style, bold and brassy vocal tones and camp sense of humor instantly struck a chord with its clientele.
Bette went on to translate her cult success to the mainstream with a string of hit albums. These included 1972 debut The Divine Miss M, her eponymous 1973 sophomore release and 1976’s Songs for the New Depression. She also scored several U.S. Top 10 hits such as “Do You Want to Dance?” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”
Then, in 1979 Bette proved she was a double threat when she took the leading role in big-screen drama The Rose. The star subsequently picked up a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for her performance as an exhausted singer Mary Rose Forster. She also made it to the top three of the U.S. Hot 100 with its title track.
Midler initially failed to capitalize on the success of her movie debut, however. In fact, her next feature – 1982 comedy Jinxed – bombed with both critics and audiences alike. And it would take another four years for her to return to the cinema screen. By that point, Bette would be both married and pregnant.
In 1984 Bette walked down the aisle with Martin von Haselberg – and they’d first encountered each other less than two months earlier. The groom was also a regular on the showbiz circuit, as one half of the The Kipper Kids. Alongside partner Brian Routh, he became renowned for his extreme performance art shows across Los Angeles during the rise of punk.
And then in 1986 Bette and Martin welcomed their first and only child into the world. Born in Los Angeles, Sophie initially appeared to eschew the entertainment world, studying for a sociology degree at Yale University. But following a stint at a Chinese advertising firm, she headed back to the same college to take a theater course.
In 2017 Sophie told Vanity Fair that her attempts to escape the entertainment industry were always going to be futile. “I grew up performing,” she explained. “And then I went to college and decided I was going to be really serious about not being an actor. So I studied other things. But it was just never gonna stick, now, was it?”
Sophie also addressed her career turnaround in a 2017 chat with Town and Country. “I studied a lot of things, I’ve lived in a bunch of places, and I tried not to become an actor,” she informed the magazine. “My mom, when I was a kid, would tell me, ‘Save yourself.’ She didn’t want me to go into the business, even though in the back of my mind I always knew it was what I would end up doing.”
A candid Sophie then went on to add, “I tried to focus on other things for a long time. But eventually I wanted it so badly that I couldn’t anymore. I didn’t want to go through life being miserable because I couldn’t do the one thing I wanted to do.”
Just three years later, Sophie appeared on a New York theater stage for the first time with a role in Billy and Ray. And in 2015 she was cast in Irrational Man, a movie directed by Woody Allen, who was left impressed by her talents. He’s quoted as saying, “She came in with a lot of other women that read and she’s the spitting image of her [mother] and she was just good,” Allen told Showbiz411 at the film’s LA premiere. “She projects intelligence because she’s intelligent.”
Since then, Sophie has shown up in HBO movie The Wizard of Lies, in which she portrayed the real-life Nicole De Bello. The budding actress subsequently appeared alongside Anna Gunn as a hacker in Equity. Next up were roles in movies A Woman, a Part and Ask for Jane.
Sophie went on to portray Linda Elwell in the acclaimed FX series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. She then reunited with its show-runner Ryan Murphy for a guest spot on drag queen drama Pose. And in 2019 Sophie bagged her first recurring role, playing Natasha in Lifetime’s fantasy comedy American Princess.
As we’ve heard Sophie has always enjoyed a close relationship with her A-lister mother. And in 2014 Bette revealed that her daughter had even helped to hold her mom’s marriage together. In an interview on Good Morning Britain, the star admitted that she and husband Martin had once gone through a rough patch but came to an understanding for the sake of their child.
“We used to fight bitterly,” Bette admitted. “We came to the conclusion that we wanted to raise a child. We wanted to raise a really wonderful child, we never wanted to hurt that kid in any way and we stayed together until it got better. And it did get better and it was really fascinating.”
Indeed, Bette showed that things were now hunky-dory when she said, “[Martin] really is the wind beneath my wings. He has looked after me for many, many years, he’s sacrificed a lot.” The star went on to add that she was proud of their enduring marriage, joking that “it’s like a thousand years in dog years.”
In 2014 Bette again gushed about her long-term partner, and his parental abilities in particular, while chatting to People magazine. “My husband is probably the greatest father who ever lived,” she stated. “He picked up the slack when I was on the road. He taught [Sophie] a foreign language, he taught her to cook!”
“It’s rare,” Bette said of her lengthy marriage. “’I think the secret is giving each other a lot of lead and a lot of room and not being in each other’s faces all the time. Listening is very hard. And compromise. Compromise is the hardest of all.”
And Bette is just as proud of her daughter as she is of her marriage. In a chat with The Guardian in 2014, the star said, “[Sophie] went to college in China and has just graduated from Yale drama school. I’m so excited she’s going to be an actor. I think what we did right was that we paid attention, we listened to what she said and we treated her as though she had worth.”
While Bette may have been delighted at her daughter’s foray into show-business, she’s apparently managed to avoid interfering too much. Speaking to The New York Post in 2016, Sophie said of her mother, “It’s good the way she’s been hands-off with everything. If you don’t figure out how to go at it alone, you’ll become too reliant on getting advice from parents and you won’t let yourself fail.”
In the same interview, Sophie admitted that initially she was reluctant to work with her mother. The opportunity arose for the first time on a campaign for fashion designer Marc Jacobs. “Initially, I was nervous and thought maybe I shouldn’t do it,” she recalled. “And then I was like, ‘Sophie, you’re being a total idiot.’”
“I love that Marc always picks such unique people,” Sophie continued. “It’s not a matter of whether you’re a supermodel or how thin you are. It’s people who are actually fascinating to look at and fascinating humans. And I’m so proud to be one.” Indeed, Sophie and her mother soon had everyone once again talking about their distinctive appearances.
Indeed, in 2019 Bette was invited to attend the Met Gala, the annual event that encourages the rich and famous to don their most elaborate outfits. And who else did the star choose to walk down the red carpet with but her very own child. Perhaps inevitably, the pair instantly garnered attention on social media.
The mother and daughter certainly embraced the event’s camp theme, that’s for sure. Bette wore a sequined black outfit that looked like it had been taken from the wardrobe of one of her biggest movie hits, Hocus Pocus. And Sophie sported a Michael Kors outfit specifically designed to resemble a campfire. She topped it off with a large and equally colorful headdress.
But once all the fuss about their flamboyant outfits had died down, social-media users also noticed something else about the pair: they looked almost identical to each other. “How did Bette Midler take Bette Midler to the Met Gala?” enquired a Twitter user. “Are those both Bette Midler?” another asked.
Several months earlier, the pair also courted attention for their similar looks at the Hulaween bash that Bette stages every year to raise funds for good causes. While Sophie sported a glittery black floor-length dress, her mother chose a similarly bewitching shirt and leggings combo. Both also wore celestial head-pieces to complete their matching Halloween displays.
Bette went on to explain their striking stylistic choices alongside a picture of the pair on Twitter. However, most of her followers were left none the wiser. “A diplomat from the planet Fallopia, bringing a message of peace, tolerance and kindness for all on planet Earth,” the star wrote.
Thankfully, it seems unlikely that Sophie would have had an issue with all the doppelganger talk, even if that might not have been the case years previously. She told Vanity Fair in 2017, “I never wanted to be compared to [my mom]. But I’ve since accepted it as something completely unavoidable.” And Sophie hasn’t been totally averse to getting career tips from her mother, either.
When asked by InStyle about the most important guidance that Bette has provided, she replied, “Honestly, I think it’s the lesson that yes, sometimes a project is based in passion and creativity and artistry. But sometimes, a job is just a job. And if you’re working on something that’s a job as opposed to a passion project, you still work your hardest and you do the thing.”
Sophie added, “And you don’t beat yourself up about it when you go home at the end of the day.” The actress also revealed that she’s been inspired by the work ethic that’s seen her mother remain a Hollywood star for four decades. “There’s something, I think, so vaudevillian about my mom and the work she has done and created,” she stated.
“I feel that that’s very much the world I have been born into,” Sophie continued. “And I totally embrace that, and I love that. My mom has always pushed me, as an artist, to create my own work, and not just to do the projects that other people involve me in, which I think is a really good thing.”
“Trust me, I am very happy to be an actor in somebody else’s project any other day of the week,” Sophie added. But she also expressed her desire to become an artist with a voice of her own, saying, “It’s really important to make work that I, myself, am passionate about, and that I’m the driving force behind.”
Sophie and Bette still see each other on a regular basis. In 2014 the former told The New York Post that she enjoys dinner with her parents each weekend and they often head to Queens, New York, for meals. She said, “The last time we went to Flushing, I think we went to six restaurants in search of the perfect cold sesame noodle.”
So, where can we see Bette next? Well, the star has three movies in the pipeline. She’ll first portray lawyer Bella Abzug in a biopic of Gloria Steinem before showing up in The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife. Bette will then rejoin Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn in Family Jewels, the long-awaited sequel to their 1990s smash The First Wives Club.