Midler in Los Angeles, 1990.
Midler‘s 1990 cover of the Julie Gold song “From a Distance“, the first offering from her seventh studio album Some People‘s Lives (1990 ), topped the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts and achieved platinum status in the US. The same year, she starred along with Trini Alvarado as the title character in John Erman‘s drama film Stella. The third feature film adaptation of the 1920 novel Stella Dallas byOlive Higgins Prouty, Midler portrayed a vulgar single mother living in Watertown, New York, who, determined to give her daughter all the opportunities she never had, ultimately makes a selfless sacrifice to ensure her happiness. The movie scored mediocre reviews, while Midler received her first Razzie Award nomination for Worst Actress.
She co-starred with Woody Allen in the 1991 film Scenes from a Mall, again for Paul Mazursky. In the film, Allen‘s character reveals to his author wife Deborah, played by Midler, after years of a happy marriage, that he has had an affair, resulting in her request for divorce. The movie performed poorly, and received a mixed reception by critics. Midler fared somewhat betterwith her other 1991 project For the Boys, on which she reteamed with The Rose director Mark Rydell. A historical musical drama, it tells the story of 1940s actress and singer Dixie Leonard, played by Midler, who teams up with EddieSparks, a famous performer to entertain American troops. While the film received amixed reception from critics, Midler earned rave review for her portrayal. The following year she was awarded her second Golden Globe and received her secondAcademy Award nomination for Best Actress.
Midler turned down the lead role in the musical comedy Sister Act in 1992, which instead went to Whoopi Goldberg. Midler won an Emmy Award in 1992 for her performance on the penultimate episode of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in May 1992, during which she sang an emotion-laden “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)“ to Johnny Carson. That night, Midler began singing “Here‘s That Rainy Day“, Carson‘s favorite song; Carson joined in a few lyrics later. In 1993, she starred with Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy in the Walt Disney comedy fantasy film, Hocus Pocus, as Winifred Sanderson, the head witch of the Sanderson Sisters. Released to initially mixed reviews, through various outlets such as strong DVD sales and annual record-breaking showings on 13 Nights of Halloween, the film has achieved cult status over the years. In relation to Hocus Pocus, every year Midler hosts her annual Hulaween costume party, which benefits the New York Restoration Project. Her television work includes an Emmy-nominated version of the stage musical Gypsy and a guest appearance as herself in Fran Drescher‘s The Nanny.
She appeared on Seinfeld in the 1995 episode “The Understudy“, which was the season finale of that show‘s sixth season in 1995. That same year, Midler had asupporting role in Get Shorty. Her 1997 HBO special Diva Las Vegas earned her a third Emmy Award, for Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Music Program. Midler‘s other 1990s films include The First Wives Club (1996 ). In 1997, Midler, along with her co-stars from The First Wives Club, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton, was a recipient of the Women in Film Crystal Award, which honors “outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.“