Oprah: That sounds like Lucy and Ethel at the chocolate factory in I Love Lucy!
Bette: Lucille Ball was one of the greatest. I laugh till I cry when I watch that episode. Lucy was an inspiration to me because she was older when she started, and she'd been completely wasted in movies.
Oprah: I've heard a couple of people say that your show is Lucyesque, which is a huge compliment.
Bette: It is a huge compliment—too big. She was like Chaplin. Most people don't deserve to be spoken of in the same breath as Chaplin or Lucille Ball.
Oprah: You once told me that you never read any of your press.
Bette: I decided years ago not to read stories about myself anymore. Each one is a potential minefield: Whatever it says, you're bound to take it the wrong way. Why do it if you know it's going to make you miserable?
Oprah: What in particular led to this decision?
Bette: I read a comment that made me think I should stop singing for a while. And I didn't want to stop singing, because it was the only thing I loved. At first I thought, "Maybe I'll get better and eventually please the person who wrote about my singing." But then I thought, "I probably will never please this person. I should just do what pleases me."
Oprah: So you made a vow never to read another thing?
Bette: Yes. We Midlers are tough!
Oprah: You won't even read this article?
Bette: No, I will not. Do you mind?
Oprah: I don't mind. I find it admirable. It takes self-confidence to do that.
Bette: Well, it takes knowing what you can and cannot absorb—knowing your own strengths and weaknesses.
Oprah: So do you come from a confident place within yourself?
Bette: I come from an overly confident place. But I'm overconfident because of feelings of inferiority. Know what I mean?
Oprah: Yes—I know what that feels like.
Bette: I'm confident that I'm as intelligent as many people, but I know that I'm not as intelligent as some. So in the presence of hyperintelligent people, I'm a shrinking violet because I don't want to look like a fool. I know a little about a lot and a lot about a little.
We Hear You!