Sophie Haselberg, Bette Midler’s daughter, never once thought she’d get married. But in 2021, amid a pandemic, she exchanged vows with her husband, Harry J. N. Guinness, in a homespun wedding ceremony with 11 people. It was so personalized that Midler and Sophie’s father got their hands dirty.
Bette Midler wears many hats. While she is a celebrated actress known for her roles in such classic films as “The First Wives Club,” “Parental Guidance,” and “The Addams Family,” she is also a singer with beautiful songs and renditions of “From a Distance,” “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and “The Rose,” for which she won a Grammy.
Besides a successful career spanning over five decades, the actress also boasts a successful family life, with her loving husband of four decades, Martin von Haselberg, and a wonderful daughter, Sophie von Haselberg.
Like many celebrity marriages, Midler and Haselberg’s romance started in a whirlwind. They first met after being introduced by mutual friends at a King Crimson band concert. They did not see each other again for two years.
In 1983, she met him again in a bar around Los Angeles, where she says lots of performance art was happening in the early 80s. She went into one of the clubs to see what was happening and met him there. They exchanged numbers, but he did not call her for another year. But when he called, they did not waste any more time, and two weeks later, they were married.
Despite not knowing each other for a long time, the two eloped and headed to the Starlight Chapel in Las Vegas. There, they exchanged vows with an Elvis impersonator conducting the ceremony. Midler recalled:
“My wedding had two people — my husband and me — and, of course, the Elvis impersonator that married us.”
It was a spur-of-the-moment thing, but the two have never had regrets. Decades later, Midler still recalls that they walked down the aisle to Italian composer Nino Rota’s music. And the funny bit? It was Midler who asked Haselberg to marry her.
The “In My Life” singer recalls the first thing that attracted her to her husband, saying he had a beautiful smile and big warm hands. His kindness, however, is what she found unique about him.
Being married later in life — she was 39 when she wed Haselberg — posed a new challenge for Midler. For many years, she had been independent, paid her bills, called the shots, and did things the way she wanted them done.
Now, here she was, newly married and trying to incorporate the life of another into her own. It was a difficult time, and the first two years of their union were marred with bitter fights due to the fact.
However, two years after their spontaneous elopement, they welcomed their first and only child, daughter Sophie, a welcome event that helped them slow down on the fighting and set their priorities right. Midler shared:
“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.”.
Today, they say the secret to their long-running marriage is prioritizing family. Haselberg has been a perfect example of how making sacrifices for his family has helped their union remain standing many decades later.
Midler’s Husband Sacrificed His Career for His Family
Midler praises her husband for being an excellent partner for the many years they have been together. Still, most importantly, she recognizes him as the most incredible father who ever lived, and with enough reason to back it up.
Shortly after the pair welcomed their daughter in 1986, Hasleberg, who worked as a commodities trader at the time, quit his job to support his wife’s career and help raise their daughter.
Haselberg took it upon himself to be the present parent when his wife worked. He picked up the slack when she was away on the road for days, even weeks, promoting her songs and roles in movies such as “Beaches.” He taught Sophie a foreign language and how to cook…
The “Perfect Isn’t Easy” singer acknowledges her husband’s efforts in raising their daughter and says they both combined efforts to teach her about patience and responsibility. “I didn’t do it by myself,” she says.
As a result, Sophie grew up to be the young adult of every parent’s dream. She is responsible, hardworking, incredibly fascinated by life, and full of wonder, something Midler says she enjoys about her daughter
They had the parenting thing perfectly figured out, but as with any marriage, Midler and Haselberg had their (un)fair share of challenges. However, along the way, they learned to put their differences aside and do what they felt was best for their family.
Four decades later, Midler has plenty of secrets to having a long and beautiful marriage, especially in Hollywood, where divorce is the order of the day. She feels patience plays a very paramount role in keeping a marriage intact..
Choosing to give in is an uphill task, but sometimes it must be done for peace. Midler has also learned to let some things go and pick her battles wisely.
That said, her major takeaway from her marriage life is learning to listen to her partner, to compromise, which she says is the hardest, and to desist from assigning blame to her partner.
Above everything else, Midler has learned to recognize that she found a gem in Haselberg and that theirs is a rare type of love that many spend their entire lives searching for..
During her eleventh year of marriage, Midler disclosed that she and her husband were still getting to know each other because, in her words:
“You never know anybody. You think you do, but you don’t, and every day another layer is peeled off.”
The fights and disagreements are long behind them, and they often reminisce about their challenges. The “Driver and Company” actress revealed that she and her husband often curl up on the couch, remember some of their most trying moments, and wonder what it was all about.
All through her early 40s, Midler and Haselberg tried for other children, but none was forthcoming. They resorted to fertility treatment, and when she did get pregnant, she suffered a miscarriage.
They eventually had to accept the situation and were glad they had Sophie, who the “Hocus Pocus” star called her greatest accomplishment.
Sophie Gets Married in a Homespun Wedding With 11 People
Born in 1986, two years after her parents married in a 2 a.m., $45 Las Vegas wedding, Sophie was, and still is, the apple of her parents’ eyes.
Midler once disclosed that she never wanted her daughter to become an actress, but Sophie’s destiny as an actress was too strong to resist. She studied sociology and East Asian studies at Yale University, then worked at an ad agency in China. However, she soon returned from China with her mind made up about being an actress.
Despite Midler and Haselberg’s initial inhibitions about their daughter following in her mother’s path, they got behind her and became her biggest supporters.
Today, she is recognized both as an actress and a producer, with her acting credits including her role as April in “Irrational Man,” Joyse in “Ask for Jane,” and Sissy St. Claire in “Give Me Pity!”
She has also had a run on TV appearing as Natasha in “American Princess” and Syd in “Pose,” a TV series about New York City’s ballroom culture, an LGBTQ subculture in the African-American and Latino communities throughout the 80s and 90s.
Even better, she is now married to the love of her life and often wonders how she got here, seeing as she was an anti-marriage enthusiast since she was in her twenties:
“The truth is love and a global pandemic got in the way of my plans to never marry.”.
Sophie revealed that she had been with her now-husband, Harry J.N Guinness, for a year and a half when COVID-19 hit. She says one night, she and Guinness were having dinner with friends, criticizing people who had stockpiled toilet paper, and the next, they were packing up their stuff to move in with her parents, where they knew there would be plenty of toilet paper.
As the anxiety of the pandemic rose, she and Guinness began to slowly encourage the thought of getting married. They were both highly against marriage, but Sophie revealed that they gradually shifted from “why get married” to “why not.”.
They were madly in love, and the realities of the pandemic forced them to confront their fears. They both thought having a spouse who’d stand with them during their worst moments was a good idea and soon found themselves wondering why they had held off for so long:
“The only question left was ‘why wait?’ So 10 days after our mutual proposals…we married.”
They walked down the aisle in a wedding attended by 11 people in Sophie’s parents’ home. It was in the middle of a pandemic, and inviting relatives and friends was prohibited, so they had no choice but to make it small.
They settled for a ceremony so personalized that they did everything themselves, with Sophie’s mom creating the gorgeous flower arrangements herself.
Seeing as it was a home-based celebration, they decided they would go for a family-style meal plan, starting with preparing the antipasti, the traditional first course of a formal Italian meal.
Sophie’s “Having A Night” podcast co-host, Ari, came bearing a few dozen fresh oysters while her dad sought the best ribeyes and grilled them. A friend down the road made the cakes.