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Bette Midler to play Mae West in HBO biopic

Bette Midler returned to Broadway in John Logan's

Bette Midler returned to Broadway in John Logan's "I'll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers" in spring 2013 at the at the Booth Theatre in Manhattan. Credit: Jonathan Pushnik

Bette Midler will star as Mae West in an HBO Films biography being directed by Oscar-winner William Friedkin., which first reported the news, said Harvey Fierstein was writing the script, based on the bawdy film star's 1959 autobiography, "Goodness Had Nothing to Do With It."

Brooklyn-born actress, singer, playwright and screenwriter West pushed the boundaries of censorship in her day, most famously with the 1926 Broadway comedy-drama "Sex."

Police raided the play and she was sentenced on "morals charges" to spend 10 days in prison.

The notoriety helped spur her career, and she became a famed comedian in films such as "She Done Him Wrong", "I'm No Angel" and "My Little Chickadee", opposite W.C. Fields.

With memorable bon mots like, "It's not the men in your life . . . it's the life in your men," she lasted decades as what the film critic Molly Haskell called "a self-parodying sex symbol." Her final film was the starring vehicle "Sextette" in 1978. She died two years later at age 87.

Singer-actress Midler, 68, earned Oscar nominations for "The Rose" (1979) and "For the Boys" (1991). She most recently starred with Billy Crystal in last year's "Parental Guidance" and on Broadway as Hollywood agent Sue Mengers in "I'll Eat You Last."

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