In an exclusive interview with Closer Weekly, Bette Midler opens up about meeting with Carol Channing to prepare for her starring role in a Broadway reboot of Hello, Dolly!

“Channing was absolutely extraordinary,” Bette, 70, told Closer at the New York Restoration Project’s spring picnic. “I drove down to her ranch. It took me three hours and it was worth every single minute.”

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Over the course of their three-hour meeting, Carol, who is still vibrant at 95, told humorous stories about her time on Dolly. “Carol recalled how the costume person would dry her wigs in the same oven where their dinner was cooked — as a result the wigs gave off a horrible fish stench,” a closer friend of Carol’s tells Closer. “Bette was in hysterics!”

carol channing getty images

Carol in January 2014.

“She told me stories about the inception of the show Hello, Dolly!,” Bette reveals to Closer. “They were two years on the road creating this piece.”

The two leading ladies even sang a little together. “They were singing and humming a song together that Carol’s dad sang to her when she was a little girl,” confides the friend. “It was a really touching moment.”

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“Carol told Bette that she thinks she will be fabulous in the role,” the friend tells Closer. “It was definitely a lovefest between the two. These two women greatly admire each other.”

For more on Bette Midler and Carol Channing’s meeting, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now!