Bette Midler Settles the Debate About One of Her Most Famous ‘Hocus Pocus’ Scenes


“Hocus Pocus” fans are finally getting clarity about one of the fantasy flick’s most famous quotes — almost 30 years after its release.

Fans rewatch the beloved 1993 Halloween film every year, but recently they have started debating if Bette Midler’s character Winifred says “Hello, Salem” or “Hello, sailors” to the crowd after singing the introduction to “I Put A Spell On You” in the movie.

At the premiere for the sequel “Hocus Pocus 2,” which will be released on Disney+ on Sept. 30, Midler ended the debate once and for all.

“Salem, not sailors!” she told E! News on the red carpet. “Why would I say ‘Hello, sailors?’ No, no, it’s Salem — ‘Hello, Salem.’” 

She added, “There’s no water there. Is there? There might be.” 

(Salem, Massachusetts, is on the Atlantic coast but the scene is indoors and there do not appear to be any sailors in the audience.)

During her grand performance of “I Put A Spell On You” in the film, Midler cheers, “Hello Salem! My name’s Winifred, what’s yours?”

But, fans questioned if they had been misquoting her for years when the “Hello, Dolly!” star posted on Instagram about the upcoming sequel and originally wrote, “Hello sailors!” in the caption.

Her post has since been updated with the real quote. She wrote that autocorrect was responsible for the mistake and quipped in the edited version, “don’t mess with this witch!”

Winifred will be reunited with her sisters Sarah and Mary, played by Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy in the family-friendly movie. 

Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy in “Hocus Pocus.”Alamy

The two joined Midler at the premiere in New York City at AMC Lincoln Square Theater on Sept, 27. Parker also invited her husband, Matthew Broderick and their 13-year-old twins, Tabitha and Marion, to the party.

Parker’s character Sarah and the other Sanderson sisters return in the sequel after three young girls reawaken them by lighting the black flame candle. According to a new trailer released earlier this month at the D23 Expo, Doug Jones will reprise his role from the original movie as well. 

In “Hocus Pocus 2,” the three young girls will have to face off against the Sanderson sisters and stop their wicked ways. 

When introducing the clip at the event, Disney Chairman Alan Bergman said the sequel, “exists thanks to the overwhelming love all of you have here for the Sanderson sisters.” 


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