Movies and Entertainment

Bette Midler Officially Sets the Record Straight on That ‘Hocus Pocus' Quote Debate

Is it "Hello, Salem" or "Hello, sailors"? At the "Hocus Pocus 2" premiere, Bette Midler clarified how she kicks off the film's iconic "I Put a Spell On You" number after confusing the internet last week

"Hocus Pocus 2" Premiere - Arrivals
Kristina Bumphrey/Variety via Getty Images

Bubble, bubble, we're in trouble -- because it turns out we haven't been incorrectly quoting "Hocus Pocus" this entire time.

At Sept. 27's "Hocus Pocus 2" premiere, Bette Midler, who plays Winifred Sanderson in the beloved classic, put rumors of a misquote to rest.

"Salem, not sailors!" she clarified, referencing her greeting that prefaced the film's iconic "I Put A Spell On You" performance. "Why would I say 'Hello, sailors'? No, no, it's Salem -- 'Hello, Salem.'"

Midler went on to quip that "sailors" wouldn't make any sense because "there's no water there." Well, that's one mystery solved.

All this hocus pocus first began running amok on Sept. 23 when Midler herself incorrectly quoted the film on Instagram, writing, "Hello sailors. My name's Winifred, what's yours?" But fans of the film couldn't help but notice the supernatural slip-up. "Wait... it's sailors not Salem??" one viewer wrote, while another quipped that they were "today years old when I learned she says 'Sailors' instead of 'Salem.'"

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Clearly, viewers are still very invested in the film nearly 30 years later -- and Midler explained why she thinks fans remain so active despite the time gap between the 1993 original and this year's sequel, which both star Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as Winifred's wacky witch siblings.

"It's very sweet," she said of the Halloween classic. "Even though they're killers, it's so sweet. There's something about the bond between the sisters."

Plus, Midler said she loves the "looney" side characters most of all, calling them "crazier than the witches!"

It was Midler herself who pushed to resurrect the Sanderson Sisters for a sequel after noticing the film's ongoing popularity, even being called to dress up as Winifred for charity galas throughout the years.

"As I watched it progress, I'd call the studio once a year to ask, 'How about it?'" she recalled to Entertainment Weekly Sept. 13. "It wasn't until about three years ago that they advocated for it, and movement started."

Watch the magic happen when "Hocus Pocus 2" premieres on Disney+ Sept. 30.

Bette Midler spoke with Access Hollywood at the premiere of “Hocus Pocus 2” and how excited she is for the film to come out, nearly 30 years after the original film. She also shares her first impressions of when she initially met her co-stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy years ago.
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