Manny P. here…
Lauren Betty Bacall was Hollywood royalty, at one time married to Humphrey Bogart, and later, to Jason Robards. She became a part-time fashion model. Howard Hawks’ wife spotted her in a very small picture in Vogue and urged Hawks to have her take a screen test for To Have and Have Not. Her meeting with the star led to a screen couple known simply as Bogie and Bacall. A tune was written about their legendary love, appropriately called Key Largo. LAUREN BACALL —–>
Hawks asked his secretary to find out more about her, but the secretary misunderstood and sent her a ticket to Hollywood for the audition. He signed her to a seven-year personal contract and brought her to Hollywood. During screen tests for To Have and Have Not, Bacall was nervous. To minimize her quivering, she pressed her chin against her chest and to face the camera, tilted her eyes upward. This effect became known as The Look, Bacall’s trademark. Through her storied career, she appeared with Bogie in four more motion pictures, including The Big Sleep, Dark Passage (left), Key Largo, and a cameo in Two Guys in Milwaukee.
She also starred with Charles Boyer in Confidential Agent; Kirk Douglas and Doris Day in Young Man with a Horn; Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable in How to Marry a Millionaire; Clifton Webb and Van Heflin in Woman’s World; John Wayne in Blood Alley; Richard Widmark in The Cobweb; Rock Hudson in Written in the Wind; Henry Fonda, Tony Curtis, and Natalie Wood in Sex and the Single Girl; Paul Newman in Harper; Albert Finney, Sean Connery, and Ingrid Bergman, among others in Murder on the Orient Express; and once again, John Wayne in his final film, The Shootist. Though nominated, she surprisingly never won a competitive Academy Award in her sparkling career. Bacall also notably became the off-screen voice for Turner Classic Movies.
Lauren used her star-power for personal political causes. She and Bogart led a contingent of actors to Washington to fight against the persecution of artisans accused of belonging to Communist organizations. Their group called itself the Committee for the First Amendment, and testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee. She campaigned for Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 Presidential election, and for Robert Kennedy in his 1964 run for Senate.
On Broadway, she shined in Cactus Flower, Applause, the musical based on the movie All About Eve, Goodbye Charlie, and Woman of the Year. On a personal note, the first stage play I ever saw as a young man was Applause. Betty Bacall helped me develop a lifetime love for musical theatre.
Over the decades, her pals included Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn (a friendship that began during the location filming of The African Queen), Frank Sinatra, Swifty Lazar, and Louella Parsons. Gregory Peck became a close confidante during the production of Designing Women, which was made as Bogart’s health declined. He died before the film was completed. Betty also became friends with historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and journalist Alistair Cooke.
Bacall received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1997. Two years later, she was voted one of the 25 most significant female movie stars in history by the American Film Institute. Bacall was selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to receive an Honorary Oscar. The award was presented at the inaugural Governors Awards in 2009.
She was ever protective of the Bogart legacy, lashing out at those who tried to profit from his image. In 1997, she appeared at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood for ceremonies launching the US Postal Service’s Humphrey Bogart stamp.
An undeniable movie star of the highest order (she defined the term), the actress taught a whole generation of movie-goers to whistle. Lauren Bacall was 89.
Until next time> “never forget”