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Lauren Bacall

  • Birthplace: New York, New York
  • Birthday: September 16
Date of passing: 
August 12, 2014

Lauren Bacall was an actress who broke into movies during Hollywood’s classic era and went on to become an icon for generations of moviegoers. Although her career spanned seven decades, Bacall is perhaps best remembered for her first film, the 1944 release To Have and Have Not, opposite screen legend Humphrey Bogart — who later became her husband.

Lauren Bacall was an actress who broke into movies during Hollywood’s classic era and went on to become an icon for generations of moviegoers. Although her career spanned seven decades, Bacall is perhaps best remembered for her first film, the 1944 release To Have and Have Not, opposite screen legend Humphrey Bogart — who later became her husband.

Born Betty Joan Perske in New York City, she took the second half of her mother’s maiden name, Weinstein-Bacal, as a child, following her parents’ divorce. She later added the second L to avoid mispronunciation. Howard Hawks, who directed her in To Have and Have Not, is said to have given her the name Lauren prior to the film’s release.

After graduating from high school she studied acting at the New York School of the Theater and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In addition, to help her family’s finances, she began modeling.

Her life changed when legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland put her in Harper’s Bazaar magazine. In the photo, Bacall was standing in front of a window bearing the words “American Red Cross Blood Donor Service.” The striking image drew inquiries from Hawks, as well as powerful producers that included David O. Selznick and Howard Hughes. Soon afterward, at age 18, she left for California to pursue film work.

To Have and Have Not made her a star, cemented, perhaps, when she uttered some of the most famous dialogue in American film, from a script by Jules Furthman and William Faulkner.

Her character, Marie "Slim" Browning, flirting with Bogart's Harry "Steve" Morgan, says, “You know you don’t have to act with me, Steve. You don’t have to say anything, and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”

Bacall and Bogart wed in 1945 and remained married until his passing in 1957. (She was later married to actor Jason Robards from 1961 to 1969.)

She went on to appear in dozens of other movies, including The Big Sleep and Key Largo with Bogart, as well as How to Marry a Millionaire, Written on the Wind, Designing Woman, Murder on the Orient Express, The Shootist, Prêt-à-Porter, The Mirror Has Two Faces (earning an Oscar nomination) and, later, two with Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier, Dogville and Manderlay.

In addition, she made many television appearances, beginning in the 1950s with anthology series such as Producers' Showcase, Ford Star Jubilee and DuPont Show of the Week. In the years that followed, she had guest roles on series that included Dr. Kildare and The Rockford Files — the latter of which brought her an Emmy nomination in 1980. She was also nominated in 1973 for her performance in the made-for-TV movie Applause, an adaptation of the Broadway hit (for which she won a Tony Award) based on the classic film All About Eve. A third Emmy nom came in 1988 for the "Bacall on Bogart" episode of the PBS series Great Performances.

In 2010 she received an honorary Oscar, "In recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures."

Bacall died on August 12, 2014, in New York. She was 89.


 

 

 

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