|The cover that got |
her noticed, 1943
This request led her into a fairytale romance and varied career on screen and stage. At 19, the studio molded her persona, changing her name from Betty Perske to Lauren Bacall and developing The Look, that lowered stare and voice that became her trademark. Her first film To Have and Have Not costarred Humphrey Bogart, who was 25 years older and struggling in a tumultuous marriage. Her sparkling screen debut was unforgettable:
YouTube Video: http://youtu.be/vyerVtcER5U; © Warner Brothers
Despite their age difference, she and Humphrey Bogart fell in love. (Can't you tell?) They married in 1945, had two kids, and made three other great movies together – The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, and Key Largo – before Humphrey Bogart died in 1957.
|Yes, I still have my playbill.|
I was so lucky to see Lauren Bacall in person once. In 1999, she was on stage in Boston's Colonial Theatre costarring with Rosemary Harris in Noel Coward's Waiting in the Wings before it went to Broadway. At the time, I felt elated to be in the same room with her. She won two Tonys in her career, for Applause in 1970 and Woman of the Year in 1981.
By Myself (which won a National Book Award) and Now. They introduced me to Betty Perske, a shy, funny girl with lots of guts. I was hooked from the early pages of By Myself, where she relived the thrill of being in an elevator with her idol Bette Davis. These books are fantastic – refreshingly candid, honest, and well written. (We were practically friends by the time I finished reading.) By Myself follows Betty as she's swept into Hollywood and goes along for the ride, with wonder, determination, perseverance, and grace. Now continues her journey, spotlighting earned confidence, experience, and wisdom. Put these on your reading lists.
Lauren Bacall was more than The Look and the wife of Humphrey Bogart. In her profession and in life, she always strove for more – learning, growing, and speaking her mind. I will miss hearing that voice.
You can see some of Lauren Bacall's films on TCM this week! Starting Monday, September 15, at 8 p.m., eastern, my favorite cable channel will be celebrating this classy lady with a 24-hour tribute that will wrap up on what would have been her 90th birthday (September 16). Enjoy it! (And, if you don't get that channel, stock up your Netflix queue.)