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Famous Like Me > Singer > B > Lauren Bacall

Profile of Lauren Bacall on Famous Like Me

Name: Lauren Bacall  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 16th September 1924
Place of Birth: New York, New York, USA
Profession: Singer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Lauren Bacall (born 16 September 1924) is an American film and stage actress and a former model. Known for her husky voice and sultry looks, she became a fashion icon and role model for modern-day women early in her career. She was married to and appeared in movies with Humphrey Bogart. She is a cousin of Shimon Peres, the former Prime Minister of Israel.

Lauren Bacall

Life and career

Early stages

Born in New York City as Betty Joan Perske, the only child of Jewish immigrants, William Perske (born in Poland) and Natalie Weinstein-Bacal (born in Romania). Her parents were divorced when she was six years old. As a result, she no longer saw her father, and she formed a strong bond with her mother who she later took with her to California after working on Broadway.

Bacall first studied dance for 13 years. She had a dream of dancing with Fred Astaire. However, this was never accomplished. She then studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, along with Kirk Douglas. She had a crush on Douglas, who was 24 and eight years older than her at the time, and although (in Bacall's words) "he wanted to teach me everything he knew about 'sex'," she rejected his advances. During this time she became a theater usher, where she was inspired by the performances.

She made her acting debut, as Betty Bacall, on Broadway in 1942, in Johnny Two by Four (her stage name is derived from her mother's Romanian maiden name (Bacal)). At that time her idol was the actress Bette Davis, she recalled that she had wanted to be "the Bette Davis of the theater".

She then began to model part-time. While modelling in a garment center, her fellow models began to talk about religion. After being asked what religion she was, she told them that she was Jewish. She then felt that they had acted differently towards her. Later, when she first went to Hollywood, she noticed that director Howard Hawks would make derogatory remarks about Jews. This made her nervous of anti-semitism, and she did not let Hawks know at the time that she was Jewish, something that she says she has come to regret in the years since.

A career on the stage was what Bacall had envisaged for herself, but she entered the world of movies almost by chance. After Howard Hawks' wife (whom Hawks nicknamed "Slim") spotted Bacall on the cover of Harper's Bazaar, she showed the photo to her husband, and he then made a phone call to New York to bring her to Hollywood for a screen test. Hawks would use the nickname "Slim" for Bacall's character in her first movie To Have and Have Not.

The Breakthrough

Hawks gave her several screen tests, teaching her to speak in a lower tone. Not liking the name Betty, he gave her the first name Lauren. She was nervous in front of the camera, so Hawks suggested that she tilt her head a little and pull her hair over one side of her face. This became known as The Look, Bacall's sensual trademark.

She met Humphrey Bogart on the set of her first film, To Have and Have Not (1944). After three or four weeks, their feelings for each other started to be revealed when Bogart kissed her goodnight after a days shooting. This slightly startled Bacall, and after this, despite a 25-year difference in age, she could not stop thinking about him. Bogart was then married to Mayo Methot. Confused by the situation, Bacall confided in her mother, who wanted her to stay away from him, but she then began to see Bogart off the set. Bogart did not like his lovers to have prominent careers, so Bacall was willing to alter her career to spend time with him.

Bacall contacted Hal Wallis to ask him to check out Kirk Douglas while he was in New York. Douglas then had a small part in a Broadway play. Wallis liked what he saw and brought him to Hollywood. As a result, Douglas made his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946, opposite Barbara Stanwyck).

The 20-year old Bacall made worldwide headlines, and created a sensation, on a visit to the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on (10 February 1945). Her press agent (Charlie Enfield, chief of publicity at Warner Brothers) asked her to sit on the piano which was being played by the Vice-President of the United States Harry S. Truman as a publicity stunt. The photos of the incident caused somewhat of a scandal, and even Truman’s wife Bess was upset about it. Bacall has said that she still gets sent picture postcards of this event to this day.

After To Have and Have Not, she appeared with Bogart in The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947), and Key Largo (1948). Their off-screen romance is obvious in love scenes in To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep.

Armed Forces Radio Services broadcaster Jack Brown interviews Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall for broadcast to troops overseas during World War II.

The 1950s to the 1980s

On May 21, 1945, Bacall married Humphrey Bogart. Their wedding and honeymoon took place at Malabar Farm, Mansfield, Ohio (the country home of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield, a close friend of Bogart). At the time of their marriage, Bacall was 20 and Bogart was 45. They remained married until Bogart's death from cancer in 1957. Bogart usually called Bacall "Baby", even when referring to her in conversations with other people. After the filming of The African Queen in 1951, Bacall and Bogart became great friends of Bogart's co-star Katherine Hepburn and her partner Spencer Tracy. Bacall also began to mix in non-acting circles, becoming friends with the historian Arthur Schlesinger and the journalist Alistair Cooke. In 1952, she gave campaign speeches for the (unsucessful) Democrat Presidential contender Adlai Stevenson (on whom she allegedly had a "school-girl" crush).

After Bogart's death in 1957, Bacall had an affair with singer and actor Frank Sinatra, who (in his words) "wanted to take care of her." However, knowing of Sinatra's reputation as a womanizer, she had known that he was unlikely to have been faithful to her. She told Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies (TCM) in an interview, that because of this, she had ended the romance. However, in her autobiography, she wrote that Sinatra had become angry that the story of his proposal to Bacall had reached the press (Bacall and her friend Swifty Lazar had run into the gossip columnist Louella Parsons, to whom Lazar had spilled the beans). Sinatra then "dropped the curtain," cutting Bacall off completely and going to Las Vegas.

She was later married to the actor Jason Robards from 1961 until their divorce in 1969, due to Robards' alcoholism. She is the mother of two sons, news producer, documentary film maker, and author Stephen Bogart and actor Sam Robards as well as one daughter, Leslie Bogart, who became a nurse and yoga therapist.

Bacall was known to eagerly turn down scripts she didn´t find interesting. This was rarely heard of for a young female film star and got her a reputation among studio executives that she was difficult to deal with. She continued to get favorable reviews for her leads in a string of films, such as 1950´s Young Man with a Horn, co-starring Doris Day and Kirk Douglas, and 1953 How to Marry a Millionaire, where she was teamed up with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable, as well as Written on the Wind, directed by Douglas Sirk in 1956.

In 1955, she co-starred with John Wayne in Blood Alley. She also would co-star with Wayne in his last picture, The Shootist, in 1976. Like Bogart, Wayne was dying of cancer when he made his last film, and Bacall saw the signs and the parallels. During the filming of Blood Alley, Bacall reported that she was terrified of Wayne. However, 20 years later, during the filming of The Shootist, Bacall became attracted to Wayne, albeit platonically, even though Wayne was far to the right, a staunch conservative, and Bacall was on the far left, a liberal. Although political polar opposites, there was common ground between them and a common attraction (Wayne, like Bogart, loved being out on his yacht, and had a love of the sea).

In the 1960s, Bacall´s movie career waned, and she was only seen in a handful of films. Her saving grace, however, was on Broadway. Her Broadway roles include Goodbye, Charlie in 1959, Cactus Flower in 1965, Applause in 1970 and Woman of the Year in 1981. She won a Tony Award for her performances in the musicals Applause and Woman of the Year. For her work in the Chicago theatre, she won the Sarah Siddons Award in 1972 and again in 1984.

Later Stages

In 1980, she was living in The Dakota, a building of townhouses in New York City. She was in her bedroom on the night of 8 December. Thinking she had heard a car exhaust backfire, she looked out of the window and saw nothing. She later learnt that her friend and neighbor John Lennon had been shot and killed.

She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role in The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996), for which she had already won a Golden Globe. She received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1997. Since then, her movie career has seen a new renaissance and she has given strong performances in some important recent movie projects such as Dogville in 2003 and Birth in 2004.

Lauren Bacall has written two autobiographies, Lauren Bacall By Myself (1978) and Now (1994). In 2005, Bacall updated and renamed her autobiography By Myself and Then Some.

In 1999, she was voted one of the 25 most significant movie stars in history by the American Film Institute. She has said that "absolutely" two of her favorite films to make were Designing Woman with Gregory Peck and The Shootist.

In 2004, Bacall started appearing in advertisements for the Tuesday Morning discount store franchise.

See also: the Bogart and Bacall section in the Humphrey Bogart article.


Famous movie quotes

From To Have and Have Not (1949): "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 is known for speaking her mind, like her friend Katharine Hepburn, she says what she thinks.

On Harry S. Truman's piano playing

From an interview with Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne:

  • "...badly, playing the Missouri Waltz, or something."

On Howard Hawks

Of Mr. Hawks, Bacall told Larry King on CNN:

  • "He was a svengali. He wanted to mold me. He wanted to control me. And he did until Mr. Bogart got involved."

On Frank Sinatra

She told Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne:

  • "He was a womanizer, he wanted to be in the sack with everybody."

She said of Sinatra to Larry King:

  • "Well, his attention span was not long, shall we say."

On being a Democrat

From the Larry King interview:

  • BACALL: "I'm a total Democrat. I'm anti-Republican. And it's only fair that you know it. Even though..."
  • KING: "Wait a minute. Are you a liberal?"
  • BACALL: "I'm a liberal. The L word!"
  • KING: "Egads!"

On Nicole Kidman

From the Associated Press on Nicole Kidman:

  • "She's not a legend," Bacall said. "She can't be a legend at whatever age she is...You have to be older."

From the Larry King interview:

  • KING: "I'm told the media tried to stir up a fuss when you took issue with a reporter describing Nicole Kidman as a legend. You worked together in "Dogville" and the film "Birth," and the legend label was used by a British morning show hostess. And you said she's not a legend, she's a beginner."
  • BACALL: "God, if the press ever quoted anyone correctly, it would be brilliant."
  • KING: "Straighten it out."
  • BACALL: "I love Nicole. Nicole and I happen to be very great friends. Besides that, the press never get it straight. They do not print what you say."
  • KING: "You can't get it wrong here. What did you mean?"
  • BACALL: "Well, number one, this is what happened. We were in Venice for "Birth" at the Venice Film Festival. And you know when you have a day when you go from one room to another with the roundtables with about five journalists sitting around at each table throwing questions at you all the time. So in one of these rooms, I'm sitting there. And one of the journalists said "you're an icon, and Nicole Kidman's an icon, and what do you think about that?". And I said: "Why do you have to burden her with the category? She's a young woman. She's got her whole career ahead of her. Why does she have to be pegged as an icon or as anything? Let her enjoy her time. Don't, you know, suddenly put her in a slot". And that was all I said. The word "legend" never came up. It was "icon" to begin with. And, of course, Nicole was there. And she says, you know the press. Because my only interest was that she was not hurt or that she did not misunderstand."

On Tom Cruise

She slammed Tom Cruise in the 8 August 2005 issue of Time Magazine:

  • "When you talk about a great actor, you're not talking about Tom Cruise. His whole behavior is so shocking. It's inappropriate and vulgar and absolutely unacceptable to use your private life to sell anything commercially, but, I think it's kind of a sickness."


  • To Have and Have Not (1944)
  • Confidential Agent (1945)
  • Two Guys from Milwaukee (1946) (Cameo)
  • The Big Sleep (1946)
  • Dark Passage (1947)
  • Key Largo (1948)
  • Young Man with a Horn (1950)
  • Bright Leaf (1950)
  • How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
  • Woman's World (1954)
  • 1955 Motion Picture Theatre Celebration (1955) (short subject)
  • The Cobweb (1955)
  • Blood Alley (1955)
  • Written on the Wind (1956)
  • Designing Woman (1957)
  • The Gift of Love (1958)
  • North West Frontier (1959)
  • Shock Treatment (1964)
  • Sex and the Single Girl (1964)
  • Harper (1966)
  • Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
  • The Shootist (1976)
  • The Fan (1981)
  • HealtH (1982)
  • Appointment with Death (1988)
  • Mr. North (1988)
  • John Huston: The Man, the Movies, the Maverick (1989) (documentary)
  • Tree of Hands (1989)
  • Misery (1990)
  • A Star for Two (1991)
  • All I Want for Christmas (1991)
  • A Foreign Field (1993)
  • Ready to Wear (1994)
  • The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)
  • My Fellow Americans (1996)
  • Day and Night (1997)
  • Diamonds (1999)
  • The Venice Project (1999)
  • Presence of Mind (1999)
  • The Limit (2003)
  • Dogville (2003)
  • Birth (2004)
  • Howl's Moving Castle (2004) (voice in English dubbed version)
  • Manderlay (2005)
  • These Foolish Things (2005) (currently in post-production)
  • Firedog (2005) (voice) (currently filming)

Books by Lauren Bacall

  • By Myself (1978)
  • Now (1994)
  • By Myself and Then Some (2004)

Awards and Nominations

  • 1970 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Applause
  • Sarah Siddons Award (1972 & 1984)
  • 1980 National Book Award for Best Non-Fiction Book, By Myself
  • 1981 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Woman of the Year
  • 1997 Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, The Mirror Has Two Faces
  • 1997 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, The Mirror Has Two Faces
  • 1997 Academy Award Nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, The Mirror Has Two Faces
  • 2000 Stockholm Film Festival, Lifetime Achievement Award

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Lauren Bacall