- New York 08/12/2014 by Linda Perry, Bogart Estate and LaurenBacall.com (WBAI)
"You know how to whistle don't you Steve. You put your lips together and blow."
So went a famous line from one of the Bogart-Bacall Films, To Have and Have Not (1944). This was Bacall's first Hollywood film and the beginning of one of filmdom's greatest love stories between Bogie and Bacall.
On Tuesday evening the estate of Humphrey Bogart confirmed that Lauren Bacall has died. She was 89 years old.
On twitter they wrote, "With deep sorrow, yet with great gratitude for her amazing life, we confirm the passing of Lauren Bacall."
Actors Equity said, "Today our hearts are with Lauren Bacall’s family and friends. She was quite a force on stage and screen and will never be forgotten."
Bacall died at home at the Dakota, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
A website, LaurenBacall.com tells the story of her upbringing, rise to stardom, and her numerous awards. Here's an excerpt:
Bacall was the only daughter of Jewish immigrants, William Perske (a relative of former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres) and Natalie Weinstein-Bacal was born in New York City. She was named Betty Joan Perske. Her close friends called her Betty.
As a schoolgirl, Betty was enthralled with Betty Davis, probably because they bore the same name, and was enamored of Leslie Howard. According to her autobiography, By Myself and Then Some, she was always very self-conscious about the size of her feet, which she describes as big even for a woman of her exceptional height.
Preparing the Groundwork
Despite her thoughts of demeaning herself, she won “Miss Greenwich” of 1942. Her first ambition was to be a dancer, but decided instead to go into acting. She was inspired by the movies she enjoyed watching with her friends.
After high school, she enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. She stayed in the Academy for a year and was able to have some insignificant roles in off-Broadway productions. Her first stage appearance was January Two by Four (1942)
At the end of the term, she did not continue her studies in the Academy because her mother could no longer afford the tuition. So Betty entered the world of modeling which was limited only to display clothes to customers in the showroom. Her height, figure and look were her assets for a modeling career.
After quitting showroom modeling, she worked as an usher in one of Broadway’s theaters and she was voted as the Prettiest Usher of the 1942 season. She was 17 when she met and became a close friend of Gregory Peck. She was an usherette at the time. Their closeness remained until his death.
The First Step to Stardom
Bacall was the cover girl for Harper’s Bazaar. Howard Hawks saw the picture and urged her husband to give this cover girl a screen test. The test was a success.
She changed her name from Betty to Lauren and adapted her mother’s maiden family name, but added another L. Howard Hawks complained about her high nasal voice so she spent two weeks training her voice. When she reported back to work two weeks later, she now had a deep husky voice.
Director Hawk made her choose either Cary Grant or Humphrey Bogart as her leading man. Bacall wanted to work with Cary Grant, but Hawks finally offered the role to Humphrey who became her first leading man in the film To Have or Have Not. (1944).
Hollywood Romance of Bogart and Bacall
Humphrey “Bogie” Bogart and Bacall were married on May 21, 1946 at the Pleasant Valley area of Richmond County, Ohio. The venue was at the residence of Pulitzer winning author Louis Bromfield. She was 20 and he was 45. She became a widow at age 32 when Bogart passed away from cancer in 1957.
Their union started a successful series of Bogart-Bacall movies: The Big Sleep (1946), The Dark Passage (1947), and Key Largo (1948). She prioritized her marriage over career so she made only one picture a year; movies were anticipated eagerly and well- accepted by movie-goers.
Films Coolest Couple
Their popularity was even extended to the name given to a kind of muscle tension dysphonia common in professionals who are always using their voices. It was named the “Bogart-Bacall Syndrome (BBS). They enjoyed their team and even ran a syndicated radio program called “Bold Venture”. It was on the air from 1951-52, where Lauren named herself Sailor Duval.
Lauren made other films with other actors. Among which were: Confidential Agent (1945) with Charles Boyer, Bright Leaf (1950) with Gary Cooper, Young Man with a Horn (1950) with Doris Day and Kirk Douglas, Blood Alley (1950) with John Wayne, How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) with Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe. Written in the Wind (1956) with Rock Hudson and Dorothy Malone and The Designing Woman (1957) with Gregory Peck.
Between 1980-90, Lauren appeared in: The Fan (1981), Robert Altman’s Health (1980), Michael Winner’s Appointment with Death (1988), and Rob Reiner’s Misery (1990). Bacall got a nomination as Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for the film, The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996). After more than 50 years in her career, this was to be her first Oscar, but the award went to The English Patient star, Juliette Binoche. She already won a Golden Globe.
She was one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History for 1995. In 1997, she got the 11th place as the top 100 Movie Stars of all times.
Among Lauren’s other awards were: the Kennedy Center Honors in 1997; and In 1999, The American Institute voted her as one of the 25 most significant female movie stars in history.
Her performances in these projects were well received: Dogville (2003) and Birth (2004), both with Nicole Kidman. She was one of the stars in Paul Schrader's 2007 movie The Walker.
In September 2006, Bacall was the first star to ever receive the Katharine Hepburn Medal, which recognizes "women whose lives, work and contributions embody the intelligence, drive and independence.” It was presented at the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center.
Here is the TCM Tribute to Lauren Bacall