Lauren Bacall was an American actress that was notable for her sophisticated-classic look combined with her distinctive sultry voice.
She was known as the 20th Greatest Female Star of Classic Hollywood cinema, awarded by the American Film Institute. In addition, she was also recognized for her central place in the Golden Age of motion picture and was awarded an Academy Honorary Award in 2009.
Betty Joan Perske, known as Lauren Bacall, was born on September 16, 1924, in The Bronx, New York City. Bacall was born to a Jewish family and was the only child of Natalie and William Perske. At an early age of five, her parents were divorced. Since then, she never saw her father, resulting in her close bond with her mother.Growing up, she later took her mother’s last name, Bacall.
In 1941, her interest in theatre brought her at the American Academy in Dramatic Arts. She took lessons regarding theatre while working as an usher and fashion model. At the age of 17, she made her debut on Broadway in the year 1942.
In 1943, she appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, as well as in Vogue Magazine, after Diana Vreeland, a fashion columnist, discovered her. Following the appearance of Lauren Bacall on a magazine’s cover, Nancy Hawks referred Bacall to her husband, Howard Hawks, a Hollywood director.
Life in Hollywood
Hawks offered a seven-year contract to Bacall after meeting her in Hollywood. He personally managed her career and changed her first name to ‘Lauren,’ thus making her screen name Lauren Bacall. Throughout the initial journey of Bacall in Hollywood, Nancy Hawks supported her. She even guided Bacall on dressing and, in the matter of being elegant and sophisticated. She also trained Bacall to change her natural high-pitched voice to a lower and deeper register. Bacall’s low and deep voice was later on characterized as a sexual growl or throaty purr that became Bacall’s trademark.
In 1944, during Lauren’s screen tests for the film ‘To Have and Have Not,’ she was so nervous that she developed the habit of pressing her chin on her chest while looking at the camera. This look she made added an effect to her personality and her sultry voice, which came to known as ‘the look.’
The movie ‘To Have and To Have Not’ made Bacallan instant star. Warner Bros. even made a marketing campaign promoting Bacall as a movie star. On February 10, 1945, Lauren Bacall visited the National Press Club as a part of the public relationsmade by the campaign.
In 1945, Lauren Bacall faced possible damage to her career in the film, ‘Confidential Agent’ which was poorly received by the critics. However, in her 1946 film, The Big Sleep, made a quick revival to her career.
In her next films, Bacall was cast with Humphrey Bogart, including the ‘Dark Passage’ in 1947, and on a melodramatic suspense movie ‘Key Largo’ in 1948. In the 1950s, Bacall’s status was further solidified. However, she earned a reputation of being difficult after turning down scripts she did not find interesting. Bacall also starred in a comedy film ‘How to Marry a Millionaire.’ This 1953 film, starring Lauren Bacall along with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable, earned favorable praise from the critics, and a runaway hit at the box office.
From the year 1954 up to the year 1959,many films came for Lauren Bacall. Some of this was The Cobweb (1955), Blood Alley (1955), Designing Woman (1957), Gift of Love (1958), and an adventure film ‘North West Frontier’ which was a box-office hit in 1959.
In the following years, Bacall was seen only in the few films, including Sex and the Single Girl (1964), Harper (1966), and Murder on the Orient Express (1974). Also, Bacall appeared in the film ‘The Shootist’ along with John Wayne in 1976 and on ‘Blood Alley’ in 1955.
Relationship and Marriage
Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart were married on May 21, 1945, in Lucas, Ohio. They met on the set of Bacall’s first film ‘To Have and Have Not,’ in 1944. Although Bogart was married to an American actress, Mayo Methot, Bacall and Bogart began a romantic relationship just several weeks while shooting the 1944 film. Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart had two children and were married until Bogart died in 1957.
In July 1961, Lauren Bacall married Jason Nelson Robards Jr., an American film and TV actor. In December 1961, Bacall gave birth to Robards’ son, Sam Robards. However, later in the year 1969, Bacall divorced with Robards because of his alcoholism.
One month after her birthday, Bacall died in August 2014 at the age of 89 years old. She suffered from a severe stroke and was confirmed dead at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
Her bulk estate of about USD 26.6 million was divided among her children: Leslie Bogart, Stephen Bogart, and Sam Robards. In addition, an amount of USD 250,000 was left to each of his grandsons’ education.
Here are some of Lauren Bacall’s films:
To Have and Have Not (1944)
Confidential Agent (1945)
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)
North West Frontier (1955)
The Cobweb (1955)
Blood Alley (1955)
Designing Woman (1957)
The Gift of Love (1958)
Sex and the Single Girl (1964)
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
The Shootist (1976)
The Fan (1981)
Appointment with Death (1988)
Ready to Wear (1994)