Lauren Bacall

  • Born: September 16, 1924
  • Died: August 12, 2014
  • Location: Los Angeles, California

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This March 7, 2010 file photo shows actress Lauren Bacall backstage during the 82nd Academy Awards in Los Angeles. Bacall, the sultry-voiced actress and Humphrey Bogart's partner off and on the screen, died Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 in New York. She was 89. (AP Photo/Vince Bucci, FIle)

Actress has died at age 89

HILLEL ITALIE, The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Lauren Bacall had one of those incredible lives.

The wife and co-star of Humphrey Bogart. A Tony Award-winning actress. A National Book Award-winning author. A giant of fashion. A friend of the Kennedys. One of the last survivors of Hollywood's studio age.

A star almost from the moment she appeared on screen to the day she died, Tuesday, at age 89, at a New York City hospital.

"Stardom isn't a career," Bacall once observed, "it's an accident."

What a lucky accident it turned out to be.

Her career was one of great achievement and some frustration. The actress received a Golden Globe and an honorary Oscar and appeared in scores of film and TV productions. But not until 1996 did she receive an Academy Award nomination — as supporting actress for her role as Barbra Streisand's mother in "The Mirror Has Two Faces." Although a sentimental favorite, she was beaten by Juliette Binoche for her performance in "The English Patient."

Bacall would outlive her first husband by more than 50 years, but never outlived their legend, which began in their first movie together, "To Have or Have Not," when she uttered to Bogart among the sultriest lines in Hollywood history (in part because of that come-hither delivery): "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."

They were "Bogie and Bacall" — the hard-boiled couple who could fight and make up with the best of them. They were A-list glamour and B-movie danger. Unlike Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, Bogart and Bacall were not a story of opposites attracting but of kindred, smoldering spirits. She was less than half Bogart's age, yet as wise, and as jaded, as he was. They threw all-night parties, laughed at the snobs, palled around with Frank Sinatra and others and formed a gang of California carousers known as the Holmby Hills Rat Pack.

After Bogart's death, she continued to forge her own distinct path. On television, in films, in her books, she was blunt, sardonic, demanding, loyal. Pity anyone who knocked Bogart, crossed one of her friends or voted Republican.

Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske in the Bronx, the daughter of Jewish immigrants. Her parents divorced when Betty was 8, and the mother took part of her family name, Bacal. (Betty added the extra L when she became an actress.)

At first she dreamed of becoming a dancer, but thought herself too "gawky" and acting became her ambition. She studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and played a few walk-on roles in Broadway plays. Diana Vreeland, the famed editor of Harper's Bazaar, recognized the slender, long-limbed actress as ideal for fashion modeling. The wife of film director Howard Hawks recommended her for movies, and Bacall went to Hollywood under a contract. "To Have and Have Not" came out in 1944.

In "By Myself," she wrote of meeting Bogart:

"There was no thunderbolt, no clap of thunder, just a simple how-do-you-do."

She was 19 and on her first day of shooting, her hands were shaking so much that she couldn't manage a simple scene of lighting a cigarette. Hawks helped by breaking the scene into short takes.

"I realized that one way to hold my trembling head still was to keep it down, chin almost to my chest and eyes up at Bogart. It worked, and turned out to be the beginning of 'The Look,'" she later wrote.

Work led to romance. The quarter century age difference (he called her "Baby") failed to deter them, but Bogart was still married to his third wife, the mercurial actress Mayo Methot. She was persuaded to divorce him in Reno, and the lovers were married on May 21, 1945.

Bogart and Bacall made three more movies together, and bantered best in the classic adaptation of Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep." She took time out to bear two children, and to accompany her husband as they roughed it in Africa for "The African Queen," co-starring Bogart and Hepburn. She also became active politically, joining Bogart in protesting the Hollywood blacklist of suspected Communists and campaigning for Democrats. Few could forget the picture of her slouched on top of a piano, legs bare and dangling, while Harry Truman (then vice president) was seated in front of the keys.

But the party began to wind down in 1956, when Bogart was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. For the next 10 months, his wife rarely left home in the evening. She organized late-afternoon cocktail parties where such friends as Sinatra, David Niven, Hepburn and Tracy buoyed Bogart's spirits with jokes and gossip.

On the night of Jan. 14, 1957, Bogart grabbed his wife's arm and muttered, "Goodbye, kid." He died in the early morning at the age of 57.

"At the time of his death, all I wanted, I think, was to believe that my life would continue," she told The Guardian in 2005.

Bacall had a brief, disastrous engagement to Sinatra and a troubled, eight-year marriage to Jason Robards Jr., with whom she had a son. Professionally, she thrived on the stage and remained busy in films. She won Tonys for the Broadway musicals "Applause" and "Woman of the Year," the latter a 1981 production in which she revived the role immortalized by her friend Hepburn on screen. Meanwhile, she was memorably obstinate in an all-star film adaptation of Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express," co-starred with longtime friend Anjelica Huston in "Mr. North," and in recent years appeared as herself in a brief cameo for "The Sopranos," in which she curses out a robber and is rewarded with a punch in the face.

In the 1940s, Bacall became friends with William Faulkner when he was writing scripts for Hawks. One of her prized possessions was a copy of Faulkner's Nobel Prize acceptance speech on which he wrote that she was not one who was satisfied with being just a pretty face, "but rather who decided to prevail."

"Notice he didn't write 'survive,' " she told Parade magazine in 1997. "Everyone's a survivor. Everyone wants to stay alive. What's the alternative? See, I prefer to prevail."

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AP film writer Jake Coyle contributed to this story. Biographical material in this story was written by The Associated Press' late Hollywood correspondent, Bob Thomas.
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Celebrities reflect on Lauren Bacall's legacy

The Associated Press, The Associated Press

Celebrity colleagues and friends of Lauren Bacall shared their reactions to her death Tuesday at age 89:

— "Betty Bacall; not only was she part of my father's past but she was a magnificent part of my own life, and a huge influence on me. I'm so glad that in the last few years when I was living in New York City, I was able to live across the street from the Dakota and visit with her. Her spirit was undiminished and her beauty will live on forever. Now she's back with Bogie." — Angelica Huston, in a statement.

— "What a terrible loss for us all. First, Robin (Williams), who was a genius, and now Lauren. It was my privilege to have known her, to have acted with her, and to have directed her. And, most of all, to have had her as a wise and loving friend." — Barbra Streisand, in a statement.

— "She was a great, uplifting lady who was full of talent and fun. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with her. I will miss her dearly." — James Caan, in a statement.

— "She was a great friend to my family and especially to me. We all loved her, as she was one of a kind. I'll miss her very much." — Liza Minnelli, in a statement.

— "I had the amazing opportunity to work with Lauren Bacall in the movie 'Diamonds.' She was one of a kind." — Jenny McCarthy, on Twitter.

— "Lauren Bacall's life is a life to be celebrated. I am told her last performance was on 'Family Guy.' For that, we are forever honored and privileged. Thank you, Lauren, for teaching us all how to whistle." — Seth MacFarlane, in a statement.


Condolence & Memory Journal

Candle

I have precious memories with her on my boat, like the time we went sailing and she fell out of the boat but never, ever dropped her beer. Wishing you wind in your sails and calm seas in your journey. See you again some day.

Posted by Ray St. Pierre - Edgartown, MA - laundry man and living friend   September 23, 2014

Candle

My thoughts and prayers are with you, my pet. I always love you, my pet.

Posted by Neil Chop - in mu own aprtment, MA - friend   August 21, 2014

Candle

A beautiful life has come to end,
Love respected whatever you went,
Always so thoughtful, loving and kind,
What a beautiful memory you left behind.

Posted by Ed Carter - in my apartment, Chester, NH - admirer   August 21, 2014

Candle

Your love is still alive in us
We see it ever knew,
Our mornings filled with happiness
By memories of you.

Posted by Karen Nescot - Lititz, PA   August 21, 2014

Candle

Our live will go without you
But things are not the same,
It's hard to hide the heartache
When someone speaks your name.

Posted by Janet Walls - 67 aSHFORD Drive, PA - sister   August 21, 2014

Your love is still alive in us,
We see it ever new,
Our mornings feel with happiness,
By memories of you.

Posted by John Panneton - in my own house, VA - friend   August 21, 2014

What an incredible woman. Loved the movies. Lived APPLAUSE. I opened the door for Miss Bacall in Chicago. An honor. They're all gone now. So sad. I'll miss her a lot!

Posted by Donald Emery - Bluffton, SC - fan   August 19, 2014

Candle

Just whistle. Bogie and Bacall what a team to whistle for. A wonderful time it was, a bit before mine but late night movies caught me up.

Posted by Elaine moore - Los Angeles, CA - Late night movies..   August 18, 2014

Candle

I will miss 'Betty' terribly--one of the last grande dames of the Golden Age of Hollywood. "You do know how to whistle, don't you, Steve?" The rest is Hollywood history at its finest. Rest In Peace, my dear.

Posted by Richard Mills - NYC, NY - Longtime Fan   August 18, 2014

I was sad to learn of your passing, you will be missed very much. There are not many people that were as talented as you and had such a big heart, now you are with your love of your life and in your death, be at peace.

Posted by Martha Ann Hatch - Crystal, MN - a very big fan   August 18, 2014

Praying for her family and She was a great Actress. I Loved her movies that she started it.

Posted by Joy Callahan - Palmetto, GA - fan   August 17, 2014

Candle

Needless to say, Lauren Bacall was one of the great beauties of film. I loved all her movies, especially the ones she did with her beloved Bogey. But, my favorite is 'The Fan'. It wasn't the best movie ever made and it didn't do the book justice since the ending was changed, but, Ms. Bacall shined like the star she was and will always be. She wasn't a singer, but when she sings 'Hearts and Diamonds', my heart just bursts with joy. Bless her heart and may she rest in peace with her beloved Bogey.

Posted by Donna DeMaio - New Haven, CT - A grateful fan   August 17, 2014

Ms. Bacall, as I was rushing with my shopping cart in a New York City gourmet shop, I almost hit your shopping cart. Imagine how pleasantly startled I was when I came to a screeching halt, looked up and saw you. As I apologized and stepped back to make room for you, you almost annoyingly extended your arm and said, "No, go ahead", as if to say, "Since you're in such a hurry". However, there was a look of curious amusement in your eyes. As I left the small market you half smilingly locked eyes with me and I, thrilled, smiled back.
I didn't dare approach you. I respected you too much for that. Thank you for "To Have And Have Not'' and for being at the market at the same time as I. God Bless and God Speed on your journey to Bogie and to the Angels. Albina

Posted by Albina Vurro - Manhattan, NY - A great fan and admirer   August 14, 2014

Candle

How you must love being back in Bogey's arms. Thanks for sharing your amazing acting gifts with all of us.

Posted by Suzanne Tamiesie - Mountain View, CA - Admirer   August 14, 2014

Candle

My prayers go out to Betty's family and friends .My thanks go out to Betty for the many years of wonderful entertainment that she has provided us with in film and on stage . Hollywood has lost a legend and Bogie has been reunited with the love of his life . RIP Betty , you will be definitely missed on this plane of existence .

Posted by Laurie Denegar - West Easton, PA - fan   August 14, 2014

My heart go out to the family of the beautiful Lauren Bacall, she will be missed, thank u Lauren for your on-screen talent,you touched me in a special way, luv and peace gorgeous.

Posted by Joe Rivers - Miami, Gardens, FL - a big classic movie fan   August 14, 2014

What a wonderful lady of the stage & screen. Will be missed. Kim

Posted by Kim Libera - Middletown, CT - fan   August 13, 2014


Family Album

Lauren Bacall posing with her honorary Oscar following The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 2009 Governors Awards. (AP file photo)
This March 7, 2010 file photo shows actress Lauren Bacall backstage during the 82nd Academy Awards in Los Angeles. Bacall, the sultry-voiced actress and Humphrey Bogart's partner off and on the screen, died Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 in New York. She was 89. (AP Photo/Vince Bucci, FIle)
Lauren Bacall is presented the Governor's Award during the 82nd Academy Awards Sunday, March 7, 2010, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Actress Lauren Bacall, center, recipient of an honorary award at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 2009 Governors Awards, poses with her daughter Leslie Bogart, left, and son Stephen Humphrey Bogart, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Filmmaker Roger Corman, left, actress Lauren Bacall, center, and cinematographer Gordon Willis pose onstage with their honorary Oscars at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 2009 Governors Awards, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
This Oct. 12, 1955 file photo shows actors Humphrey Bogart, left, and his wife, Lauren Bacall at the premiere of "The Desperate Hours," in Los Angeles. Bacall, the sultry-voiced actress and Humphrey Bogart’s partner off and on the screen, died Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 in New York. She was 89. (AP Photo/Harold Filan, FIle)

Family Album

This Jan. 23, 1993 file photo shows actress Lauren Bacall holding up her Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement as she holds hands with actor Anthony Hopkins backstage at the 50th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. Bacall, the sultry-voiced actress and Humphrey Bogart’s partner off and on the screen, died Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 in New York. She was 89. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)
This 1965 file photo shows actress Lauren Bacall at her home in New York. Bacall, the sultry-voiced actress and Humphrey Bogart’s partner off and on the screen, died Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 in New York. She was 89. (AP Photo, File)