Lauren Bacall: Death of a Hollywood Legend

Lauren Bacall: Death of a Hollywood Legend

Lauren Bacall, the Hollywood legend who wooed, fell in love with, and married fellow screen icon, Humphrey Bogart, died in August 2014 at the age of 89. The versatile actress had an impressive career that spanned seventy years and included prolific film, TV, and stage roles. Her death occurred on Tuesday, August 12 at her New York City home as the result of a massive stroke, according to her family. Though the iconic actress and model achieved many highlights in her life and career, Bacall was often best known for her epic love story with Bogart, as well as the iconic movie line she uttered in their first film together, the 1944 classic To Have and Have Not: “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together, and blow.”

That innuendo-filled line not only cemented Bacall as a screen siren for the ages, but was also later named among the greatest lines in the history of cinema by the American Film Institute (AFI). The couple’s four films together proved to be very successful and have become much beloved, classic films over the years. Moreover, the movies they created together are part of the legend and lore that is Bogie-Bacall. The pair’s four films included To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947), and Key Largo (1948).

Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924, in New York City. She was the daughter of Romanian and Polish Jewish immigrants. Her family was middle-class and her parents divorced when she was very young. While still in school, Bacall trained to be a dancer, then switched to acting and studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York after high school. During this time, she was able to secure roles in some off-Broadway productions. It is fitting that Bacall would also die in New York City, the home of her birth and place she considered her home.

Upon graduation, Bacall started her professional career as a model and appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, which was a household name among magazines in the U.S. at the time. As a result of this exposure, famed director Howard Hawks became aware of the ingenue via his wife and arranged to have Bacall screen test for To Have and Have Not. This collaboration resulted in not only a legendary screen pairing but a Hollywood epic romance for the ages. Moreover, it was during the filming of the 1944 classic that Bacall’s famous nickname as “The Look” was established.

Lauren Bacall Hollywood Movies

Bogie and Bacall were known for their push-pull dynamic and polar opposite personalities. The couple had their share of spats over the years, due to their conflicting natures. Bogart enjoyed his solitude, while Bacall was known as a social butterfly. However, the legendary pair were crazy about each other, shared an intense love and bond, and made a very happy life together. In fact, those who knew them best have often remarked how Bogie and Bacall were the great loves of each other’s lives.

The couple married in 1945, following a turbulent period during which Bogie and Bacall were carrying on a torrid affair. In 1949, the couple had a son, Stephen, who was named after Bogart’s character in To Have and Have Not, followed by a daughter, Leslie, in 1952. The enduring pair was often known to use their character’s names from the film (‘Slim’ and Steve) as pet names. In 1956, Bacall also proved to be a steady and supportive mate when Bogart was stricken with esophageal cancer, due to his heavy smoking and drinking. Bacall stood by him through his cancer fight, several surgeries, and various other treatments. Bogart ultimately lost his cancer battle and passed away in January 1957. He had wasted away to only 80 pounds at the time of his death.

Following Bogart’s death in 1957, it was revealed that a devastated Bacall had engaged in a fling and subsequent engagement to close family friend, Frank Sinatra, which the Rat Packer promptly backed out of after the screen siren’s announcement to the media. The Hollywood legend went onto marry and later divorced another fellow screen legend, actor Jason Robards. In 1961, this union resulted in another son, actor Sam Robards.

Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall died on August 12 in New York City at the age of 89, following a massive stroke. Now, Bogie and Bacall are reunited and she is surely whistling to him in heaven. Bacall’s storied 70-year career and epic love story with Bogart has left an indelible mark on Hollywood and inspired lovers for generations. While “The Look” has passed from the living, her spirit and legacy will remain among the Hollywood greats, as will the legendary love story of Bogie and Bacall.

By Leigh Haugh

Los Angeles Times
U.S. News and World Report

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