Lauren Bacall passed away on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 in Manhattan and the world mourns another legend gone
According to Variety, the star died from a suspected stroke in Manhattan. When she was with Humphrey Bogart, she gave birth to children Stephen and Leslie Bogart, and later had one son, Sam, with Jason Robards.
Bacall was known for her deep, raspy voice and piercing eyes. And her love affair with Bogart, a relationship she treasured after he died of throat cancer in 1957. Son Stephen once told People, "He was the great love of her life, and she his."
They were married shortly after the dissolution of his third marriage—she was just 20. Bogey and Bacall starred in To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, and Key Largo during their time together.
To say she walked among the greats is a bit of an understatement. And she became a great when People magazine named her one of the "50 Most Beautiful People" in 1997 at the age of 72.
Not to mention calling Katharine "Katie" Hepburn a dear friend. She also starred with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable in How to Marry a Millionaire, where she managed to steal the show as gold-digger Schatze Page and made that third billing seem like the top name on the marquee.
Born Betty Joan Perske, the actress helped create the Old Hollywood siren role in To Have and Have Not where she snared Bogey on- and off-screen.
"You just put your lips together—and blow" is still quoted in movies with a copycat low register.
During the 1979 memoir book tour for By Myself, she told People magazine, "You can't acquire a voice. Either you have it or you don't." And that goes beyond the spoken, practiced and measured ability.
She simply had it.
Lauren Bacall had no problems telling the truth of a situation. She didn't look in the mirror and see the brave, strong woman the audience. In fact, she claimed just the opposite. "I never thought I was a tough cookie at all."
She did admit that it was hard being a Jewish woman in the middle of Hollywood in the 40s and 50s. Hollywood wasn't too keen on non-Christians during World War II and held little respect for differences. The Americana spirit was in full swing and the child of Jewish immigrants didn’t fit the view.
But at 19, she still managed to hold her head up and not collapse. A preview of what was to come.
When Hollywood balked at the political activism, she carried on with a lack of fear of repercussions. It might have damaged her career, in some manner, but it seemed to strengthen the core of who she was, too. Variety notes "her independent streak caused her to be suspended from Warners no fewer than seven times."
Fighting for quality of roles wasn't a mistake. She simply wouldn't take less than what she deserved. And honored her mother’s by taking a form of her Romanian mother’s name, dropping Peske entirely when her father disappeared after the divorce.
Lauren also fought the legend label pretty hard, too. She wrote in Now (1995), another memoir, "I’m called a legend by some, a title and category I am less than fond of.” Oops, but how else do you refer to a great actress who inspired multiple generations?
And managed to solidify a career for over seven decades—even earning a Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for 1997's The Mirror Has Two Faces as Barbra Streisand’s mother. While the Academy somehow never managed to honor a single role, they did present a 2009 Governors Award for lifetime achievement.
As for that sultry Look that stopped traffic, turned more than a few heads, and is often imitated but not quite duplicated?
"I used to tremble from nerves so badly that the only way I could hold my head steady was to lower my chin practically to my chest and look up at Bogey."
People asked the New York native which sex is stronger: women or men? With absolute certainly, she replied, "Women. We have much more character, a greater sense of honor and conviction."
Even if traditional, old-fashioned Bogey had created a fuss, she still would have attempted to conquer the theater regardless. Tough cookies don't back down.
And she earned two Tonys for Applause (1970) and Woman of the Year (1981) for that adventurous spirit. There can never be any doubt that she gave everything possible to whatever role she chose to portray.
As for a public and private life, she deferred to Bogey's advice here. "All an actor owes the public is a good performance."
The world's lost a great friend, actress, beauty, and inspiration. May Bacall join Bogey and meet up with old friends in celebration of a life well-lived and well-loved.