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Life and career
Lauren Bacall (born 16 September 1924) is a Jewish American film and stage actress. She is also a former fashion model. Known for her comedic skills and husky voice, as well as her sultry looks, she became a fashion icon and role model for modern-day women early in her career. Also known for her marriage to, and movies with, husband Humphrey Bogart. She is also a cousin of Shimon Peres, former Prime Minister of Israel.
Born in New York City as Betty Joan Perske, the only child of Jewish immigrants from Poland and Romania. Her parents got divorced when she was six years old, and she would not see her father. She would develop a very strong relationship with her mother. Her mother moved with her to California when she moved to film from Broadway.
Bacall first studied dance, something she did for 13-years, and had a dream of dancing with Fred Astaire, something she never got to do. She then studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, with Kirk Douglas.
She had a crush on Douglas, who was 24 and eight years older than her 16 at the time, and although he wanted to, "teach me everything he knew about 'sex'," she was scared and rejected his advances. During this time she became a theater usher to earn money, and watch the performances.
She made her acting debut, as Betty Bacall, on Broadway in 1942, in Johnny Two by Four. Her stage surname is derived from her mother's Romanian maiden name. Her idol was Bette Davis, she wanted to be the Bette Davis of theater.
She started modeling part-time to pay the bills. While modeling in the garment center one day, the models started talking about religion, and when they ask her what she "was", and she told them that she was Jewish, she felt that they acted different toward her. Later, when she first went to Hollywood, she noticed that director Howard Hawks would make off-color remarks about Jews; this made her nervous, and she did not let Hawks know at the time that she was Jewish, something that she says she has come to regret in the many years since.
Bacall wanted a career on the stage, that was her life's dream. However, Hawks' wife was reading the magazine Harper's Bazaar that featured Bacall on the cover, who was earning a living modeling while waiting for her stage career to take off. Mrs. Hawks, Slim (the nickname of the character in To Have and Have Not), showed the photo to her husband and he made a phone call to New York to bring her to Hollywood for her screen test.
Hawks gave her several screen tests, taught her to speak in a lower tone, and not liking the name Betty, gave the first name of 'Lauren'. She was so scared in front of the camera that Hawks had her drop her head a little and pull her hair over one side of her face. This caused her to look with her eyes, something that would be called "The Look", and become a sensual trademark.
She met Humphrey Bogart on the set of her first movie, To Have and Have Not (1944). After three of four weeks their feelings for each other started to change, the first time she knew that Bogart was interested in her was when he came into her dressing room at the end of the day’s shooting and said, "goodnight", she said, "goodnight" back, he then lifted her chin and kissed her.
This was something he had never done before, and it startled her. After that, despite a 25-year difference in age, she could not stop thinking about him, but he was married to Mayo Methot. Confused, she confided in her mother, who wanted her to stay away from him, but she started seeing him off the set. Bogart wanted a wife first, not an actress first, and she was willing to alter her career to spend time with him.
She insisted that Hal Wallis check out Kirk Douglas while he was in New York. Douglas had a small part in a Broadway play. Wallis liked what he saw and brought him to Hollywood, the result was that Dougals made his film debut in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946; opposite Barbara Stanwyck).
A 20-year old Bacall made worldwide headlines, and created a sensation, when on a visit to the National Press Club in Washington D.C. (10 February 1945) her press agent (Charlie Enfield, chief of publicity at Warner Brothers), had her sit on a piano, one that the Vice-President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, happened to be playing.
The photos of the incident  caused somewhat of a scandal with the prim-and-proper, and even Truman’s wife, Bess, was upset about it. Bacall says that she still gets postcards photos of the event to this day.
After To Have and Have Not, she also appeared with Bogart in The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947), and Key Largo (1948). If you watch the love scenes in "To Have and Have Not" and "The Big Sleep" you can really see the romance blossoming.
The Fifties to The Eighties
Bacall was married to Humphrey Bogart from 1945 until his death from cancer in 1957, at the time of their marriage she was 20 and Bogart was 45. Katharine Hepburn and Bacall, as well as Spencer Tracy and Bogart, became great friends after the filming in 1951 of The African Queen (with Bogart and Hepburn).
She became great friends with Arthur Schlesinger and Alistair Cooke in 1952, and gave campaign speeches for Adlai Stevenson. She also had a "school-girl" crush on Stevenson, something Bogart let her indulge in because of her age.
After Bogart's death Bacall had an affair with singer and actor Frank Sinatra who "wanted to take care of her," but she knew that he was a womanizer, and would never be faithful to her.
She told Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies (TCM) in an interview that because of this she ended the romance, but in her book she writes that after Sinatra proposed, and later when the press released the story, he got mad at her and "dropped the curtain", cutting her off completely, and went to Las Vegas.
She was later married to the actor Jason Robards from 1961 until their divorce in 1969, because of his addiction to alcohol. She is the mother of two sons, news producer, documentary film maker, and author Stephen Bogart and actor Sam Robards, and one daughter, Leslie Bogart, who became a nurse and yoga therapist.
In 1955 she co-starred with John Wayne in Blood Alley, she would also co-star with Wayne in his last picture, The Shootist, in 1976. Like Bogart, Wayne was dying of cancer when he made his last film, and Bacall saw the signs and the parallels. In Blood Alley she was "terrified of him", but, now it was different.
She found that she was very attracted to him, although she had a hard time understanding why. Wayne was about as far to the right, politically as staunchly conservative, as one could get, while she was over on the far left, a liberal. Although political polar opposites, still there was a common ground, and a common attraction. Wayne, like Bogart, also loved being out on his yacht, being on the sea, every chance he could get.
In 1980 she was living in the Dakota, a building of townhouses in New York City. She was in her bedroom on the night of 8 December, with her dog (she always has a dog, now it is Sophie), and she heard what she thought was a car exhaust backfire. She looked out the window and saw nothing. A few minutes later when she turned on the 11:00 p.m. news she learned that her friend and neighbor John Lennon had been shot and killed.
She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role in The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996). She received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1997.
Bacall's Broadway stage roles have included Goodbye, Charlie in 1959, Cactus Flower in 1965, Applause in 1970 and Woman of the Year in 1981. She won a Tony Award for her portrayal of "Margo Channing" in the musical Applause (a musical version of the classic movie All About Eve.
She says that "absolutely" two of her favorite films were Designing Woman, a rare comedy for her, and The Shootist.
Lauren Bacall has written two autobiographies, Lauren Bacall By Myself (1978) and Now (1994). In 2005, Bacall decided to revamp her books by updating and renaming the sole autobiography By Myself and Then Some.
In 2004, Bacall started appearing in advertisements for the Tuesday Morning discount store franchise.
See also: the Bogart and Bacall section in the Humphrey Bogart article.
Famous movie quotes
From To Have and Have Not (1949): "You know you don't have to act with me, Steve. 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."
Bacall is known for speaking her mind, like her friend Katharine Hepburn, she says what she thinks.
On Harry S. Truman's piano playing
From an interview with Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne:
"...badly, playing the Missouri Waltz, or something."
On Howard Hawks
Of Mr. Hawks, Bacall told Larry King on CNN:
"He was a svengali. He wanted to mold me. He wanted to control me. And he did until Mr. Bogart got involved."
On Frank Sinatra
She told Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne:
"He was a womanizer, he wanted to be in the sack with everybody."
She said of Sinatra to Larry King:
"Well, his attention span was not long, shall we say."
On being a Democrat
From the Larry King interview:
BACALL: "I'm a total Democrat. I'm anti-Republican. And it's only fair that you know it. Even though..."
KING: "Wait a minute. Are you a liberal?"
BACALL: "I'm a liberal. The L word!"
On Nicole Kidman
From the Associated Press on Nicole Kidman:
"She's not a legend," Bacall said. "She can't be a legend at whatever age she is. ... You have to be older."
From the Larry King interview:
KING: "I'm told the media tried to stir up a fuss when you took issue with a reporter describing Nicole Kidman as a legend. You worked together in "Dogville" and the film "Birth" and the legend label was used by a British morning show hostess. And you said she's not a legend, she's a beginner."
BACALL: "God if the press ever quoted anyone correctly it would be brilliant."
KING: "Straighten it out."
BACALL: "I love Nicole. Nicole and I happen to be very great friends. Besides that, the press never get it straight. They do not print what you say."
KING: "You can't get it wrong here. What did you mean?"
BACALL: "Well, number one, this is what happened. We were in Venice for "Birth" at the Venice Film Festival. And you know when you have a day when you go from one room to another with the roundtables with about five journalists sitting around at each table throwing questions at you all the time. So in one of these rooms, I'm sitting there. And one of the journalists said, you're an icon and Nicole Kidman's an icon and what do you think about that?
And I said, why do you have to burden her with the category? She's a young woman. She's got her whole career ahead of her. Why does she have to be pegged as an icon or as anything? Let her enjoy her time. Don't, you know, suddenly put her in a slot. And that was all I said. The word "legend" never came up. It was "icon." To begin with. And, of course, Nicole was there. And she says, you know the press. Because my only interest was that she was not hurt or that she did not misunderstand."
On Tom Cruise
She slammed Tom Cruise in the 8 August 2005 issue of Time Magazine:
"When you talk about a great actor, you're not talking about Tom Cruise. His whole behavior is so shocking. It's inappropriate and vulgar and absolutely unacceptable to use your private life to sell anything commercially, but I think it's kind of a sickness."
To Have and Have Not (1944)
Confidential Agent (1945)
Two Guys from Milwaukee (1946) (Cameo)
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)
1955 Motion Picture Theatre Celebration (1955) (short subject)
The Cobweb (1955)
Blood Alley (1955)
Written on the Wind (1956)
Designing Woman (1957)
The Gift of Love (1958)
North West Frontier (1959)
Shock Treatment (1964)
Sex and the Single Girl (1964)
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
The Shootist (1976)
The Fan (1981)
Appointment with Death (1988)
Mr. North (1988)
John Huston: The Man, the Movies, the Maverick (1989) (documentary)
Tree of Hands (1989)
A Star for Two (1991)
All I Want for Christmas (1991)
A Foreign Field (1993)
Ready to Wear (1994)
The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)
My Fellow Americans (1996)
Day and Night (1997)
The Venice Project (1999)
Presence of Mind (1999)
The Limit (2003)
Howl's Moving Castle (2004) (voice in English dubbed version)
These Foolish Things (2005) (currently in post-production)
Firedog (2005) (voice) (currently filming)
Books by Lauren Bacall
By Myself (1978)
By Myself and Then Some (2004)
Awards and Nominations
1970 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Applause
1980 National Book Award for Best Non-Fiction Book, By Myself
1981 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Woman of the Year
1997 Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, The Mirror Has Two Faces
1997 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, The Mirror Has Two Faces
1997 Academy Award Nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, The Mirror Has Two Faces
2000 Stockholm Film Festival, Lifetime Achievement Award
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