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Lauren Bacall
Lauren bacall promo photo.jpg
Bacall in the 1940s
Born Betty Joan Perske
(1924-09-16)September 16, 1924
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
Died August 12, 2014(2014-08-12) (aged 89)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Cause of death
Occupation Actress, model
Years active 1942–2014
Height 5 ft 8 12 in (1.74 m)[2]
Children 3 including Sam Robards
Academy Awards
AFI Awards
AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars, 1999
Signature LaurenBacall.png

Lauren Bacall (/ˌlɔrən bəˈkɔːl/, born Betty Joan Perske; September 16, 1924 – August 12, 2014) was an American actress known for her distinctive husky voice and sultry looks. She began her career as a model.[1]

She first appeared as a leading lady in the Humphrey Bogart film To Have and Have Not (1944) and continued on in the film noir genre, with appearances in Bogart movies The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947), and Key Largo (1948), as well as comedic roles in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) with Marilyn Monroe and Designing Woman (1957) with Gregory Peck. Bacall worked on Broadway in musicals, earning Tony Awards for Applause in 1970 and Woman of the Year in 1981. Her performance in the movie The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) earned her a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination.

In 1999, Bacall was ranked 20th out of the 25 actresses on the AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars list by the American Film Institute. In 2009, she was selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to receive an Academy Honorary Award "in recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures."[3]

Bacall died on August 12, 2014, at the age of 89. According to her grandson Jamie Bogart, the actress died after suffering from a stroke.[1]

Early life[edit]

Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924, in The Bronx, New York,[4][5] the only child of Natalie (née Weinstein-Bacal), a secretary who later legally changed her surname to Bacall, and William Perske, who worked in sales.[6] Both her parents were Jewish. According to Bacall's own statement, her mother emigrated from Kingdom of Romania through Ellis Island, and her father was born in New Jersey, to parents who were born in Vistula Land, in the Russian Empire.[7][8]

Bacall was educated at the expense of wealthy uncles at a private boarding school founded by philanthropist Eugene Heitler Lehman, named The Highland Manor Boarding School for Girls,[9] in Tarrytown, New York, and at Julia Richman High School in Manhattan.[10]

Through her father, she was a relative of Shimon Peres (born Szymon Perski), the ninth President of Israel.[11][12][13] Peres has stated, “In 1952 or 1953 I came to New York... Lauren Bacall called me, said that she wanted to meet, and we did. We sat and talked about where our families came from, and discovered that we were from the same family... but I’m not exactly sure what our relation is... It was she who later said that she was my cousin, I didn’t say that".[11] Her parents divorced when she was five; she later took the Romanian form of her mother's last name, Bacall.[14] She no longer saw her father and formed a very close bond with her mother, who came to live in California after Bacall became a movie star.[15][16]



Bacall in her first movie, To Have and Have Not with Humphrey Bogart, 1944

As a teenage fashion model she appeared on the cover of Harper's Bazaar (the cover has since been described as 'iconic'),[17] as well as in magazines such as Vogue.[18] She was noted for her "cat-like grace, tawny blonde hair and blue-green eyes".[19]

Bacall on the March 1943 cover of Harper's Bazaar

In 1941, Bacall took lessons at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where she was classmates with Kirk Douglas,[20] while working as a theatre usher and fashion model.[4]

She made her acting debut on Broadway in 1942, at age 17, as a walk-on in Johnny 2 X 4. According to Bacall's autobiography, she and a girlfriend won an opportunity in 1940 to meet her idol Bette Davis at Davis's hotel. Years later, Davis visited Bacall backstage to congratulate her on her performance in Applause, a musical based on the film All About Eve in which Davis had starred. Davis told Bacall, "You're the only one who could have played the part."[21]

While she was working as a fashion model, Howard Hawks' wife Nancy spotted her on the cover of Harper's Bazaar magazine.[22][23] and urged Hawks to have her take a screen test for To Have and Have Not. Hawks had asked his secretary to find out more about her, but the secretary misunderstood and sent her a ticket to Hollywood for the audition.[23]

Hawks signed her to a seven-year personal contract, brought her to Hollywood, gave her US$100 salary a week, and began to manage her career. Hawks changed her first name to Lauren, and Perske adopted "Bacall", a variant of her mother's maiden name, as her screen surname. Nancy Hawks took Bacall under her wing.[24] Nancy dressed Bacall stylishly and guided her in matters of elegance, manners and taste. Bacall was trained to make her voice lower, and deeper due to Hawks' suggestion since she naturally had a high-pitched, nasal voice. As part of her training, she was required to shout verses of Shakespeare for hours every day.[25][26] When Hawks brought her to Hollywood, he had her lower the pitch of her voice under the tutelage of a voice coach.[27] In To Have and Have Not, Bacall's character used Nancy Hawks' nickname "Slim" and Bogart used Howard Hawks' nickname "Steve".[22]


Bacall and Bogart in Dark Passage

During her screen tests for her first film To Have and Have Not (1944), Bacall was nervous that to minimize her quivering, she pressed her chin against her chest and to face the camera, tilted her eyes upward.[28] This effect became known as "The Look", and became Bacall's trademark.[29]

On the set, Humphrey Bogart, who was married to Mayo Methot, initiated a relationship with Bacall several weeks into shooting and they began seeing each other. On a visit to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on February 10, 1945, Bacall's press agent, chief of publicity at Warner Bros. Charlie Enfield, asked the 20-year-old Bacall to sit on the piano which was being played by Vice-President of the United States Harry S. Truman.[30][31]

After To Have and Have Not, Bacall was seen opposite Charles Boyer in Confidential Agent (1945), which was poorly received by the critics. She appeared with Bogart in the films noir The Big Sleep (1946) and Dark Passage (1947) and John Huston's melodramatic suspense film Key Largo (1948) with Bogart and Edward G. Robinson. She was cast opposite Gary Cooper in Bright Leaf (1950).


Bacall turned down scripts she did not find interesting and thereby earned a reputation for being difficult. For her leads in a string of films, she received favorable reviews. In Young Man with a Horn (1950), co-starring Kirk Douglas, Doris Day, and Hoagy Carmichael, Bacall played a two-faced femme fatale. This movie is often considered the first big-budget jazz film.[citation needed]

During 1951–1952, Bacall co-starred with Bogart in the syndicated action-adventure radio series Bold Venture. In 1953, Bacall starred in the CinemaScope comedy How to Marry a Millionaire, a runaway hit.[32] Billed third under Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable, Bacall got positive notices for her turn as the witty gold-digger, Schatze Page.[33] According to her autobiography, Bacall declined[why?] the coveted invitation from Grauman's Chinese Theatre to press her hand- and footprints in the theatre's cemented forecourt at the Los Angeles premiere of the film.[34]

32-year-old Bacall with Rock Hudson in Written on the Wind, 1956

In 1955, a television version of Bogart's own breakthrough film, The Petrified Forest, was performed as a live installment of Producers' Showcase, a weekly dramatic anthology, featuring Bogart as Duke Mantee, Henry Fonda as Alan, and Bacall as Gabrielle, the part originally played in the 1936 movie by Bette Davis. Bogart had no problem performing his role live since he had originally played the part on Broadway with the subsequent movie's star Leslie Howard, who had secured a film career for Bogart by insisting that Warner Bros. cast him in the movie instead of Edward G. Robinson; Bogart and Bacall named their daughter "Leslie Howard Bogart" in gratitude.[citation needed]

In the late 1990s, Bacall donated the only known kinescope of the 1955 performance to The Museum Of Television & Radio (now the Paley Center for Media), where it remains archived for viewing in New York City and Los Angeles.[35]

Written on the Wind, directed by Douglas Sirk in 1956, is now considered a classic tear-jerker.[36] Appearing with Rock Hudson, Dorothy Malone and Robert Stack, Bacall played a career woman whose life is unexpectedly turned around by a family of oil magnates. Bacall wrote in her autobiography that she did not think much of the role. While struggling at home with Bogart's battle with esophageal cancer, Bacall starred with Gregory Peck in Designing Woman.[37] It was directed by Vincente Minnelli and released in New York on May 16, 1957, four months after Bogart's death on January 14.

Bacall in the 1950s

Bacall appeared in two more films in the 1950s: the Jean Negulesco-directed melodrama The Gift of Love (1958), which co-starred Robert Stack, and the adventure film North West Frontier (1959), which was a box office hit.[38]

1960s and 1970s[edit]

Bacall's movie career waned in the 1960s, and she was seen in only a handful of films. On Broadway she starred in Goodbye, Charlie (1959), Cactus Flower (1965), Applause (1970) and Woman of the Year (1981). She won Tony Awards for her performances in the latter two.[39]

The few films Bacall made during this period were all-star vehicles such as Sex and the Single Girl (1964) with Henry Fonda, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood; Harper (1966) with Paul Newman, Shelley Winters, Julie Harris, Robert Wagner and Janet Leigh; and Murder on the Orient Express (1974), with an all-star cast, including Ingrid Bergman, Albert Finney, Vanessa Redgrave, Martin Balsam and Sean Connery. In 1964, she appeared in two episodes of Craig Stevens's Mr. Broadway: first in "Take a Walk Through a Cemetery", with then husband, Jason Robards, Jr.,[citation needed] and later as Barbara Lake in the episode "Something to Sing About", co-starring future co-star Balsam.[40]

For her work in the Chicago theatre, Bacall won the Sarah Siddons Award in 1972 and again in 1984. In 1976, she co-starred with John Wayne in his last picture, The Shootist. The two became friends, despite significant political differences between them. They had previously worked together in Blood Alley (1955).[41]

Later career[edit]

During the 1980s, Bacall appeared in the poorly received star vehicle The Fan (1981), as well as some star-studded features such as Robert Altman's Health (1980) and Michael Winner's Appointment with Death (1988). In 1990, she had a small role in Misery, which starred Kathy Bates and James Caan. In 1997, Bacall was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role in The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996), her first nomination after a career span of more than fifty years.[3] Bacall had already won a Golden Globe and was widely expected to win the Oscar, but lost in an upset to Juliette Binoche for The English Patient.

Bacall received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1997.[42] In 1999, she was voted one of the 25 most significant female movie stars in history by the American Film Institute. Her movie career saw something of a renaissance and she attracted respectful notices for her performances in high-profile projects such as Dogville (2003) and Birth (2004), both with Nicole Kidman. She was a leading actor in Paul Schrader's The Walker.[43]

Her commercial ventures in the 2000s included being a spokesperson for the Tuesday Morning discount chain (commercials showed her in a limousine waiting for the store to open at the beginning of one of their sales events) and producing a jewelry line with the Weinman Brothers company. She previously was a celebrity spokesperson for High Point (coffee) and Fancy Feast cat food. In March 2006, Bacall was seen at the 78th Annual Academy Awards introducing a film montage dedicated to film noir. She made a cameo appearance as herself on The Sopranos, in the April 2006 episode, "Luxury Lounge", during which she was mugged by a masked hoodlum (played by Michael Imperioli).

In September 2006, Bacall was awarded the first Katharine Hepburn Medal, which recognizes "women whose lives, work and contributions embody the intelligence, drive and independence of the four-time-Oscar-winning actress", by Bryn Mawr College's Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center.[44] She gave an address at the memorial service of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. at the Reform Club in London in June 2007.[45] She finished her role in The Forger in 2009.[46]

Bacall was selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to receive an Honorary Academy Award. The award was presented at the inaugural Governors Awards on November 14, 2009.[47]

In July 2013, Bacall expressed interest in taking the starring role in the film Trouble Is My Business.[48] In November, she joined the English dub voice cast for StudioCanal's animated film Ernest & Celestine.[49] Her final role was in 2014: a guest vocal appearance in the twelfth season Family Guy episode "Mom's the Word".[50]

Personal life[edit]

Relationships and family[edit]

Bacall starring alongside Humphrey Bogart in 1947

On May 21, 1945, Bacall married actor Humphrey Bogart. Their wedding and honeymoon took place at Malabar Farm, Lucas, Ohio, the country home of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield, a close friend of Bogart. The wedding was held in the Big House.

Bacall was 20 and Bogart was 45; thus, she was nicknamed "Baby". They remained married until Bogart's death from esophageal cancer in 1957. Pressed by interviewer Michael Parkinson to talk about her marriage to Bogart, and asked about her notable reluctance to do so, she replied that "being a widow is not a profession".[51] During the filming of The African Queen (1951), Bacall and Bogart became friends of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. She began to mix in non-acting circles, becoming friends with the historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and the journalist Alistair Cooke. In 1952, she gave campaign speeches for Democratic Presidential contender Adlai Stevenson. Along with other Hollywood figures, Bacall was a staunch opponent of McCarthyism.[52][53]

Bacall in 1989

Shortly after Bogart's death in 1957, Bacall had a relationship with singer and actor Frank Sinatra. During an interview with Turner Classic Movies's Robert Osborne, Bacall stated that she had ended the romance but in her autobiography, she wrote that Sinatra abruptly ended the relationship after becoming angry that the story of his proposal to Bacall had reached the press. When Bacall was out with her friend Irving Paul Lazar, they ran into the gossip columnist Louella Parsons, to whom Lazar revealed the details of the proposal.[citation needed]

Bacall later met actor Jason Robards, Jr.. Their marriage was originally scheduled to take place in Vienna, Austria on June 16, 1961;[54] however, the plans were shelved after Austrian authorities refused to grant the pair a marriage license.[55] They were also refused a marriage in Las Vegas, Nevada.[56] On July 4, 1961, the couple drove all the way to Ensenada, Mexico, where they wedded.[56][57] The couple divorced in 1969. According to Bacall's autobiography, she divorced Robards mainly because of his alcoholism.[58][59]

Bacall had a son and daughter with Bogart and a son with Robards. Her children with Bogart are her son Stephen Humphrey Bogart (born January 6, 1949), a news producer, documentary film maker and author; and her daughter Leslie Howard Bogart (born August 23, 1952), a yoga instructor. Sam Robards (born December 16, 1961), her son with Robards, is an actor.

She wrote two autobiographies, Lauren Bacall By Myself (1978) and Now (1994).[60][61] In 2006, the first volume of Lauren Bacall By Myself was reprinted as By Myself and Then Some with an extra chapter.[62]

Political views[edit]

Vice President Harry S. Truman plays the piano while Bacall sits atop it at the National Press Club Canteen. (February 10, 1945)

Bacall was a staunch liberal Democrat. She proclaimed her political views on numerous occasions. In October 1947, Bacall and Bogart traveled to Washington, D.C., along with other Hollywood stars, in a group that called itself the Committee for the First Amendment (CFA). She appeared alongside Humphrey Bogart in a photograph printed at the end of an article he wrote, titled "I'm No Communist", in the May 1948 edition of Photoplay magazine,[63] written to counteract negative publicity resulting from his appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Bogart and Bacall distanced themselves from the Hollywood Ten and said: "We're about as much in favor of Communism as J. Edgar Hoover."[64][65]

She campaigned for Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 Presidential election and for Robert Kennedy in his 1964 run for the U.S. Senate. In a 2005 interview with Larry King, Bacall described herself as "anti-Republican... A liberal. The L-word." She added that "being a liberal is the best thing on earth you can be. You are welcoming to everyone when you're a liberal. You do not have a small mind."[66]


Lauren Bacall died on August 12, 2014, at her longtime home in The Dakota, the Upper West Side apartment building overlooking Central Park in Manhattan. According to her grandson Jamie Bogart, the actress died after suffering a massive stroke.[1] She was confirmed dead at New York–Presbyterian Hospital.[67][68] Bacall was 89.[69]



  • Lauren Bacall by Myself (1978)
  • Now (1994)
  • By Myself and Then Some (2005)

Awards and nominations[edit]


In 1991, Bacall was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1724 Vine Street. In 1997, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to her.[78] In 1998, Bacall was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.[79]

In popular culture[edit]

In film[edit]

In 1980, Kathryn Harrold played Bacall in the TV movie Bogie, which was directed by Vincent Sherman and based on the novel by Joe Hyams.[80] Kevin O'Connor played Bogart.[80] The movie focused primarily upon the disintegration of Bogart's third marriage to Mayo Methot, played by Ann Wedgeworth, when Bogart met Bacall and began an affair with her.[citation needed]

In books[edit]

  • Bacall is featured in The Dakota Scrapbook, a book about the history of the building and residents of the Dakota apartment building in New York City.[81]

In cartoons[edit]

In music[edit]

Marshall Islands namesake[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ This was the 1980 award for hardcover Autobiography.
    From 1980 to 1983 in National Book Award history there were dual hardcover and paperback awards in most categories, and multiple nonfiction subcategories. Most of the paperback award-winners were reprints, including the 1980 Autobiography.


  1. ^ a b c d Dana Ford (August 12, 2014). "Famed actress Lauren Bacall dies at 89". CNN. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  2. ^ Betsy Sharkey. "Lauren Bacall's voice resonated with women". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d "69th Academy Award Winners". Oscars. 1996. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b CNN Library (August 12, 2014). "Lauren Bacall Fast Facts". CNN. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  5. ^ Tyrnauer, Matt (March 10, 2011). "To Have and Have Not". Vanity Fair. Retrieved October 15, 2011. 
  6. ^ Lauren Bacall profile, Film Reference.com; retrieved July 9, 2014.
  7. ^ Bacall, Lauren (March 1, 2005). By Myself and Then Some. It Books. ISBN 0060755350. 
  8. ^ Lyman, Darryl (1999). Great Jews in the Performing Arts. Middle Village, NY: J. David. p. 19. ISBN 0824604199. 
  9. ^ West Long Branch Revisited (NJ) (Images of America), by Helen-Chantal Pike, 2007, Arcadia Publishing Co. ISBN 978-0738549033
  10. ^ Sultry, sophisticated and sassy, screen siren Bacall dies at 89 14/08/2014, Irish Independent
  11. ^ a b Shimon Peres remembers 'very strong, very beautiful' relative Lauren Bacall Haaretz, By Nirit Anderman, Aug. 13, 2014
  12. ^ Lazaroff, Tovah (November 10, 2005). "Peres: Not such a bad record after all". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved May 13, 2009. 
  13. ^ Weiner, Eric (June 13, 2007). "Shimon Peres Wears Hats of Peacemaker, Schemer". National Public Radio. Retrieved May 13, 2009. 
  14. ^ Meyers, Jeffrey (1997), Bogart: A Life in Hollywood. Houghton Mifflin; ISBN 978-0-395-77399-4, p. 164.
  15. ^ Cantrell, Susan (July 19, 2009). "Lauren Bacall on Life, Acting, and Bogie". Carmel Magazine. Retrieved August 22, 2009. 
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  18. ^ Lauren Bacall, by Francis Sill Wickware LIFE Magazine, May 7, 1945, Vol. 18, No. 19
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  20. ^ Thomas, Tony. The Films of Kirk Douglas. Citadel Press, New York, 1991; ISBN 0-8065-1217-2. p. 18
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  23. ^ a b (source: interview with Howard Hawks in Peter Bogdanovich's book, Who the Devil Made It, p. 327)
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  86. ^ ""Captain Crash & The Beauty Queen From Mars" Lyrics". Bon Jovi Official Website. Retrieved August 13, 2014. "...Kurt and Courtney, Bacall and Bogie, Joltin’ Joe and Ms. Monroe, Here’s captain crash and the beauty queen from mars." 
  87. ^ Anna Nalick –"Words" (NEW Song) on YouTube, November 14, 2010; retrieved April 29, 2014.
  88. ^ "Marshall Islands". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 13 August 2014. "The inhabited islands along the southern side of Majuro Atoll have been joined over time by landfill and a bridge to form a 30-mile road from Rita, on the extreme eastern end, to Laura, at the western end. Both villages were so code-named by U.S. forces in World War II after favorite pinups Rita Hayworth and Lauren Bacall." 

External links[edit]

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54705 videos foundNext > 

Lauren Bacall Talks About Being on the Set of The African Queen, - Sept. 1987

Johnny talks with Lauren Bacall about being on the set of The African Queen and her experiences in Africa. 09/03/1987 JOHNNY CARSON PLAYLISTS Animals http://...

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TCM Tribute to Lauren Bacall

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One of Hollywood's most distinctive voices has fallen silent. Look back at Lauren Bacall's life through her own words.

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A look back at the life of Lauren Bacall - the cool, sultry-voiced icon of Hollywood's golden age of cinema who died at age 89. WSJ's Mark Kelly reports (Ima...

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Posting this one early for sad, and obvious, reasons. In tribute to the great Lauren Bacall. Many. many thanks to YouTube user retrovideofestival for providi...

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Subscribe at http://spr.ly/6017cTBT to watch more great classic film every day.

Lauren Bacall -- (TCM Original) Kelsey Grammer

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1833052 news items

New York Daily News

New York Daily News
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:13:39 -0700

Silver screen legend Lauren Bacall left behind an estimated $26.6 million estate — and made sure her little dog Sophie would have plenty of bones in her golden years. Bacall left $10,000 to one of her sons to ensure Sophie enjoyed the lifestyle to ...


Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:37:30 -0700

NEW YORK (JTA)-Lauren Bacall, a film legend best known for her sultry onscreen presence and her Hollywood romance with actor Humphrey Bogart, has died. Bacall, the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Poland and Romania, died Tuesday, AUG.


Fri, 22 Aug 2014 15:30:00 -0700

The death of screen legend Lauren Bacall on Aug. 12 stirred a big sales gain for an obscure song this past week, as Bertie Higgins' "Key Largo" earned a 625 percent increase in download sales. Lauren Bacall's Top 5 Pop Song References. In the week ...


Thu, 14 Aug 2014 11:59:39 -0700

''Wearing a 50-year-old Fortuny dress proved how smart Lauren Bacall was,'' he said. ''A smart Jewish girl from the Bronx who knew Norell as well as Loehmann's. She's our reference for what smart looks like. Look up 'smart' in the dictionary — you'll ...


Tue, 19 Aug 2014 04:15:00 -0700

AlterNet The Lauren Bacall obits I've seen take only a fleeting glance at her politics. She had the guts and stamina of a classic New York-born Jewish left-liberal. She was not only Bogie's sultry siren in To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep, but a ...

CBS News

Wed, 13 Aug 2014 10:36:03 -0700

Lauren Bacall, nicknamed “The Look,” was one of the last remaining vestiges of the golden age of Hollywood — with the mythology, unique beauty, and gravitas of all classic stars. In the wake of her death, this is how her legacy came to be and how it ...

Broadway World

Broadway World
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:37:30 -0700

Film and stage legend and two-time Tony Award winner Lauren Bacall, passed away last week (first reported by TMZ) at the age of 89. The legendary actress suffered a massive stroke and died at home (New York City's famous Dakota Building) according to ...
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 19:40:24 -0700

As TIME wrote when she first made a name for herself in To Have and Have Not, in 1944, “Lauren Bacall has cinema personality to burn, and she burns both ends against an unusually little middle… She has a javelinlike vitality, a born dancer's eloquence ...

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