Actress Lauren Bacall dead at 89
Lauren Bacall, the smoky-voiced movie legend who taught Humphrey Bogart how to whistle in “To Have and Have Not,” has died at the age of 89, according to her family.
Her death was confirmed by Robbert de Klerk, the co-managing partner of the Humphrey Bogart Estate with her son Stephen Bogart.
“She passed away peacefully earlier today in New York,” according to family, De Klerk said.
In a statement released on social media, the Bogart Estate expressed deep sorrow and “great gratitude for her amazing life.”
Reached by telephone at her Santa Monica home, her daughter, Leslie Bogart, said the family was not sharing any additional information at this time.
Bacall launched her career with the 1944 film that turned “Bogie and Bacall” into one of Hollywood’s legendary couples on screen and off.
She was born Betty Joan Perske on Sept. 16, 1924, in New York.
Bacall was a fledgling New York stage actress and a model whose pictures in Harper’s Bazaar came to the attention of director Howard Hawks, who placed her under contract and cast her opposite Bogart in the wartime drama “To Have and Have Not.”
Bogart and Bacall were teamed up in three more Warner Bros. movies, “The Big Sleep,” “Dark Passage” and “Key Largo.”
Bacall also costarred in “Young Man With a Horn” with Kirk Douglas, “Bright Leaf” with Gary Cooper, “How to Marry a Millionaire” with Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe, “Blood Alley” with John Wayne, “Written on the Wind” with Rock Hudson and “Designing Woman” with Gregory Peck.
Bacall returned to Broadway to appear in the 1959-60 comedy “Goodbye Charlie,” the 1965-68 comedy “Cactus Flower” and the 1970-72 musical “Applause,” which earned her first Tony Award.
Bacall’s movie career was rocky. In such films as “Confidential Agent” (1945) and “Bright Leaf” (1950), she essentially played the same role as in “To Have and Have Not.”
A comic turn in “How to Marry a Millionaire” earned applause but few of her other films were memorable and she became the self-proclaimed “den mother” to her two children, Stephen, and Leslie, and a regular crowd of Bogart’s drinking buddies.
Much of Bacall’s allure came from what was known as “The Look,” a sexy but soft glance. She explained it by saying: “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 Bogie. That was the beginning of ‘The Look.’”
After Bogart’s death in 1957 at age 57, Bacall had a well-publicized affair with Frank Sinatra and a stormy eight-year marriage to actor Jason Robards that produced a son, Sam, who would become an actor.
Bacall worked occasionally in films in the 1960s and ‘70s, notably in “Harper” (1966) opposite Paul Newman, the all-star Agatha Christie hit “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974) and “The Shootist” (1976), which was John Wayne’s last film.
Her career revived in fits and starts through the 1980s and 1990s, culminating in her first Oscar nomination for her supporting role as Barbra Streisand’s domineering mother in “The Mirror Has Two Faces.” Bacall won the Golden Globe and several other honors for the role but the Oscar continued to elude her.
After her film career cooled, Bacall returned to the stage. She won best actress Tony Awards for “Applause” in 1970 and “Woman of the Year” in 1981. Over the years she had transformed her persona from a willowy temptress with a come-hither look to a shrewd and worldly woman.
Of her career and life, Bacall once said, “I traveled by roller coaster, a roller coaster on which the highs were as high as anyone could ever hope to go. And the lows! Oh, those lows were lower than anyone should ever have to go - 10 degrees below hell.”
She published two volumes of memoirs, “Lauren Bacall by Myself” in 1979 and “By Myself and Then Some” in 1996.
In 2009, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded her an honorary Oscar “in recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures.”
Los Angeles Times, Reuters
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