Lauren Bacall, 1924-2014

The career of Lauren Bacall has spanned 70 years and over 60 films.  Her famous “smoky” voice was both tough and sexy.  And of course, she was half of one of Hollywood’s most famous romances.

She was born Betty Joan Perske in the Bronx, New York.  She began modeling as a teenager, soon gracing the covers of such fashion magazines as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue.

According to Hollywood rumor, director Howard hawk’s wife spotted her in a magazine and urged her husband to cast Bacall in a role.  Taking the name “Lauren Bacall”, the 20 year-old was hired to star opposite Humphrey Bogart, then 45,  in To Have and Have Not (1944).  The film was a hit, leading to other pairing with Bogart: The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947), and Key Largo (1948).

Bacall was soon in demand, starring in a string of hits, including Young Man with a Horn (1950), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), Blood Alley (1955), Written on the Wind (1956), and Designing Woman (1957).  She proved adept in film noir, melodrama, and romantic comedy.

After Humphrey Bogart’s death in 1957, Lauren Bacall’s film career declined.  She returned to New York and found success on the Broadway stage, appearing in Cactus Flower (1965), Applause (1970), and Woman of the Year (1981).  Winning Tony Awards for the latter two.   Her films during this period included smaller roles in Harper (1966) and Murder on the Orient Express (1974).  She reunited with her Blood Alley co-star John Wayne in The Shootist (1981), his final film.

She continued to work in small, but notable roles: Misery (1990), My Fellow Americans (1996), and The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996, earning an Academy Award nomination).  She had two children from her marriage to Bogart and one from her marriage to actor Jason Robards.  In later years, she candidly spoke of her relationship with Frank Sinatra.

Lauren Bacall will be remembered by classic movie fans for her long and rich film career.

Do you have a favorite Lauren Bacall movie?