Scarcely 24 hours after learning of the untimely demise of one of the world’s greatest comedic talents, Robin Williams, it was announced tonight that legendary movie Icon Lauren Bacall has passed away at the age of 89. Her career in the movies began in 1945 at the tender age of 19 opposite the then superstar Humphrey Bogart in the screen adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s To Have And To Have Not. It was a prophetic pairing as the two fell in love on the set and remained happily married for 12 years until Bogey’s untimely death from cancer at the age of 57.
Although he was already a movie Icon when they met, she held her own and created in her first movie role a star to be reckoned with in her now legendary scene with Bogey where she asks him if he knows how to whistle, “You know Steve, you just put your lips together and blow!” After a long pause in the movie (that some say was not in the script) Bogey proceeds to do just that and a star was born.
Besty as she was known by her friends became not only a major star but a major voice in Hollywood and an outspoken opponent of the Blacklisting by the industry during the days of the infamous House Un-American Activities witch hunt for Hollywood types whom they suspected of being either a Communist or consorting with Communists. She remained throughout her life a Democrat who was never shy about speaking her mind politically or otherwise and remained a top star well into the 80’s before she began to slow down a bit.
After Bogey’s death she was briefly engaged to Frank Sinatra who was one of the inner circle of the Original Rat Pack started by Bogey, Bacall, Kate Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. She and Bogey had two children a boy and a girl. She later married two-time Academy Award winning actor Jason Robards, Jr. and also had a child with him – actor Sam Robards. Her final husband was Harry Guardino himself an actor and a member of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack. She had a brief affair with James Garner during the period when he was separated from his wife. She and Garner acted together in the film ‘The Fan’. Though their affair ended quickly and he returned to his wife they remained friends.
She was a brilliant actress subtle and sultry and besides the several pictures she made with Bogey she also made a number of other highly rated movies and acted in a number of Broadway plays and made several television appearances including the long running Fancy Feast Cat commercials. She remained a lady in every sense of the word right up to the end. Always a lady of wit and often an acerbic and funny outspoken beauty who was truly a woman of substance, character and integrity who was a consummate professional and much sought after actress. She was a lifelong friend of President Harry Truman and his wife Bess and I have a copy of the Iconic photo taken of her leaning atop of Truman’s piano singing while he played the piano.
My all time favorite movie with both her and Bogey was Key Largo and I watch it every time it is on TV. It was the absolute top of the line of both the film noir and the so-called ‘Chic Flick’ genre of all Chic Flicks bar none with its only real rival being Casablanca in that category. But that’s okay cause I have always loved Chic Flicks and I am comfortable enough and man enough in my own skin to say so!
She was one of my favorite actresses and a great lady May She Rest in Peace.