Lauren Bacall (1924-2014) In Memorium

Lauren Bacall

RIP. Star of stars. Hollywood/Broadway.
One of the reasons I was inspired to get into showbiz.

September 16, 1924 – August 12, 2014.

Born Betty Joan Perske in NY’s Bronx, Lauren Bacall passed from a stroke on August 12, 2014 at her apartment in The Dakota in Manhattan. Married to Humphrey Bogart in 1945 until his death in 1957. Bacall had a relationship with Frank Sinatra after Bogart’s death.  Remarried to Jason Robards in 1961, and divorced in 1969. Bacall had two children with Bogart (son Stephen Humphrey Bogart & daughter Leslie Howard Bogart) and one with Robards (son Sam Robards).

Applause Broadway 33rpm Vinyl Record CoverShe was known for her distinctive voice and sultry looks throughout the golden age of Hollywood and Broadway.

Family and close friends called her Betty throughout her life.

As a young boy growing up in Australia, my mother purchased a vinyl 33rpm record of Applause, which I listened to intently and repeatedly imagining the action on stage during the songs — I directed and designed the show in my head while listening.

Lauren Bacall Applause Broadway montage

After Hello, Dolly!, this musical further inspired my career, and my adoration of Lauren Bacall skyrocketed.  I was lucky to work on a Queensland Theatre Company production of Applause starring the sensational Australian icon Noeline Brown, and from the wings, I always imagined Lauren Bacall.

My dream to meet her was fulfilled when she was seated my table at the Broadway opening night of Victor/Victoria, & again Death of a Salesman party guest and again at the Carnegie Hall Man for All Seasons tribute to Dudley Moore with her.

Victor/Victoria

VictorVictoria Broadway Opening Night Lauren Bacall
My dinner companion, Lauren Bacall at opening night of Victor/Victoria

Death of a Salesman

Death of Salesman Opening Night Part - Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall & Brian Dennehy
Gregory Peck, Lauren Bacall & Brian Dennehy at our Broadway opening night party for Death of a Salesman

Dudley Moore Gala

Dudley Moore Gala (New York) group Bo Derek, Cleo Lane, Lauren Bacall and Chevy Chase
Bo Derek, Cleo Lane, Dudley Moore, Lauren Bacall and Chevy Chase at our Carnegie Hall “Man for All Seasons” tribute

Lauren Bacall: One Tough Broad

Lauren Bacall was one of those stars who was so original and iconic that alongside Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis and Katherine Hepburn, possessed an ineffable power to dominate the stage or screen by their physical presence alone. Bacall was unique since she demonstrated this authority at only 19 years old when she stood toe-to-toe with the formidable Humphrey Bogart in “To Have and Have Not” (1944). Her husky voice and sultry eyes were more than a match for Bogie, both on screen and off. He would marry his much younger co-star and together they began one of Hollywood’s most famed personal and professional partnerships.

But Bacall was not dependent upon Bogart for her later success. She continued to be a movie star and Broadway diva long after Bogart died in 1957, establishing herself as one of the greatest female entertainers of her generation – not to mention, one tough broad.

To me, she was one of the few stars of stars.

Lauren Bacall Tribute

Lauren Bacall Major Stage Work

Year Title Role Notes
1942 Johnny 2×4 Ensemble Broadway
(credited as Betty Bacall)
1942 Franklin Street Unnamed teenager Broadway
1959 Goodbye Charlie Charlie Broadway
1965 Cactus Flower Stephanie Broadway
1970 Applause Margo Channing Broadway & West End
1977 Wonderful Town Ruth Sherwood Summer stock
1981 Woman of the Year Tess Harding Broadway
1985 Sweet Bird of Youth The Princess Kosmonopolis West End & Australian Tour
1995 The Visit Claire Zachanassian Chichester Festival
1999 Waiting in the Wings Lotta Bainbridge Broadway

For her roles in Applause and Woman of the Year, she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical

Lauren Bacall Major Films

Year Movie Role
1944 To Have and Have Not Marie “Slim” Browning
1945 Confidential Agent Rose Cullen
1946 The Big Sleep Vivian Sternwood Rutledge
1947 Dark Passage Irene Jansen
1948 Key Largo Nora Temple
1950 Young Man with a Horn Amy North
1950 Bright Leaf Sonia Kovac
1953 How to Marry a Millionaire Schatze Page
1954 Woman’s World Elizabeth Burns
1955 The Cobweb Meg Faversen Rinehart
1955 Blood Alley Cathy Grainger
1956 Written on the Wind Lucy Moore Hadley
1957 Designing Woman Marilla Brown Hagen
1958 The Gift of Love Julie Beck
1959 North West Frontier Catherine Wyatt
1964 Shock Treatment Dr. Edwina Beighley
1964 Sex and the Single Girl Sylvia Broderick
1966 Harper Elaine Sampson
1974 Murder on the Orient Express Mrs. Harriet Belinda Hubbard
1976 The Shootist Bond Rogers
1980 HealtH Esther Brill
1981 The Fan Sally Ross
1988 Appointment with Death Lady Westholme
1988 Mr. North Amelia Cranston
1989 Tree of Hands Marsha Archdale
1990 Misery Marcia Sindell
1991 A Star for Two Edwige
1991 All I Want for Christmas Lillian Brooks
1994 Ready to Wear (Prêt-à-Porter) Slim Chrysler
1996 The Mirror Has Two Faces Hannah Morgan
1996 My Fellow Americans Margaret Kramer
1997 Day and Night Sonia
1999 Diamonds Sin-Dee
1999 The Venice Project Countess Camilla Volta
1999 Presence of Mind Mado Remei
2003 Dogville Ma Ginger
2003 Gone Dark May Markham
2004 Birth Eleanor
2005 Manderlay Mam
2006 These Foolish Things Dame Lydia
2007 The Walker Natalie Van Miter
2010 Wide Blue Yonder May
2012 The Forger Anne-Marie Cole

She was named the 20th-greatest female star of classic Hollywood cinema by the American Film Institute and received an Academy Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2009 in recognition of her contribution to the Golden Age of motion pictures.

Lauren Bacall is remembered at her Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in August 2014
Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

For more information about Lauren Bacall, see this VANITY FAIR article.