Bogie and Bacall was a classic Hollywood love story only to be rivaled by Spencer Tracey’s and Katie Hepburn’s. Bogart was married to another actress, Mayo Methot, he and Bacall began filming “To Have and to Have Not.” But their obvious chemistry practically leapt off the celluloid. It was inescapable,
They met in 1944. By 1945, Bogart had announced that he was divorcing Methot, a violent alcoholic. Bogart was tortured by his love for Bacall and his desire to save his marriage. He left Methot, then returned to her less than two weeks later in November of that year, but in the end, the “Battling Bogarts,” as they were known, called it quits.
Bacall was his fourth wife, and yet Bogart was so undeniably smitten, Bacall was probably the only woman who had the power to render even Marilyn Monroe about as appealing as a bowl of chopped liver.
In February 1987, Orange Coast magazine ran a quote Bogart gave about stardom decades earlier: “It ruins so many people — particularly actresses,” Bogie said. “Ninety percent of them are the dullest broads in town. They have no appeal for me whatsoever, and that goes for Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, and Gina Lollobrigida. In fact, the only actress in town with any true allure is Lauren Bacall.”
Bacall, was a bewitching actress with a husky voice and smoldering onscreen chemistry that helped make her a defining movie star of the 1940s and who decades later won Tony Awards in the Broadway musicals “Applause” and “Woman of the Year.
Ms. Bacall was one of the last surviving major stars of the studio system, One of ball’s most memorable lines comes from the movie “To Have and Have Not” , Ms. Bacall plays against Bogart, who plays a hard-boiled charter-boat captain named Steve. As she prepares to leave his hotel room, she tells him: “You know you don’t have to act with me, Steve. You don’t have to say anything, and you don’t have to do anything. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”
After Bogart died in 1957, she was engaged to Frank Sinatra and had a turbulent marriage to actor Jason Robards Jr. She was a longtime resident of the Dakota apartments in New York, but her social life extended far beyond the city.
She won her two Tonys in roles made indelible onscreen by other powerful actresses. She played an aging actress threatened by an ambitious upstart in “Applause” (1970), a stage version of the Bette Davis film “All About Eve.” And she filled the Katharine Hepburn part of a high-powered journalist in “Woman of the Year” (1981).
Both plays did a great deal to transform Ms. Bacall into a respected actress. After seeing “Applause,” theater critic Walter Kerr wrote that she “ceases being a former movie star and becomes a star of the stage.”
Bacall continuted towk onscreen. She played a brassy widow in “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974), based on the Agatha Christie mystery, and an actress stalked by an obsessed admirer in “The Fan” (1981). She took much smaller roles to work with directors she admired, including Lars von Trier (“Dogville,” 2003) and Paul Schrader (“The Walker,” 2007).
After losing her Oscar nomination in 1996 to Juliette Binoche in “The English Patient,” Ms. Bacall told the Times of London that “the phone went completely dead, which shows you what a fickle business it is. It’s one of the reasons why I continue to work, because I know how it is not to work.
“I’ve had wilderness years, times in Los Angeles when you’d attend parties and see people’s eye line disappearing somewhere over your shoulder, which was one of the reasons I left that town. It was also more difficult for me in Hollywood to be myself rather than Bogie’s wife. They never let you forget it.”
Lauren Bacall- September 16, 1924 – August 12, 2014
Watch a rare clip from Bacall’s television performance of “Applause” below. (The scene takes place in a gay bar of all things and was on television in 1973.)