PeggyR

Lauren Bacall dies at 89

17 posts in this topic

Thanks for posting this sad news, PeggyR. After Garner and Williams, this makes three. I hope that's it for awhile.

The NYT obit has this tidbit.

Although finances were a problem as she was growing up — “Nothing came easy, everything was worked for” — her mother’s family was close-knit, and through an uncle’s generosity she attended the Highland Manor school for girls in Tarrytown, N.Y., where she graduated from grade school at 11. She went on to Julia Richman High School in Manhattan and also studied acting at the New York School of the Theater and ballet with Mikhail Mordkin, who had on occasion been Pavlova’s partner.

. More.

Bacall was playing for real a high-grade version of the postwar homemaker bride, but she was not in many movies. Hawks sold her contract to Jack Warner, who suspended her 12 times for refusing poor roles; 50s models of women were rolling off a new production line. Class now meant the aloofness of Grace Kelly; sass meant the vulnerable trashiness of Marilyn Monroe. None of them were sensual as Bacall had been, or as direct, straight-talking and brave. What happened to the image of women after 1945 is summed up in the difference between Bacall unfazed by Bogart's drunk sidekick in To Have and Have Not (who grudgingly admits "Lady, you're all right") and Bacall unamused as the mink-pursuer in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953). And that was considered a good part. She bought out her contract, but all that expensive gesture purchased was a soapy role in Douglas Sirk's Written on the Wind (1956) through which, you hope hopelessly, she will take tormented Robert Stack out for a belt of bourbon; and another refrigerated career girl in Designing Woman (1957).

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks for the Guardian link -- a thoughtful examination of a long, complex career.

Share this post


Link to post

From the Guardian article,

Hawks had hung out with Ernest Hemingway and company, who (as Slim complained after the marriage was over) wanted females who did not wimp out or whinge about the big game hunting, the hard drinking and harder bullshitting – but who were young enough not to be equals, so that they were never a threat.

What a great quote. And

Bogart did not want her to be actor first and wife second – his own King Kong-like fantasy of a woman was that she should fit into a man's pocket, to be displayed on the palm of his hand, expanded to full-size when desired, and contracted back on command.

Share this post


Link to post

Bacall's outsized importance as one of the last of the great stars from the Golden Age is intriguing given that she didn't make many films during that era. And she certainly didn't make that many great films. The four pictures she made with fellow icon (and husband) Humphrey Bogart are what sealed her reputation because no one thinks of How To Marry a Millionaire or Written On the Wind as Lauren Bacall films.

And for the record, with the death of Bacall, all of the greats mentioned in the "rap" portion of Madonna's 1990 mega-smash "Vogue" are now dead: Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Joe DiMaggio, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Grace Kelly, Jean Harlow, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, Lana Turner and Bette Davis. (I consider it an absolute scandal TO THIS DAY that Joan Crawford wasn't included. Poor Joan!)

Share this post


Link to post

And for the record, with the death of Bacall, all of the greats mentioned in the "rap" portion of Madonna's 1990 mega-smash "Vogue" are now dead: Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Joe DiMaggio, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Grace Kelly, Jean Harlow, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, Lana Turner and Bette Davis. (I consider it an absolute scandal TO THIS DAY that Joan Crawford wasn't included. Poor Joan!)

I love that video but I'd never see a transcription of the roll call -- thank you! And yes, Joan Crawford did indeed give good face.

Share this post


Link to post

Bacall's reputation is really down to two pictures - "To Have and Have Not" and "The Big Sleep." Those are the ones that people generally think of when they think of Bogart and Bacall. She didn’t have much range as an actor, it must be admitted. In those early appearances with Bogart her infatuated leading man handed her every scene and she was well protected by her director, Howard Hawks. She might have been able to assume Davis and Hepburn parts on Broadway, sort of, but to imagine her in those roles on film at any stage in her career is pretty ludicrous. Her initial impact had little to do with acting, of course, so it’s almost beside the point. There just hadn’t been anything quite like her before.

Andy Williams did her singing for her in “To Have and Have Not.” Worked splendidly.

She was a great natural beauty, too. I saw a couple of photos of her on location in Africa accompanying Bogart during the shooting of The African Queen. She was wearing a bathrobe and her hair was in a towel and she looked stunning. The camera loved her.

Share this post


Link to post

I wonder if her two early successes ended up harming her career. Hollywood didn't seem to know what to do with her after those two films, and she didn't have enough range and charm to really expand successfully into different roles. I also think that maybe she didn't have the motivation to do so -- I read her autobiography By Myself and she seemed very enamored of the Hollywood A-list life.

Share this post


Link to post

I guess you could say by marrying Bogart she vaulted instantly upward into Hollywood royalty much as her role model Slim Hawks did by marrying Howard. The guy gets a beautiful young wife and the wife gets a cushy lifestyle and famous friends without a slog through the showbiz trenches first. It had its downsides, as the Guardian article notes. But not the world’s most awful deal, or awful life.

Bacall’s style was heavily influenced by the aforementioned Slim, aka Nancy Gross Hawks Hayward Keith, socialite and lifelong friend. Her character in “To Have and Have Not” was named for her, Bacall’s outfits were modeled on Slim’s (and a number of the outfits Bacall wears in that photo gallery (thanks, Kathleen) look very Slim).

Share this post


Link to post

In regard to Slim Hawks a.k.a Slim Hayward a.k.a. Slim Keith a.k.a. Lady Ina Coolbirth in Truman Capote's "La Cote Basque 1965", her 1990 memoir, Slim: Memories of a Rich and Imperfect Life, is a good read. Highly recommended.

Share this post


Link to post

She was played by Hope Davis in the Capote film starring Toby Jones, Infamous. It is an.....interesting book. Slim liked the good life and was unusually candid about marrying into it.

Bacall is also very funny swooshing around as Barbra Streisand's mother in The Mirror Has Two Faces.

Share this post


Link to post

"swooshing around"

I know just what you're talking about.

Share this post


Link to post

Anyone thinking of moving? Bacall's apartment in the Dakota goes on sale for $26 million.

Bacall paid US$48,000 in 1961 for the property at 1 West 72nd Street. The building of 93 apartments is among the most elite in Manhattan with incredibly stringent co-op laws. The building’s board has to approve any would-be inhabitants and, as Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas will attest after they were declined in 2005, they’re not shy to reject potential neighbours (also ask Gene Simmons and Billy Joel). Most famously, the Dakota is where John Lennon lived until he was shot outside in 1980 and has been home to Judy Garland, Rudolf Nureyev, Leonard Bernstein and many more.

The article doesn't mention that the Dakota's exterior also added a soupcon of spook to Rosemary's Baby.

Share this post


Link to post