Lauren Bacall, original name Betty Joan Perske, was born September 16, 1924, in New York, New York, U.S., and died August 12, 2014. She is an American actress known for portraying provocative women who hid their softcore underneath a layer of hard-edged pragmatism. She first emerged as the leading lady in the Humphrey Bogart film “To Have And Have Not” (1944) and continued in the film noir genre, with appearances in Bogart movies “The Big Sleep” (1946), “Dark Passage” (1947), and” Key Largo” (1948), as well as a comedienne in “How to Marry a Millionaire” (1953) with Marilyn Monroe and “Designing Woman” (1957) with Gregory Peck.
Betty Joan Perske
September 16, 1924
August 12, 2014 (age 89)
Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924, in the Bronx, New York, U.S.A., to Natalie Bacall and William Perske. Her father was addicted to alcohol and deserted the family when Bacall was six. Soon after her birth, her family moved to Brooklyn’s Ocean Parkway. She received education at a private boarding school named The Highland Manor Boarding School for Girls in Tarrytown, New York. She then studied at Julia Richman High School in Manhattan. Her parents divorced when she was young. After that, she no longer saw her father and formed a very close bond with her mother, who later married Lee Goldberg. Her obsession with theater led her to work as an usher at St. James Theater. She also worked as a fashion model. While working as a model, she was featured on the cover of “Harper’s Bazaar” in 1942 and got noticed by ace director Howard Hawks’ wife Nancy Hawkes, who encouraged her to take a screen test for “To Have and Have Not.” Hawks took a keen interest in Bacall and taught her how to speak with proper diction. She also convinced her to adopt the name Lauren to hide her Jewish heritage.
In 1941, Bacall enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and took lessons alongside Kirk Douglas. In 1942, she won the Miss Greenwich Village title. At 19, Bacall co-starred with Humphrey Bogart in “To Have and Have Not” in 1944. She first displayed her famous gesture of keeping her chin pressed against her chest while on the sets of this movie, which remained a trademark throughout her career. Although Nancy Hawks groomed her, she was discovered by Diana Vreeland, who met her through Nicholas de Gunzburg and persuaded her to model for “Harper’s Bazaar.” Soon after the success of “To Have and Have Not,” she starred opposite Charles Boyer in “Confidential Agent” in 1945. While visiting the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on February 10, 1945, her agent Charlie Enfield asked her to sit on the piano, played by the then U.S. Vice President Harry S Truman. Bacall was an instant hit because of her graceful demeanor, cat-like movements, sparkling blue-green eyes, and light-brown blonde hair. In 1946, her stunning performance in Howard Hawks’ “The Big Sleep,” alongside Humphrey Bogart, cemented her place in Hollywood. By now, Lauren had become an iconic star who was sought after for playing femme fatale roles, which she portrayed with great ease. In 1947, she was cast alongside Humphrey Bogart in another blockbuster film “Dark Passage” in which she played the role of a mysterious San Francisco artist and earned rave reviews for her performance. She starred alongside Bogart and Edward G Robinson in the suspense film “Key Largo” in 1948. She almost outclassed her co-stars with her brilliant performance. She was cast alongside Gary Cooper in a drama film titled “Bright Leaf” (1950). The film was based on the 1948 novel of the same name by Foster Fitz-Simons. The same year, she also appeared in the movie “Young Man with a Horn.” Bacall co-starred with Bogart from 1951 to 1952 in an action-adventure radio series titled “Bold Venture.”
From 1954 to 2010, she was cast in many films like “Woman’s World,” “North West Frontier,” “The Fan,” “Tree of Hands,” “All I Want for Christmas,” “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” “Wide Blue Yonder,” etc. Apart from acting, she has also voiced many characters in several animated films like “Madeline: Lost in Paris,” “Howl’s Moving Castle,” “Scooby-Doo! and the Goblin King,” and “Ernest & Celestine.” Her final film role was in the 2012 drama film “The Forger,” also known as “Carmel-by-the-Sea.”
She begins modeling and appears on the cover of “Harper's Bazaar,” one of the most popular magazines in the US.
Lauren wins The Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year award, an annual bestowment by ‘Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ at Harvard.
She gets a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
She wins the first of two Tony Awards for her starring role in “Applause,” a Broadway musical version of the 1950 film “All About Eve.”
She wins the National Book Award for her bestselling autobiography “By Myself.”
Lauren wins another Tony Award for Best Actress for her role in the musical “Woman of the Year.”
She receives a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for “The Mirror Has Two Faces.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences selects her to receive an Academy Honorary Award in recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures.
Why We Love Lauren Bacall
Bacall was an iconic star
"Legend" is a word that comes to mind when discussing Lauren Bacall. Her famous traits have gone down in movie history — her iconic blonde wave, perpetual elegance, and voice. Indeed, Bacall's baritone voice has become one of her most striking features.
She was truthful
Lauren Bacall was nothing if not unflinchingly honest, and it became one of her defining characteristics. In interviews, she spoke up when she thought a question was rude, and when asked about people or films from her past, she never failed to give the cold, hard truth. In a 1985 interview, the actress explained that her obsession with the facts was something she picked up from Humphrey Bogart.
She was generous
Bacall also left some money to two loyal employees who received $10,000 and $15,000. Her vast estate was valued at $26.6 million, with the bulk of it being shared by her three children and $250,000 going to her grandsons’ college fund.
5 Surprising Facts
She changed her name
She added the second “L” to Bacall to stop people from pronouncing her last name “Backle.”
She idolized Bette Davis
In high school, she cut classes to sneak into movie theaters and watch the films of her idol, Bette Davis.
She loved her dog
She left $10,000 in her will, specifically to take care of her dog Sophie wherein she assigned the task to her youngest son Sam Roberts.
She worked as an usher
Having lost her job as a showroom model and quit acting school for lack of funds, the teenage Bacall found work as a Broadway theater usher.
She dreamt of being a ballerina
She originally wanted and intended to be a dancer, having attended ballet classes since childhood, but in adolescence was drawn to acting.
Lauren Bacall FAQs
What was Lauren Bacall's cause of death?
According to her grandson Jamie Bogart, Bacall died after a massive stroke.
How old was Lauren Bacall when she married Bogie?
On May 21, when he was 45 and Bacall was 20, they wed at a friend’s Ohio farm.
What happened between Frank Sinatra and Lauren Bacall?
Shortly after Humphrey Bogart’s death, she announced her engagement to Frank Sinatra to the press, but Sinatra promptly backed out.
Lauren Bacall’s birthday dates