So you can read my books

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


 'I never went into this business thinking of winning anything' 
-- Lauren Bacall | 1924-2014

Another icon gone ...

     I have her in a starring role in my GHOST OF A CHANCE along with her husband, Humphrey Bogart.

{For a free audiobook of it just comment below and ask.}

I admit to having a crush on Lauren Bacall when I a youngster watching classic black and white movies on the weekend marathons.

Lauren Bacall, the smoky-voiced movie legend who taught Humphrey Bogart how to whistle in "To Have and Have Not," has died at the age of 89, according to her family.

And my world has become even more poor.  

Just knowing the intelligent, forceful, and independent woman was living and cracking smart with bloated ego's made me smile.

Just like knowing Robin Williams was amusing upset babies in restaurants and helping friends down on their luck made me better about the human race.

Known for her husky voice and sizzling looks, Bacall started out as a model and then broke out as a leading lady opposite Humphrey Bogart in her first film, 1944's To Have and To Have Not

The two had a whirlwind romance and wed the following year, but it wasn't without scandal. 

When they met, she was 19 and he was 44 -- and an unhappily married man.

The couple went on to star together in more films: The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947), and Key Largo (1948). They had a son and daughter together and remained married until Bogart's death from throat cancer in 1957.

 She also experienced success on stage, starring on Broadway in Goodbye, Charlie (1959) and Cactus Flower (1965), and won Tony Awards for her performances in Applause (1970) and Woman of the Year (1981).

 Maggie Smith:
 "Betty [Bacall is called Betty by everyone close to her; it is her real name - Lauren was Hawks's idea] is one of the most courageous people I know. 

She has lived a long time on her own. I don't think she always likes it, but she never complains." 

It was Bacall, Smith says, who helped her come to terms with living alone after her husband died. "She has always said living alone is not as bad as living with someone you can't stand."

Bacall on Bacall:
 "I would hate now to be married," she says, laughing - "it does occur to me on occasion that, if I fall and hit my head, there will be no one to make the phone call. But who wants to think about that disaster, I'd prefer not to."

 We like our legends dead, our elderly icons softly compliant. Bacall has never fitted this mold.

 There has always been something unsafe, unsure, unsettling about her, 

and she doesn't play Hollywood's nostalgia game - too crisp and casual and stylish for that. 

Also, by the time she came along, the mid-40s, Hollywood had abandoned its 30s pretense that the roaring 20s had never ended, 

that the golden pre-crash, pre-prohibition era would endure for ever, in favor of something more in keeping with America's dark, postwar mood.

 Film noir. All shadows and sombre angles.

Bacall's self-description:
"I was this flat-chested, big-footed, lanky thing" - not beautiful in a rounded, voluptuous way - suggested a new kind of male fantasy figure: neither angel nor demon beauty. 

She is smart as well as vulnerable. 

From the moment we first see her in the doorway of Steve/Bogart's Martinique hotel room in To Have And Have Not (it was Hawks's brilliant notion to have her slouching against the doorpost), 

we realize, as Steve realizes, that this is a woman who is all angles - angular beauty, sharp, angled suits; lippy, funny, sexy, provocative. 

We hear her, Steve hears her, before he/we see her. "Anybody got a match?" Bogart doesn't reply, goes to his desk and from a distance of 12ft or so tosses the matches to her. 

In reality, "I missed it many times ... trembling."

 In the film, seeming barely to move, she flicks up her hand like a paw to catch them mid-air. 

Equally memorable are her lines - offhand, low-key - after she has kissed him: 
"You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow." 

This scene was shot some time before their affair began, but the audience already senses that it has stumbled into a story. 

Hawks sensed it, too. 

In the original screenplay, Bogart was intended to have an affair with the wife of the fugitive he rescues, played by Dolores Moran. 

Having seen the dailies, Hawks decided the chemistry between Bogart and Bacall was too strong, that no audience would ever believe he'd fall for another woman.

All of life is an accident in a way, Bacall always used to say.



  1. She lived a full life though.
    They always travel in threes. Wonder who is next...?

  2. Alex:
    It does seem like Three is the number of exits in life. Let us so live tomorrow that if it should be us, it will be the reverse of our birth -- where we will laugh and those around us will cry.

  3. Yes, sadly I have to agree with Alex. Terrible thought.

    Lauren Bacall was one of the most stunning woman I have ever seen. A goddess springs to mind. They simply don't make woman like that anymore.

    Very sad to hear this news so soon after Robin Williams.

    May she RIP.

  4. I loved her in The Shootist with John Wayne. With Bogart surcoming to cancer, she showed detrmination in making a film about a gunslinger dying of cancer. She will be missed.

  5. Wendy:
    It is startling so soon after Robin Williams, isn't it?

    I hope THE SHOOTIST was long enough after losing Bogey to cancer that it did not bring up too hurtful memories.

    I will miss her I know. Funny how the great actors and actresses get to be family in a sense. Today's celebrities will never be that I fear.

  6. I'm another big fan of Bacall, and love her role in Key Largo. Not sure if I've seen 'To Have and to Have Not', although I did read the novel by Hemingway. She was the essence of the female of film noir. She and Bogie played off each other very well.

    She was 'classy' and cool. RIP, Lauren (or Betty) Bacall. Loved this post, Roland. Too many great ones leaving this plane of existence.

  7. Yes, our world is poorer for her departure , but I suspect that her response to an outpouring of grief from people she didn't know would be biting.
    One of the things I most admired about her was her retention of a private life - not an easy thing for a star of her calibre.

  8. So sad that we have lost two icons in back-to-back days...

  9. So sad to lose another icon. She was both beautiful and talented.

  10. D.G.:
    Yes, the landscape of our dreams is being reduced. In KEY LARGO, she portrayed a courageous woman who spoke her mind to a murderous thug. I will miss her.

    Elephant's Child:
    I can see where she might say, "How can you mourn me when you don't know me?"

    We can mourn the woman who gave up her career to be with her ill husband, who traveled with him to be a part of his life as long as life would let her. We can mourn the woman who spoke her mind to Senator McCarthy on what a tyrant he was. We can mourn a mother who raised her children the best she knew how despite the criticisms.

    What stars like Ms. Bacall and Robin Williams sometimes do not see is that their lives, both personal and professional, cast ripples in the hearts of those who are drawn to what they represent.

    I will miss her in my world.

    It hits harder somehow when deaths like these come so close to one another.

    To me she reflected how to be elegant and alluring both at once -- and she had wit and spunk. Too little of that these days.

  11. She also had a third child with second husband Jason Robards. I've seen brief interviews with the children (adults, of course) she had with Bogart. They seemed quite nice.


  12. Janie:
    They could always trust her to be true. A rare thing these days.

    I have just read of the hurtful tweets to Zelda Williams -- so mean-spirited and petty and grasping that they have driven her from Twitter and Instagram. And we wonder why celebrities draw away from the public.

  13. I haven't watched many of her performances, but she sounds like an admirable woman who lived a full life.

  14. She seemed to be the very definition of sultry. She was just a nervous kid in that first movie, but she came across as a woman who knew herself and knew what she wanted. What a classic flick and a classic lady.