Lauren Bacall (born Betty Joan Perske; September 16, 1924 August 12, 2014) was an American actor known for her distinctive voice and sultry looks. Known for her range as an actor, she could do everything from serious, Film Noir dramatic roles like The Big Sleep to ridiculous comedies of errors like 1953's How to Marry a Millionaire (with Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe).
Bacall's acting career could be best described as "right place, right time" or the idyllic lifestyle that any aspiring actor would want. After her parents separated when she was a child, her mother encouraged her to make it big in show business. Her name was changed and hair was dyed (the name "Perske" sounded too Jewish, apparently) and her film debut, To Have and Have Not alongside Humphrey Bogart, was one of the most successful of the year. She appeared in four movies in total with Bogart, whom she married despite being over twenty years younger than him.
Starting in The '60s, she stopped really appearing in films, but had a rather successful career on Broadway, starring in production such as Cactus Flower and Applause, and as a liberal activist. She also voiced the idents for PBS from 1996 to 2003 (in one version, Bacall herself appeared, as that set of idents had people like Chris Rock lifting a disc with the 'P-Head' symbol over their faces as small acrobats appeared around them). She lived for 53 years in the Dakota Apartments in New York City, and thus was John Lennon's neighbor before Lennon's murder.
Incidentally, Bacall was a first cousin of Shimon Peres, former Israeli president and prime minister, who won the Nobel Peace Prize with Rabin and Arafat for trying to fix the ArabIsraeli Conflict. Peres was born Szymon Perski. One wonders what their family reunions (if any) are like.
She died on August 12, 2014 at the age of 89 in New York City from a stroke.
- To Have and Have Not (1944)
- The Big Sleep (1946)
- Dark Passage (1947)
- Key Largo (1948)
- Bold Venture (radio series, 1951-52)
- How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
- The Cobweb (1955)
- Written on the Wind (1956)
- Designing Woman (1957)
- North West Frontier (1959)
- Sex and the Single Girl (1964)
- Harper (1966)
- Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
- The Shootist (1976)
- Misery (1990)
- The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)
- Dogville (2003)
- Ernest et Célestine (2012)
Her career displays examples of:
- Contralto of Danger: Bacall was known for her husky voice, which she acquired before the making of her first film. Director Howard Hawks was the one who taught her to lower her naturally high-pitched, nasal voice.
- Deadpan Snarker: Being closely associated with Film Noir after all, her characters tended to be snarky.
- Dye Hard: Naturally a brunette, she dyed her hair red as a career move, and stuck with it.
- Femme Fatale: She played this character a lot.
- Film Noir: The genre she is closely associated with.
- Last of Her Kind: She was one of a very select few members of The Golden Age of Hollywood who lived well into the 21st century. More specifically, of the 15 giants of Old Hollywood that Madonna name checks in the Dick Tracy-inspired song "Vogue", she was the last one to pass away.
- Ms. Fanservice: Was often the eye candy on the screen. Bacall herself didn't understand the attention she received because she saw herself as plain-looking and too tall with large feet.
- Promoted Fanboy: Bacall states that her marriage to Bogart helped her to mingle with many famous actors and celebrities that were eventually referred to as legends, despite being years younger than them. Some of them she'd even admired when she was a teenager in drama school.
- Romance on the Set: She and Humphrey Bogart met and fell in love while making To Have and Have Not.
- Sitting Sexy on a Piano: Bacall struck a relatively innocent version of this pose in a famous photo◊ with then-Vice President Harry Truman at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in 1945.
- Smoking Is Glamorous: One of the iconic cigarette smokers in Hollywood.
- Stage Name: Given to her by Howard Hawks. Her close friends called her "Betty," though, and Bogart called her "Baby."
- Star-Making Role: To Have and Have Not.
- Statuesque Stunner: Stood at 5'9", just one inch taller than her first husband and frequent costar, Humphrey Bogart.
- Tsundere: Her screen persona tended to run hot and cold, alternating between aloof and passionate.