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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bacall's Big Sleep

Lauren Bacall (nee Betty Joan Perske) died last week, August 12th, at age 89. The iconic movie star is best remembered for her sultry style with a tough-as-nails edge.

According to Wikipedia, "During her screen tests for her first film To Have and Have Not (1944) Bacall was nervous that to minimize her quivering, she pressed her chin against her chest and to face the camera, tilted her eyes upward.This effect became known as 'The Look', and became Bacall's trademark."

She was married to leading man Humphrey Bogart, 25 years her senior, until his death in 1957. She starred in a series of silver screen successes throughout the 1940s and '50s, like The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, Key Largo (all with Bogart, along with To Have..., in which she delivers the famously suggestive line: "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and... blow."), How to Marry a Millionaire, Written on the Wind and several more.

In the 1960s, Bacall transitioned to the Broadway stage and won Tony Awards for her starring performances in Applause (1970) and Woman of the Year (1981). She previously headlined Goodbye, Charlie (1959) and Cactus Flower (1965).

Notable later films included Murder on the Orient Express (1974), the campy, so-bad-it's-good The Fan (1981), and a brief role in Misery (1990) with James Caan and Kathy Bates

“What a terrible loss for us all. First Robin [Williams] who was a genius and now Lauren,” said Barbra Streisand who co-starred with Bacall in The Mirror Has Two Faces. “It was my privilege to have known her, to have acted with her, and to have directed her. And, most of all, to have had her as a wise and loving friend. She was an original. Even with all those great films we can visit again and again, she will be missed.” Bacall received an Oscar nomination for her part in that film and was 1996's odds-on favorite. When Juliette Binoche won for The English Patient, Bacall was captured by cameras as being visibly shocked and outraged.

Known for being difficult and acid-tongued, the UK's Daily Mail wrote that, of Bacall's Marry a Millionaire co-stars, Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable, "She got on well with Grable, but Monroe exasperated her almost beyond endurance. She regarded her as selfish, ill-mannered and unprofessional, and found it hard to say anything polite about her even after her untimely death at the age of 36."

In her short marriage to actor Jason Robards Jr, whom she divorced due to his alcoholism, Bacall said, "I invited a few friends over to celebrate Jason’s 40th birthday, Jason showed up at 2am — loaded. I grabbed a bottle of vodka, smashed it into the cake and yelled: 'Here’s your goddam cake!'”

Between her marriages to Bogart and Robards, Bacall had an affair with Frank Sinatra who was married to Ava Gardner at the time. Gossip columnist Louella Parsons wrote that Bacall had confided she was engaged to Sinatra and he was going to get a divorce so they could marry.

When Ava Gardner read this item, she screamed at Frank, "Don't tell me you're actually gonna marry that bitch!" "Don't worry," said Frankie, "I ain't marrying no pushy broad!"

Bacall is the last Hollywood legend referenced in Madoona's "Vogue" to vogue her way to celluloid heaven.

Lauren Bacall passed away in NYC, at her longtime residence in The Dakota, due to complications from a stroke.

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