Legendary film actress and model Lauren Bacall, 89, sadly passed away yesterday after suffering a stroke at the estate of her former husband Humphrey Bogart. Here we celebrate Hollywood’s original silver screen siren renowned for her husky voice and sultry looks.

Lauren Bacall was actually born Betty Joan Perske in September 16, 1924 to secretary Natalie Weinstein Bacal, who had emigrated to the US from Romania and salesman William Peske, who was born in New Jersey to Polish-bon parents.

Her parents divorced when she was five and Bacall was raised by her mum, having a very distance relationship with her father. She later adopted the Romanian version of her mother’s surname, Bacall.

While taking up work as a fashion model and theatre usher, Bacall attended the American Academy Of Dramatic Arts and made her acting debut on Broadway as Betty Bacall aged 17. Though it was only a walk on role in Johnny 2 x4 it was the start of something great.

She later starred in the theatre production Applause alongside Betty Davis, Bacall’s idol, who praised her on her thespian skills – “You know you’re the only one who can play this role,” said Davis.

She was later given the stage name of Lauren by director Howard Hawks, however friends always referred to her as Betty.

Her breakthrough role came in To Have And Have Not. She was 19 and petrified in auditions. To stop her quivering she tilted her chin toward her chest and looked upward in order to face the camera, and thus Bacall’s signature look was born.

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall and her signature look

It was during this film that she met Humphrey Bogart, who while married, struck up an affair with Bacall. they pair later married (see leading men below).

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart in a scene from the movie To Have and Have Not

By the 1950s Bacall was so famous she could pick and choose her roles however this entitlement fast gave her the reputation as being difficult. But that didn’t matter, not when she received critical acclaim for the roles she did choose.

By the 1960s her film career seemed to be waning, so returning to Broadway she earned herself two Tony awards.


Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable posing for a promotional photo for the movie How To Marry A Millionaire

Despite starring in movies since Hollywood’s Golden Age, it was only in 1997 that the actress was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in The Mirror Has Two Faces opposite Barbra Streisand.

In 2009, the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences awarded her an honorary Oscar “in recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures.”


Leading Men


Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart

Bacall married Humphrey Bogart when she was 20 and he was 45. They were married until his death  from cancer in 1957.  They had two children together.

Shortly after Bogart’s death, Bacall began a relationship with Frank Sinatra. In her autobiography she claims Sinatra abruptly ended their relationship after becoming angry that the story of his proposal hit the press.

In 1961 she married actor Jason Robards Jr. they divorced in 1969 with his drinking problems said to the reason behind the split. They had one child together.

Lauren Bacall Quotes

“I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.”

“Legends are all to do with the past and nothing to do with the present.

“Stardom isn’t a profession, it’s an accident.”

“Find me a man who’s interesting enough to have dinner with and I’ll be happy.”

“It’s inappropriate and vulgar and absolutely unacceptable to use your private life to sell anything commercially.” Ahem, take note Kim Kardashian


Story of the legend

Images: Kndynt2099/Flickr; The Comedy Store; TheAntiRoom; Wikimedia Commons