Hot Poppin' Culture News From New York City

Lauren Bacall, Legendary Hollywood Golden-Era Actress, Dies at 89

Heidelberg Conundrum Barnes Noble
Lauren Bacall, Legendary Hollywood Golden-Era Actress, Dies at 89 1 Listen to this article

Lauren Bacall during the heyday of her career in 1954 and in 2010 (inset) at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. (Photos via Getty)

Lauren Bacall during the heyday of her career in 1954 and in 2010 (inset) at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. (Photos via Getty)

Lauren Bacall, who epitomized Hollywood’s Golden Era in the 1940s and 1950s, died today (Aug. 12) at her home from a massive stroke. During her career she set a standard for glamor and cool sexuality in more than a dozen films with Hollywood’s top leading men.

During her heyday, her husky voice and sultry looks were her trademark.

She was one of the reigning queens of A-List actresses that included some of greatest in film history: Vivian Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, Joan Fountain, Ingrid Bergman, Judy Garland, Barbara Stanwyck, Katharine Hepburn and Joan Crawford.

Her romance with actor Humphrey Bogart was one of the biggest Hollywood love stories of her time. They married in 1946 and stayed together until his death in 1957.

Few actresses have had such a long and distinguished career. She always hated to be called a “legend” because the term connoted something from the past. Bacall worked almost to the day she died.

She recently voiced a character on the animated sit-com “Family Guy” playing Evelyn, a friend of Peter’s mom.

Bacall was born in 1924 in New York City, the only daughter of Jewish immigrants, according to her Web site. Her real name was Betty Joan Perske. Her father worked as a salesman; her mother was a secretary.

She won a beauty contest “Miss Greenwich” of 1942 and it led to her decision to become, at first, a dancer and later an actress. She enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and started appearing in small roles Off-Broadway.

Actress Lauren Bacall arriving in London with  husband Humphrey Bogart in 1951.  (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Actress Lauren Bacall arriving in London with husband Humphrey Bogart in 1951. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)


She was forced to leave school when she ran out of money, and turned to modeling. She had a perfect 34-26-34 figure that would serve her well in Hollywood.

She was discovered by actor Gregory Peck when she was 17. They remained close friends throughout his life. She landed a cover in Harper’s Bazaar and the wife of Director Howard Hawks recommended her for a screen test.

He paired the 19-year-old starlet with Bogart in her first leading role in the 1944 movie “To Have or Have Not.” The two married in 1946. She was 20 and he was 45. She was 35 when he died from cancer in 1957.

The became one of Hollywood’s darlings and starred together in several films: “The Big Sleep” (1946), “The Dark Passage” (1947) and perhaps their most famous, “Key Largo” (1948).

She also starred with most of the leading men of her day in such films as “Confidential Agent” (1945) with Charles Boyer, “Bright Leaf” (1950) with Gary Cooper, “Young Man with a Horn” (1950) with Kirk Douglas and “Blood Alley” (1950) with John Wayne.

After Bogart died, Bacall cut back on her film work and turned her attention to Broadway. She starred in a series of big hits: Goodbye, Charlie (1959), Cactus Flower (1965), Applause (1970) and Woman of the Year (1981). She won two Tony Awards.

She married actor Jason Robards, Jr. in 1961; they divorce in 1969. They have one son born in 1961. They were driven apart by Robards’ alcoholism, Bacall wrote in her autobiography.

Her film resume in the 1960s included such hits as “Sex and the Single Girl” (1964) with Henry Fonda, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood and “Harper” (1966) with Paul Newman, Shelley Winters, Julie Harris, Robert Wagner and Janet Leigh.

In 1974, she starred in “Murder on the Orient Express,” with Ingrid Bergman, Albert Finney and Sean Connery.

She was nominated for an Academy Award for her role 1997’s “The Mirror Has Two Faces” and received an honorary Oscar in 2009.

Lauren is survived by two children from her marriage to Bogart and one child from her marriage to Robards.

Subscribe To TheImproper's Email Newsletters, Free!