Dead, Lauren Bacall, born Betty Joan Perske, an American actress known for her distinctive voice and sultry looks died on August 12, 2014 at 89, five weeks short of her 90th birthday she died after suffering a massive stroke.
Born on September 16, 1924, she was named the 20th greatest actress of the 20th century by the American Film Institute, and received an Academy Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2009, “in recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures.”
The only child of Natalie, née Weinstein-Bacal (1901–1977), a secretary who later legally changed her surname to Bacall, and William Perske, who worked in sales, both her parents were Jewish.
According to Bacall, her mother emigrated from the Kingdom of Romania through Ellis Island, and her father was born in New Jersey, to parents who were born in an area of Poland which was referred to as Vistula Land, in the Russian Empire.
She was educated with the financial support of her wealthy uncles at a private boarding school founded by philanthropist Eugene Heitler Lehman, named The Highland Manor Boarding School for Girls, in Tarrytown, New York, and at Julia Richman High School in Manhattan.
She made her acting debut on Broadway in 1942, at age 17, as a walk-on in Johnny 2 X 4. By then, she lived with her mother on Bank Street, Greenwich Village, and in 1942 she was crowned Miss Greenwich Village.
Lauren entered modeling and, because of her beauty, appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, one of the most popular magazines in the US.
The wife of famed director Howard Hawks spotted the picture in the publication and arranged with her husband to have Lauren take a screen test.
As a result, which was entirely positive, she was given the part of Marie Browning in To Have and Have Not (1944), a thriller opposite the great Humphrey Bogart, when she was just 19 years old.
After filming Designing Woman (1957), which was released in 1957, Humphrey Bogart died on January 14 from throat cancer.
Devastated at being a widow, Lauren returned to the silver screen with The Gift of Love (1958) in 1958 opposite Robert Stack.
The production turned out to be a big disappointment. Undaunted, Lauren moved back to New York City and appeared in several Broadway plays to huge critical acclaim.
Lauren was away from the big screen for five years, but she returned in 1964 to appear in Shock Treatment (1964) and Sex and the Single Girl (1964).
The latter film was a comedy starring Henry Fonda and Tony Curtis. In 1966, Lauren starred in Harper (1966) with Paul Newman and Julie Harris, which was one of former’s signature films.
Alternating her time between films and the stage, Lauren returned in 1974’s Murder on the Orient Express (1974).
The film, based on Agatha Christie’s best-selling book was a huge hit. It also garnered Ingrid Bergman her third Oscar. Actually, the huge star-studded cast helped to ensure its success.
Bacall and Bogart, who was 25 years her senior, soon fell in love. Bogart was married at the time, and, within months, after some back and forth, divorced his wife.
Bacall and Bogart married on May 21, 1945 in Ohio. The marriage was generally a happy one, though it did put a hold on Bacall’s career.
“I think many directors never thought of me except as Bogie’s wife,” she explained. In 1957, Bogart died of lung cancer. Bacall was devastated.
After a short and disastrous fling with Frank Sinatra, including a very brief engagement, Bacall went east to return to her very first love, the theatre.