Screen legend Lauren Bacall dies

MICHAEL IDATO
Last updated 13:46 13/08/2014
The Sydney Morning Herald

Hollywood icon and veteran actress Lauren Bacall has died after suffering a massive stroke at her home in Los Angeles.

Bogart, Bacall
SCREEN LEGENDS: Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, in 1944 movie To Have and Have Not.
Lauren Bacall
Reuters
HOLLYWOOD SCREEN LEGEND: Lauren Bacall has died aged 89.

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Lauren Bacall dies, aged 89

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Lauren Bacall, the slinky, sultry-voiced actress who created on-screen magic with Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep and off-screen magic in one of Hollywood's most storied marriages, has died at age 89.

Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924. The 89-year-old star of more than 60 films was best known for her distinctive husky voice.

Bacall was the star of dozens of films from Hollywood's "golden age", including The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947), How to Marry A Millionaire (1953) and Key Largo (1948).

When she made her film debut - at the age of 19, playing opposite her future husband Humphrey Bogart in the film To Have and Have Not - her star exploded in Hollywood.

In the film, Bacall spoke the now-legendary flirtacious line which stayed with her throughout her career: "You don't have to say anything, and you don't have to do anything, not a thing," she said. "Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and ... blow."

Bacall married twice, first to Bogart in 1945 until his death in 1957, and later to actor Jason Robards jnr in 1961.

She had three children, Stephen Humphrey Bogart and Leslie Bogart, and Sam Robards, who run the Bogart Estate, which has since confirmed her death. Her daughter, Leslie Bogart, said no other information was available, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Though Hollywood tried to pair Bacall with a string of leading men, including Kirk Douglas, Gary Cooper, Clifton Webb and Richard Widmark, none ever re-captured the chemistry she shared with "Bogey", as she called him.

In addition to To Have and Have Not, Bacall and Bogart played opposite each other in Dark Passage and Key Largo.

In her autobiography By Myself, Bacall said there had been no "lightning bolt" when she and Bogart met.

"There was no clap of thunder, no lightning bolt, just a simple how do you do," she wrote. "Bogart was slighter than I imagined‚ five-foot-ten-and-a-half, wearing his costume of no-shape trousers, cotton shirt and scarf around his neck. Nothing of import was said‚ we didn't stay long‚ but he seemed a friendly man."

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During her life, Bacall wrote two autobiographies, Lauren Bacall By Myself, which was published in 1978, and Now, which was published in 1994.

Bacall was one of Hollywood's most honoured actresses, first winning a Tony Award in 1970 for her role in the musical Applause. In 1993 she was the recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille honorary Golden Globe award and in 2009 was the recipient of an honorary Academy Award.

During the 1980s Bacall's film career was a mixture of B-movies and literary classics, such as Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, with Albert Finney, Sir John Gielgud and Ingrid Bergman, and another Christie thriller, Appointment with Death, with Peter Ustinov, Carrie Fisher and Hayley Mills.

She would, however, go on to give one more career-defining, dazzling screen performance, in the 1996 film The Mirror Has Two Faces, directed by (and starring) Barbra Streisand. In it, Bacall played Hannah Morgan, the over-bearing mother of Streisand's shy, plain Rose.

The role won Bacall a Screen Actors Guild award and a Golden Globe award in 1997. She was also nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA for the role.

Bacall was one of the last actors tied to the Hollywood "studio player" contract system. Under that system actors would be contracted directly to a studio, and would star only in films developed by them.

Though that system was in decline, Bacall infamously bucked it. She was, according to reports, "suspended" by Warner Bros on seven occasions for objecting to the poor quality of scripts she was being offered while tied to the studio leash.

When she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in 1993, she said the acting profession had given her "everything I ever wanted, and more than I dreamed possible."

"It gave me people, actors, writers, directors, friendship ... access and accessibility, made the impossible possible," she said. "Just imagine my luck at being part of a profession I had fantasised about since childhood."

"Seeing those film clips, and remembering everyone involved in each movie, I owe so much to so many," she added. "And it's an un-repayable debt."

As well as a high-profile stage and film career, Bacall was politically active.

In 1952 she campaigned for Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson in the US presidential elections, and in 1964 she campaigned for Robert Kennedy in his run for the US senate.

She retained her distinct political voice throughout her life; in 2005 she told interviewer Larry King she was "the L word", referring to "liberal".

TMZ broke the news, quoting an unnamed family source, and trade website The Hollywood Reporter also confirmed her death.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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