Lauren Bacall (89) passed away after a stroke on Tuesday Aug. 12, 2014. In her autobiography called, “By Myself.” Bacall wrote that she was brought to Hollywood by film director Howard Hawks at age 19. He was directing a new film called, “To Have and Have Not.” He cast her in the lead female role opposite Humphrey Bogart for Warner Brothers studios. Hawks wanted to create a new movie star in Bacall & he succeeded. She became an overnight sensation, but later claimed that she never reached that kind of success ever again.
She was put under a 7 year contract to Warner Brothers studio that was headed by Jack Warner. Bacall claimed that she went on suspension without pay because of bad scripts. She was by then, married to Bogart & the studio teamed her with him in three more films, “Dark Passage”, “The Big Sleep” & “Key Largo.” Their onscreen chemistry made them a favorite Hollywood couple. It also cemented Bacall as a sultry screen actress of 1940's movies.
In “By Myself”, Bacall wrote that she didn't want to be in movies. She wanted to be a Broadway star with her name on theater marquees. It wasn't until after Bogie died in 1957 that she moved back to New York & starred onstage in “Goodbye Charlie” 1959 & “Cactus Flower” 1965. She won two Tony awards for “Applause” 1970 & “Woman of the Year” 1981.
She has been honored of course in later years, the golden globes “Cecil B. DeMille” award came in 1993. The “Kennedy Center Honors” in 1997 & the “Honorary Oscar” in 2010. She was Oscar nominated for best supporting actress in “The Mirror has Two Faces” 1996, but did not win.
Bacall wrote in her book that she was always grateful to her husband Bogart for many reasons. He was 20 years older than her & taught her about life. He also introduced her to the world of entertainment & the legendary performers who inhabited it. She ended up working with legendary movie stars like, John Wayne in “Blood Alley” 1955 & “The Shootist” 1976. Gregory Peck in “Designing Woman” 1957. Kirk Douglas in “Young Man with a Horn” 1950. Gary Cooper in “Bright Leaf” 1950 & with Rock Hudson in “Written on the Wind” 1956.
In “By Myself”, Bacall doesn't talk much about her 1959 film, “Northwest Frontier” which was re-titled “Flame Over India” for U.S. theater audiences. It was one of her last lead roles in a movie. She carries the film because of her strong presence & the cool demeanor that made her a movie star in the first place. She came from an era where the Hollywood studio system made movie stars. That is long gone now. Bacall endures because of her work in that period when film stars were larger than life itself.