stage actress and model, known for her distinctive husky voice and sultry looks.
She first emerged as leading lady in the Humphrey Bogart film To Have And Have Not (1944) and continued on in the film noir genre, with appearances in The Big Sleep (1946) and Dark Passage (1947), as well as a comedienne in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) and Designing Woman (1957). Bacall has also worked on Broadway in musicals, gaining a Tony Awards for Applause in 1970 and Woman of the Year in 1981. Her performance in the movie The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) earned her a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination.
In 1999, Bacall was ranked #20 of the 25 actresses on the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Stars list by the American Film Institute. In 2009, she was selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to receive an Academy Honorary Award at the inaugural Governors Awards.
Early lifeBorn Betty Joan Perske in New York City, Bacall was the only child of Natalie Weinstein-Bacal, a secretary who later legally changed her surname to Bacall, and William Perske, who worked in sales. Her parents were Jewish immigrants, their families having come from Poland, Romania, and Germany. She is first cousin to Shimon Peres, current President and former Prime Minister of Israel. Her parents divorced when she was five, and she took her mother's last name, Bacall. Bacall no longer saw her father and formed a close bond with her mother, whom she took with her to California when she became a movie star.
CareerAmerican Academy of Dramatic Arts. During this time, she became a theatre usher and worked as a fashion model. As Betty Bacall, she made her acting debut, at age 17, on Broadway in 1942, as a walk-on in Johnny 2 X 4. According to her autobiography, she met her idol Bette Davis at Davis' hotel. Years later, Davis visited Bacall backstage to congratulate her on her performance in Applause, a musical based on Davis' turn in All About Eve."
Bacall became a part-time fashion model. Howard Hawks' wife Nancy spotted her on the March 1943 cover of Harper's Bazaar and urged Hawks to have her take a screen test for To Have and Have Not. Hawks invited her to Hollywood for the audition. He signed her up to a seven-year personal contract, brought her to Hollywood, gave her $100 a week, and began to manage her career. Hawks changed her name to Lauren Bacall. Nancy Hawks took Bacall under her wing. She dressed the newcomer stylishly, and guided her in matters of elegance, manners and taste. Bacall's voice was trained to be lower, more masculine and sexier, which resulted in one of the most distinctive voices in Hollywood. In the movie, Bacall takes on Nancy's nickname “Slim."
BreakthroughTo Have and Have Not (1944), Bacall was nervous. To minimize her quivering, she pressed her chin against her chest and to face the camera, tilted her eyes upward. This effect became known as "The Look", Bacall's trademark.
On the set, Humphrey Bogart, who was married to Mayo Methot, initiated a relationship with Bacall some weeks into shooting and they began seeing each other.
National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on February 10, 1945, Bacall's press agent, chief of publicity at Warner Bros. Charlie Enfield, asked the 20-year-old Bacall to sit on the piano which was being played by Vice-President of the United States Harry S. Truman. The photos caused controversy and made worldwide headlines.
After To Have and Have Not, Bacall was seen opposite Charles Boyer in the critically panned Confidential Agent (1945). Bacall would state in her autobiography that her career never fully recovered from this film, and that studio boss Jack Warner did not care about quality. She then appeared with Bogart in the film noir The Big Sleep (1946), the thriller Dark Passage (1947) and John Huston's melodramatic suspense film Key Largo (1948). She was cast with Gary Cooper in the period drama Bright Leaf (1950).
1950sBacall turned down scripts she did not find interesting and thereby earned a reputation for being difficult. Yet, for her leads in a string of films, she received favorable reviews. In Young Man with a Horn (1950), co-starring Doris Day and Kirk Douglas, Bacall played a two-faced femme fatale. This movie is often considered the first big-budget jazz film.[ During 1951-52, Bacall co-starred with Bogart in the syndicated action-adventure radio series Bold Venture.
CinemaScope comedy How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), a runaway hit that saw her teaming up with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable. Bacall got positive notices for her turn as the witty gold-digger, Schatze Page. According to her autobiography, Bacall refused to press her hand- and footprints in the cemented forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre at the Los Angeles premiere of the film.
Written on the Wind, directed by Douglas Sirk in 1956, is now considered a classic tear-jerker.Appearing with Rock Hudson, Dorothy Malone and Robert Stack, Bacall played a determined woman. Bacall states in her autobiography that she did not think much of the role. While struggling at home with Bogart's severe illness (cancer of the esophagus), Bacall starred with Gregory Peck in the screwball comedy Designing Woman and gained rave reviews. It was directed by Vincente Minnelli and released in New York City on May 16, 1957, four months after Bogart succumbed to cancer on January 14.
1960s and 1970sBacall's movie career waned in the 1960s, and she was only seen in a handful of films. On Broadway she starred in Goodbye, Charlie (1959), Cactus Flower (1965), Applause (1970) and Woman of the Year (1981). She won Tony Awards for her performances in the latter two. The few movies Bacall shot during this period were all-star vehicles such as Sex and the Single Girl (1964) with Henry Fonda, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood, Harper (1966) with Paul Newman, Shelley Winters, Julie Harris, Robert Wagner and Janet Leigh, and Murder on the Orient Express (1974), with Ingrid Bergman, Albert Finney and Sean Connery. In 1964, she appeared in two acclaimed episodes of Craig Stevens's CBS drama, Mr. Broadway: first in "Take a Walk Through a Cemetery", with then husband Jason Robards, Jr. and Jill St. John, and then as Barbara Lake in "Something to Sing About", with Martin Balsam as Nate Bannerman.
For her work in the Chicago theatre, Bacall won the Sarah Siddons Award in 1972 and again in 1984. In 1976, she co-starred with John Wayne in his last picture, The Shootist. The two became friends, despite significant political differences between them. They had previously been cast together in 1955's Blood Alley.
Later careerDuring the 1980s and early 1990s, Bacall appeared in the poorly received star vehicle The Fan (1981), as well as some star-studded features such as Robert Altman's Health (1980), Michael Winner's Appointment with Death (1988), and Rob Reiner's Misery (1990). In 1997, Bacall was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role in The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996), her first nomination after a career span of more than fifty years. She had already won a Golden Globe and was widely expected to win the Oscar, which went to Juliette Binoche for The English Patient.
Bacall received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1997. In 1999, she was voted one of the 25 most significant female movie stars in history by the American Film Institute. Since then, her movie career has seen a new renaissance and she has attracted respectful notices for her performances in high-profile projects such as Dogville (2003) and Birth (2004), both with Nicole Kidman. She is one of the leading actors in Paul Schrader's 2007 movie The Walker.
In March 2006, Bacall was seen at the 78th Annual Academy Awards introducing a film montage dedicated to film noir. She also made a cameo appearance as herself on The Sopranos, in the April 2006 episode, "Luxury Lounge", during which she was punched and robbed by a masked Christopher Moltisanti.
In September 2006, Bacall was awarded the first Katharine Hepburn Medal, which recognizes "women whose lives, work and contributions embody the intelligence, drive and independence of the four-time-Oscar-winning actress", by Bryn Mawr College's Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center. She gave an address at the memorial service of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr at the Reform Club in London in June 2007.
Bacall is the spokesperson for the Tuesday Morning discount chain. Commercials show her in a limousine waiting for the store to open at the beginning of one of their sales events. She is currently producing a jewelry line with the company, Weinman Brothers. She previously was a celebrity spokesperson for High Point (coffee) and Fancy Feast cat food.
Bacall was selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to receive an Honorary Academy Award. The award was presented at the inaugural Governors Awards on November 14, 2009.
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Relationships and familyOn May 21, 1945, Bacall married Humphrey Bogart. Their wedding and honeymoon took place at Malabar Farm, Lucas, Ohio. It was the country home of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield, a close friend of Bogart. The wedding was held in the Big House. Bacall was 20 and Bogart was 45. They remained married until Bogart's death from esophageal cancer in 1957. Bogart usually called Bacall "Baby," even when referring to her in conversations with other people. During the filming of The African Queen (1951), Bacall and Bogart became friends of Bogart's co-star Katharine Hepburn and her partner Spencer Tracy. Bacall also began to mix in non-acting circles, becoming friends with the historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and the journalist Alistair Cooke. In 1952, she gave campaign speeches for Democratic Presidential contender Adlai Stevenson. Along with other Hollywood figures, Bacall was a staunch opponent of McCarthyism.
Shortly after Bogart's death in 1957, Bacall had a relationship with singer and actor Frank Sinatra. She told Robert Osborne, of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), in an interview that she had ended the romance. However, in her autobiography, she wrote that Sinatra abruptly ended the relationship, having become angry that the story of his proposal to Bacall had reached the press. Bacall and her friend Swifty Lazar had run into the gossip columnist Louella Parsons, to whom Lazar had spilled the beans. Sinatra then cut Bacall off and went to Las Vegas.
Bacall was married to actor Jason Robards from 1961 to 1969. According to Bacall's autobiography, she divorced Robards mainly because of his alcoholism. In her autobiography Now, she recalls having a relationship with Len Cariou, her co-star in Applause.
Bacall had a son and daughter with Bogart and a son with Robards. Her children with Bogart are her son Stephen Humphrey Bogart (born January 6, 1949), a news producer, documentary film maker and author; and her daughter Leslie Bogart (born August 23, 1952), a yoga instructor. Sam Robards (born December 16, 1961), her son with Robards, is an actor.
Bacall has written two autobiographies, Lauren Bacall By Myself (1978) and Now (1994). In 2005, the first volume was updated with an extra chapter: "By Myself and Then Some".
Year Title Role Notes
1944 To Have and Have Not Marie 'Slim' Browning
1945 Confidential Agent Rose Cullen
1946 The Big Sleep Vivian Sternwood Rutledge
1946 Two Guys from Milwaukee Herself uncredited cameo
1947 Dark Passage Irene Jansen
1948 Key Largo Nora Temple
1950 Young Man with a Horn Amy North
1950 Bright Leaf Sonia Kovac
1953 How to Marry a Millionaire Schatze Page
1954 Woman's World Elizabeth Burns
1955 The Cobweb Meg Faversen Rinehart
1955 Blood Alley Cathy Grainger
1956 Patterns Lobby lady near elevators uncredited
1956 Written on the Wind Lucy Moore Hadley
1957 Designing Woman Marilla Brown Hagen Golden Laurel Award for Top Female Comedy Performance (third place)
1958 The Gift of Love Julie Beck
1959 North West Frontier Catherine Wyatt
1964 Shock Treatment Dr. Edwina Beighley
1964 Sex and the Single Girl Sylvia Broderick
1966 Harper Elaine Sampson
1973 Applause Margo Channing
1974 Murder on the Orient Express Mrs. Harriet Belinda Hubbard
1976 The Shootist Bond Rogers Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
1978 Perfect Gentleman Mrs. Lizzie Martin
1980 Health Esther Brill
1981 The Fan Sally Ross
1988 Appointment with Death Lady Westholme
1988 Mr. North Mrs. Cranston
1989 John Huston: The Man, the Movies, the Maverick documentary
1989 The Tree of Hands Marsha Archdale
1989 Dinner at Eight Carlotta Vance
1990 Misery Marcia Sindell
1991 A Star for Two
1991 All I Want for Christmas Lillian Brooks
1993 The Portrait Fanny Church
1993 The Parallax Garden
1993 A Foreign Field Lisa
1994 Prêt-à-Porter: Ready to Wear Slim Chrysler National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
1995 From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
1996 The Mirror Has Two Faces Hannah Morgan Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
1996 My Fellow Americans Margaret Kramer
1997 Day and Night Sonia
1999 Get Bruce documentary
1999 Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke Doris Duke (elderly)
1999 Madeline: Lost in Paris Madame Lacroque voice
1999 The Venice Project Countess Camilla Volta
1999 Presence of Mind Mado Remei
1999 Diamonds Sin-Dee
1999 A Conversation with Gregory Peck documentary
2003 The Limit (aka. Gone Dark) May Markham
2003 Dogville Ma Ginger
2004 Howl's Moving Castle Witch of the Waste voice
2004 Birth Eleanor
2005 Manderlay Mam
2006 These Foolish Things Dame Lydia
2007 The Walker Natalie Van Miter
2008 Eve Grandma
2008 Scooby-Doo and the Goblin King The Grand Witch voice
2009 Wide Blue Yonder May post-production
2010 Firedog Posche voice
2010 Carmel post- production
1955 Motion Picture Theatre Celebration (1955)
Amália Traída (Amália Betrayed) (2004)
Selected stage appearances
January Two by Four (1942)
Goodbye Charlie (1959)
Cactus Flower (1965)
V.I.P. Night on Broadway (1979) (benefit concert)
Woman of the Year (1981)
Angela Lansbury: A Celebration (1996) (benefit concert)
Waiting in the Wings (1999)
What's My Line (1953)
The Petrified Forest on Producers' Showcase (1956)
Ford Star Jubilee (1956, 1 episode)
Perfect Gentlemen (1978)
Lions, Tigers, Monkeys and Dogs (Rockford Files) (1979)
Dinner at Eight (1989)
A Little Piece of Sunshine (1990)
The Portrait (1993)
The Parallax Garden (1993)
It's All in the Game (Columbo) (1993)
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1995)
6th PBS ident (1996) as announcer
7th PBS ident (1998) as announcer; older woman in red shirt
Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke (1999)
The Sopranos (2006)
Wonder Pets (2009) special guest voice
Bold Venture (1951–52); with Humphrey Bogart. Exact number of episodes recorded is unknown, but upwards of 50.