Half of one of the most famous Hollywood marriages, with a career that spanned seven decades, Lauren Bacall was one of the biggest stars in the Golden Age of Hollywood.
However, her early life was far from glamorous - she was brought up by a single mother in a deprived area of Manhattan, and when she left school she earned money as a theatre usher and a model in order to pay for her place at drama school.
A job modelling for the cover of a magazine brought her to the attention of a Hollywood producer who signed her to a seven year film contract and coached her in terms of style, elegance and gave her voice training. When she was only 19, she auditioned as Bogart’s leading lady in To Have and Have Not. She was so nervous in the test that in order to disguise the fact she was shaking, she held her head down and looked up at the camera, instantly creating her trademark ‘look’.
Bogie and Bacall
To Have and Have Not not only catapulted Bacall to stardom, it also heralded the beginning of her relationship with Bogart who was 25 years her senior. They married in 1945 and stayed together until his death from cancer in 1957.
Bogart and Bacall were not just a golden couple in real life, they were also one of the era’s most successful pairing in the movies. She appeared in four film noirs with Bogart, including The Big Sleep, which cemented her iconic status as an independent and sultry femme fatale.
In all, Bacall made over 30 films including Murder on the Orient Express, How to Marry a Millionaire and The Mirror Has Two Faces for which she had an Oscar nomination. In 2009, she was awarded an honorary Oscar to recognise “her central place in the golden age of motion pictures”.
She was also a great stage actress and won Tony Awards for Applause and Woman of the Year.
Bacall died of a massive stroke in 2014, just five weeks before her 90th birthday. However, she’d kept on working almost to the end - her final appearance was a guest starring role in the TV adult cartoon series Family Guy which is an indication of her versatility.
As a style icon, her look is still being recreated today. In 2015, the New York Fashion Institute of Technology hosted an exhibition of her clothes.
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