September 16, 1924-August 12, 2014
As I reflect on the life of legendary actress and author, Lauren Bacall, I am struck by the life of this remarkable woman. Married to actor Humphrey Bogart, her star was eclipsed by the legend of his fame and untimely death from lung cancer in 1957. With Bogart, she stared in such classic films as Key Largo and To Have and Have Not. However, as a widow with two small children, she continued to make a career for herself in such notable films as The Shootist with John Wayne (his last) and The Mirror Has Two Faces with Barbara Streisand, for which she received an Academy Award nomination.
She began her career as a model, being discovered by director Howard Hawks after appearing on the cover of Harper’s Bizarre. Her trademark upwards gaze came from her nervousness: In order to steady her head in front of the camera, she put her chin down and looked up at the camera. Her tall frame and distinctive deep voice made her stand out from the crowd of actresses, but her talent made her shine and endure. Film wasn’t the only place her acting took her to new heights: she won Tony Awards in 1970 and 1981 for Applause and Woman of the Year respectively.
As she began to turn down more film roles, she settled into life in New York and wrote her National Book Award-winning memoir, By Myself, which she composed without the aid of a ghostwriter. In 2006, she released an updated By Myself and Then Some. Her career failed to slow, starring in the made-for-tv miniseries, Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke with Richard Chamberlain in 1999, and working as recently as March in an episode of Family Guy.
Bacall died in her home on Tuesday, August 12, from a massive stroke. She leaves behind two children, Stephen and Leslie from her marriage to Bogart and Sam from her marriage to legendary actor Jason Robards. Her talent and zest for life will be missed by audiences around the world, but her star will shine bright forever on the big screen.