Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall dead at 89

Lauren Bacall, one of the last remaining icons of Hollywood’s golden age, has died at her home in New York. She was 89. Bacall was best known for acting opposite her husband, Humphrey Bogart, in several 1940s classics including The Big Sleep, Key Largo and Dark Passage. Their 12-year marriage also made “Bogie and Bacall” one of the original Hollywood power couples.

Born Betty Jean Perske in September 1924, Bacall grew up as the only child of a Romanian-Jewish mother and Polish-Jewish father in New York’s Bronx district. In 1944, Howard Hawks came across one of her modelling shoots in Harper’s Bazaar and had her contracted to Warner Brothers. After a successful screen test, the celebrated director told her he intended to cast her alongside Bogart or Cary Grant. “I thought Cary Grant, great. Humphrey Bogart‚ yuck,” she would later recall.

Nevertheless, her first screen role was opposite Bogart in the 1944 adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s novel, To Have and Have Not, when she was 19 and Bogie 44. She made a deep impression on her co-star and audiences alike by delivering her most famous line in her uniquely husky voice: “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”

Bacall continued on in the film noir genre, with appearances in Bogart movies The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947), and Key Largo (1948), as well as comedic roles in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) with Marilyn Monroe and Designing Woman (1957) with Gregory Peck. Bacall worked on Broadway in musicals, earning 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 "in recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures."

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