Friday, November 2, 2012

Now-The Incomparable Lauren Bacall

I recently watched a wonderful interview with the legendary actress Lauren Bacall. Interviewed by Robert Osborne on TCM's Private Screenings she discusses everything from meeting Humphrey Bogart on the set of her first movie (one of my favorite films, To Have and Have Not), her long career on stage in NYC and her amazing memories of Hollywood legends such as Frank Sinatra (her boyfriend after Bogart), Kirk Douglas, Harry Truman, Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, John Wayne and others.

In the late 1980's I found a copy of Lauren Bacall's 1978 autobiography, By Myself on a bookshelf at my high school boyfriend's house. His Mom had introduced me to some classic old films during weekends at their family's cabin in Wisconsin and when I found the book she told me to read it and then watch all of Lauren Bacall's movies. I read the book and fell in love with Bacall, with Bogart and with old Hollywood.

In the early 1990's shortly after the birth of my son, Bacall was on a book tour for her 2nd autobiography, Now. My son slept in my arms for hours while I waited in a small bookstore near Chicago to meet Bacall and have her sign my book. I'll never forget the first moment I saw her in person, she was about 70 years old and had aged beautifully with her striking cheekbones still prominent. She was dressed all in black with gold bracelets lining her wrists and gold rings on most of her fingers. She asked me my name in her deep smoky voice and signed my book while she asked about my son who was still sleeping in my arms. She was kind enough to sign both of my books including the tattered 1978 copy of her first autobiography that I still had and have reread so many times.

In the years since she's had a career resurgence in the Barbara Streisand movie The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) and more recently in movies with Nicole Kidman. Leave it to Bacall to have a fascinating career of over 60 years that began in a movie with Bogart when she was only 19 years old (To Have and Have Not), included a leading role with Marilyn Monroe (How To Marry a Millionaire), starred in a movie where she played one of the first lesbians seen in film (Young Man With A Horn), and continued on stage where she established herself on Broadway (winning 2 Tony awards) and she is still making movies today. Even with a legendary career, it's Bacall's personal life that is the stuff of fairytales...true love, tragic loss, single motherhood, triumph and sass. There is no one like her but every time I wear a vintage dress, faux furs or long gloves I feel a little bit like Bacall in the 50's and that's cool.

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