15 reasons we will always love Lauren Bacall

15 reasons we will always love Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall was a superstar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Born Betty Joan Perske in New York on 16 September 1924. She is impossible to forget for her distinctive husky voice, sultry stare, and epic love affair with Humphrey Bogart. She passed away at the age of 89 on 12th August 2014 but we will always remember her style, talent and beauty.

1. To Have and Have Not, 1944 
Lauren Bacall’s breakthrough performance in the 1944 Warner Bros picture, To Have and Have Not, is still acknowledged as one of the best film debuts in cinema history. The 19-year-old Bronx native was scouted by Warner bigwigs on the lookout for the next big female star. More specifically, they needed an actress who could match the magnetism – and insolence – of Humphrey Bogart. Bacall was perfect in her performance, and left Bogart astounded and smitten.

2. The ‘Look’ 
Seduction personified, Bacall coined ‘The Look’ during screen tests for To Have and Have Not. The alluring stare was achieved as the result of a shy tendency to press her chin to her chest. With almond-shaped eyes peeking through long lashes, she made an immediate impact.

3. Humphrey Bogart 
The romance between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall lasted a little over a decade, yet it remains as enduring as the films they starred in together. The Hollywood love story began while the pair filmed To Have and Have Not. At the time 45-year-old Bogart was married. Within two years he was divorced and had married Bacall, who was 25 years his junior. They had two children together and remained wed until his death in 1957. “I fairly often have thought how lucky I was. I knew everybody because I was married to Bogie, and that 25-year difference was the most fantastic thing for me to have in my life,” Lauren Bacall told Vanity Fair in 2011. 

4. Enduring Icon 
In 1995 Lauren Bacall was named Empire magazine’s sixth sexiest star in film history. Two years later Peoplelisted Bacall among their 50 Most Beautiful People in the World. This wasn't the first time her beauty was awarded. In 1942, she was named ‘Miss Greenwich Village’ and ‘Prettiest Usher’ of the 1942 theatre season.

5. Rat Pack Royalty 
Bacall was one of the founding members of the Hollywood Rat Pack. She even coined the term ‘rat pack’ and was referred to as ‘den mother’ by fellow members Frank Sinatra, Swifty Lazar and, of course, her husband Humphrey Bogart.

6. An alluring muse
Lauren Bacall was one of four Hollywood starlets (along with Veronica Lee, Rita Hayworth and Julie London) who inspired the cartoon character Jessica Rabbit.

7. Thoughts on Ageing 
Bacall opted to age gracefully, and her musings on maturing are heart-warming: "I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.” - Lauren Bacall

8. Fearless Negotiator 
Forcing Bacall’s hand was like forcing a concrete slab across the beach. Indeed, her refusal to star in the film Storm Chase saw her suspended an astounding seven times. An article from the Reading Eagle, published in 1949, stated, "Lauren Bacall has become a storm center at Warner Brothers studio because she refuses to appear in a picture by that name.” In response to her suspension she said, “This makes the fifth or sixth time Mr. Warner has suspended me. I told him he had a fine picture (in ‘Storm Center’), but I didn’t think the part was for me. I thought he understood me at that time. I guess he didn’t.”

9. Risqué roles 
When many actresses are cast aside or relegated to grannie roles, Bacall relaunched her career when she featured in a number of provocative roles. She starred in Lars Von Trier’s cult classic Dogville (2003), followed by the 2005 thriller Birth.

10. Self Deprecating yet Stylish 
Never afraid to laugh at herself, Bacall lent her voice to the hit animation series Family Guy. Additionally, the down-to-earth beauty played herself in a 2006 episode of The Sopranos, where she was mugged and stripped of her awards show goodie bag.

11. Stylish Dame 
Lauren Bacall knew how to wear a tailored suit. Always elegant and seductive, her ‘come-hither’ gaze was just as mesmerising as both the masculine style suits and figure-hugging gowns she favoured.

12. Roses are Red
Few things are sexier than a woman in a suit and a slick of bright red lipstick. No matter what she wore, red lipstick was a common accompaniment to Bacall’s overall look. Now that is classic style.

13. Presidential Pause 
Marilyn wasn’t the only movie star who sang for a President. In an act of sassy seduction, the starlet sat atop a piano as U.S. Vice President Truman was playing. The event took place while Bacall was visiting Washington in 1945.

14. The Big Sleep, 1946 
Bacall’s portrayal of the beguiling Vivian Rutledge set the tone for the rest of her career. Her unflappable charm makes this a film you can enjoy again and again.

Glamarous as always - Lauren Bacall in 'The Big Sleep'

15. Key Largo, 1948 
The usually seductive Bacall assumed a more demure, dutiful part in the steamy Florida thriller Key Largo. Sporting long skirts cinched at the waist with tight belts, it was the last on-screen collaboration between Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. 

What was your favourite Lauren Bacall character? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by Louise Smithers. Republished with permission of