Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Lauren Bacall left us a few days ago; as one of my friends on Facebook wrote,"They don't make them like her any longer." True, how true.
She will forever be linked with Humphrey Bogart and while that's part of the aura that surrounded her, Bacall was a spark plug on her own, although she never sought out publicity, like too many of today's stars. "Stardom isn't a profession, it's an accident," she once said and she meant it. She was a fine actress, but you had to think she would have been a terrific school teacher, nurse, accountant or whatever profession she selected - and she would have been very happy with her decision and her lot in life.
I've read accounts of how she never left the house when Bogie was in his final few weeks. He was quite ill and had very little to look forward to, but there was Bacall, treating his every need. Maybe that's not such a big deal, as most spouses would take care of their loved ones. But for Lauren Bacall, it was about having her priorities in order. "I put my career in second place throughout both of my marriages and it suffered. I don't regret it. You make choices. If you want a good marriage, you need to pay attention to that. If you want to be independent, go ahead. You can't have it all." How wonderful an attitude and how different from some of today's leading ladies who have been divorced numerous times.
I think what I loved most about her what that mysterious quality. She wasn't the sex symbol that a Rita Hayworth or Betty Grable was, but she was more. That deep voice of hers was really something and I loved the slightly distant nature she maintained in her most famous performances with Bogart in To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep. If Bogie was going to have her in those films, he had to earn it. Her beauty was earthy and sophisticated and always subdued. She had a lot more to offer than what met the eye.
She acted in too few films, especially after Bogart died, but maybe that's only my opinion, me a film lover. I'm sure for Bacall, she opted for just the proper number of films and stage appearances (she won Tony awards for her roles in Applause in 1970 and Woman of the Year in 1981). "I figure if I have my health, can pay the rent and I have my friends, I call it 'content'" she once said. How many stars have been so humble?
Several years ago at a dinner, some friends and I were discussing celebrities and when one particular actor's name was mentioned, one of our group said, "Now there was a man's man." The person next to him said, "I wonder if there's such a thing as a 'woman's woman'? Maybe Betty Bacall?"
Betty Joan Perske, R.I.P.