WEIRDLAND: Happy Anniversary, Lauren Bacall! Bogart's Baby

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Happy Anniversary, Lauren Bacall! Bogart's Baby

Happy Anniversary, Lauren Bacall!

“There is no way Bogie and I could be in the same room without reaching for one another and it just wasn’t physical. Physical was very strong but it was everything — heads, hearts, bodies, everything going at the same time,” Bacall wrote. The secret of their happiness is something that they shared both on screen and off: “Chemistry — you can’t beat chemistry,” Bacall told People in 2007. Even their kid agreed! “Everyone could see their love right there on celluloid,” Stephen Bogart wrote of his parents’ scenes in To Have and Have Not. “He was the great love of her life, and she his.”

In her memoir, Bacall candidly recounted what went down when “Bogie had to see his Baby… what it felt like to be so wanted, so adored! No one had ever felt like that about me,” she wrote. “It was all so dramatic, too. Always in the wee small hours when it seemed to Bogie and me that the world was ours — that we were the world. At those times we were.”

And it perhaps went deeper than that for this actress with admitted daddy issues: “Bogie was kind of my father. He showed me the way,” Bacall told Vanity Fair in 2011. “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,” she added.

The pair’s fame transcended mere movie stardom; in their own way, they also came to represent changing post-war gender roles. According to A.M. Sperber and Eric Lax’s 1997 biography of the actor, “Bogart was, by the early 1940s, one of the top movie stars in the world and also a timely symbol of post–Pearl Harbor America: Tough but compassionate, skeptical yet idealistic, betrayed yet ready to believe again…”

Bacall, meanwhile, embodied the strong, independent modern American woman — one audiences had rarely witnessed on the silver screen. Her essence is summed up in Joseph McBride’s book, Hawks on Hawks, in which the legendary director Howard Hawks wonders aloud: “Do you suppose we could make a girl who is insolent, as insolent as Bogart, who insults people, who grins when she does it, and people like it?” The answer proved to be a resounding yes, with success at the box office and public adoration alike.

And so Hawks instructed the Bronx teenager — born Betty Joan Perske — “to sass men,” according to The New Yorker’s Richard Brody. “Bacall, at 19, was already fast and knowing. When her character calls out Bogart’s lines a step ahead of him, it doesn’t seem scripted,” noted Brody.

“The only cause my husband Humphrey Bogart ever gave me to be jealous was not of a woman but of a boat — a racing yacht called the Santana,” joked Bacall in her memoir. Their jet-setting romance — and Bogart’s Oscar-winning career — took them all over the world: Palm Springs, where they crashed at Frank Sinatra’s house, Venice, Rome, even the Congo, where Bogie filmed The African Queen. “The movie won him an Academy Award, and that night we were so happy,” Bacall recalled. “Bogie had his yacht, me, success, our son... and now our second child was on the way.”

None other than John Huston read the eulogy at Bogart’s funeral. “Bogie was lucky at love and he was lucky at dice,” said the veteran director. “He got all that he asked for from life, and more. We have no reason to feel any sorrow for him — only for ourselves, for having lost him.”

But ultimately, Bacall maintained an attitude of gratitude until the end. “He taught me his philosophy of life,” she wrote. “He taught me the rules of the Hollywood game. He taught me the usage and abusage of actors, called stars by the press, which couldn’t have cared less what happened to any of us…. We were expendable — he taught me that, too. He taught me about standards and the price one must pay to keep those standards high.”

Bacall said she was partly inspired to write her memoirs because she hoped Bogart would be remembered as a man with “so many, many layers that, as well as I knew him, I’m sure I never uncovered them all.” Even now, a year after Bacall’s death at age 89, more than a half-century after Bogart’s, we have only begun to grasp the complexity of her own inimitable and unforgettable character, not to mention her legendary love story. Source:

Bogart once wrote, “Each of my wives has been an actress. Betty’s a good one as well as a good-looking one. I guess it would be plain hell to marry a bad actress. I never could have stood that. Of course, when an actor marries an actress, their differences usually develop into something more intense than they started out to be. You find you are playing a dramatic scene. And some of the arguments I’ve had in my time in married life have gone on long after either of us remembered what the tiff was about. I guess we were each thoroughly enjoying a leading role.”

The relationship progressed in platonic fashion until one day about three weeks into the shooting of To Have and Have Not, Bogie came by Bacall’s dressing room to say goodnight. “He was standing behind me,” Bacall said. “We were joking, the way we always did. Then suddenly he leaned over and he placed his hand under my chin. He lifted my face toward his and he kissed me. It was very romantic, very sweet really, and [Bogie was] quite shy about the whole thing. Then he took an old matchbook out of his pocket and asked me to write my phone number on it.”

In 1953 Bogart did an interview for the London Daily Mirror and he talked about “four real hot babes that stand way out in my twenty-five years of movie making.” The four were Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, and, of course, Lauren Bacall: "Lauren Bacall, well sure, she’s Mrs. Bogart. But she doesn’t figure in my favorite foursome just because of that. She’s a big beautiful baby who’s going to make a big name for herself in the business. She’s bright, brainy and popular with women as well as men. Look at that face of hers. There you’ve got the map of Middle Europe slung across those high cheekbones and wide green eyes. As an actress she hasn’t got a lot of experience. It’s going to take a long time to get it. But Baby is going to get there. As a woman she holds all the cards. She’s beautiful, a good mother, a good wife, and knows how to run a home. She’s a honey blonde and in her high heels she comes up to the top wrinkle in my forehead. She’s got a model’s figure, square shoulders, and a kid’s waist. Met her in the film To Have and Have Not then afterward we made The Big Sleep. After that film I said, ‘That’s my baby,’ and I’ve called her Baby ever since.”

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