Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924, in New York City. Her parents were middle-class, with her father working as a salesman and her mother as a secretary. They divorced when she was five. When she was a school girl, Lauren originally wanted to be a dancer, but later, she became enthralled with acting, so she switched gears to head into that field. She had studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York after high school, which enabled her to get her feet wet in some off-Broadway productions.
Once out of school, Lauren entered modeling and, because of her beauty, appeared on the cover of Harper's Bazaar, one of the most popular magazines in the US. The wife of famed director Howard Hawks spotted the picture in the publication and arranged with her husband to have Lauren take a screen test. As a result, which was entirely positive, she was given the part of Marie Browning in To Have and Have Not (1944), a thriller opposite the great Humphrey Bogart, when she was just 19 years old. This not only set the tone for a fabulous career but also one of Hollywood's greatest love stories (she married Bogart in 1945). It was also the first of several Bogie-Bacall films.
Bacall became a part-time fashion model. Howard Hawks's wife Nancy spotted her on the March 1943 cover of Harper's Bazaar and urged Hawks to have her take a screen test for To Have and Have Not. Hawks invited her to Hollywood for the audition. He signed her up to a seven-year personal contract, brought her to Hollywood, gave her $100 a week, and began to manage her career. Hawks changed her name to Lauren Bacall. Nancy Hawks took Bacall under her wing. She dressed the newcomer stylishly, and guided her in matters of elegance, manners, and taste. Bacall's voice was trained to be lower, more masculine, and sexier, which resulted in one of the most distinctive voices in Hollywood. In the movie, Bacall takes on Nancy's nickname “Slim”.
During screen tests for To Have and Have Not (1944), Bacall was nervous. To minimize her quivering, she pressed her chin against her chest and to face the camera, tilted her eyes upward. This effect became known as 'The Look', Bacall's trademark.
On the set, Humphrey Bogart, who was married to Mayo Methot, initiated a relationship with Bacall some weeks into shooting and they began seeing each other.
According to her autobiography, Bacall refused to press her hand- and footprints in the cemented forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre at the Los Angelespremiere of the film.
Bacall turned down scripts she did not find interesting and thereby earned a reputation for being difficult. Yet, for her leads in a string of films, she received favorable reviews. In Young Man with a Horn (1950), co-starring Doris Day and Kirk Douglas, Bacall played a two-faced femme fatale, with more than a hint of lesbianism to her character.
My Personal Favorite!!: When you talk about a great actor, you're not talking about Tom Cruise. Ha - I LOVE this one!
A man's illness is his private territory and, no matter how much he loves you and how close you are, you stay an outsider. You are healthy.
A woman isn't complete without a man. But where do you find a man - a real man - these days?
Find me a man who's interesting enough to have dinner with and I'll be happy.
I am essentially a loner.
I am not a has-been. I am a will be.
I don't sit around thinking that I'd like to have another husband; only another man would make me think that way.
I figure if I have my health, can pay the rent and I have my friends, I call it 'content.'
I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.
I used to tremble from nerves so badly that the only way I could hold my head steady was to lower my chin practically to my chest and look up at Bogie. That was the beginning of The Look.
I wish Frank Sinatra would just shut up and sing.
I'm not a sedentary person. I've always been active.
Imagination is the highest kite one can fly.
In Hollywood, an equitable divorce settlement means each party getting fifty percent of publicity.
It's inappropriate and vulgar and absolutely unacceptable to use your private life to sell anything commercially.
Looking at yourself in a mirror isn't exactly a study of life.
Stardom isn't a profession; it's an accident.
They're guys who want to screw around all the time, which interests me not at all. God knows we've done that, been there, and we don't want to do that any more.
You can't start worrying about what's going to happen. You get spastic enough worrying about what's happening now.
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