Hollywood's Golden Age Leading Lady Lauren Bacall Has Died at 89
Following the sudden, tragic suicide of comedian Robin Williams, the hits just keep on coming with news from THR that legendary leading lady Lauren Bacall, frequent co-star and real-life wife of Humphrey Bogart, has passed away at 89 years old. The sultry icon died yesterday morning after suffering a stroke in her home in New York City. Bacall is one of the last actresses still living from Hollywood's golden years, having starred in many classic films. Bacall's romance and career go hand-in-hand as she met Bogart before her first movie, Howard Hawks' To Have and Have Not in 1944, when she was 19, and Bogart was 44.
Following her first film, she moved on to Graham Greene's Confidential Agent, before reuniting with Bogart again for the classic The Big Sleep, based on Raymond Chandler's novel of the same name. They continued to work together for two more films in a row with Dark Passage, John Huston's classic film noir Key Largo and Bright Leaf. The couple were a forced to be reckoned with on the big screen and off, Bogart being a strong leading man and Bacall being a cool, smooth, sultry-voiced starlet. They were easily one of the most iconic Hollywood couples showbusiness has ever seen during their marriage of 11 years.
She boldly ventured into comedy in 1953 with good company as she starred in How to Marry a Millionaire with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable, two more icons from decades past. Other films in the 50s includes Written on the Wind Rock Hudson, Designing Women with Gregory Peck, The Gift of Love with Robert Stack and North West Frontier, a British drama. The 60s and 70s saw her share the screen with even more incredible actors like Sex and the Single Girl with Henry Fonda, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood, Harper with Paul Newman, the incredible ensemble of Murder on the Orient Express and John Wayne's final film The Shootist. That's an impressive array of co-stars to share the screen with.
More contemporary work includes films like The Fan, but for some time, she remained largely in active, choosing to spend time on Broadway and other stages, which many historians blame on the collapse of the old studio system. But thankfully, she stuck with film, resurging in the late 80s and early 90s with Mr. North and Misery, the Stephen King adaptation starring Kathy Bates. Other recent films included My Fellow Americans, Dogville, Diamonds, Presence of Mind and The Forger. Bacall also used her trademark voice in the English dubbed versions of Ernest & Celestine and Howl's Moving Castle.
Bacall didn't end up with an Oscar until she starred in The Mirror with Two Faces with Barbra Streisand, but she also received a lifetime achievement award from the Academy in 2010 for her place in the Golden Age of Hollywood, not to mention the Cecil B. DeMille award 17 years before that in 1993. Perhaps what's most admirable about Bacall is her decision to let herself age naturally and gracefully, never succumbing to vanity. While words like "legend" and "icon" are thrown around a lot today, Bacall truly fits both of those descriptions, and she will be missed. Rest in peace.