Notes from the woodcutter: Lauren Bacall
Editor’s Note: Loren Kantor often chooses Jews and Jewish themes as topics for his woodcuts. He’s agreed to share images from his work–and the stories behind them– with San Diego Jewish World. Actress Lauren Bacall is the first in this series.
By Loren Kantor
STUDIO CITY, California – Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart were one of Hollywood’s great classic couples. Born Betty Joan Perske in 1924 to Jewish immigrant parents, Bacall was known for her smoky voice and sultry, mysterious demeanor. She was discovered by the wife of director Howard Hawks who saw her on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar.
In 1944, Hawks brought Bacall to Hollywood to audition for his film To Have And Have Not. Nervous and quivering during the screen test, Bacall pressed her chin against her chest and tilted her eyes upward. This became known as “The Look,” Bacall’s trademark.
Bacall and Bogart fell in love while shooting To Have And Have Not. (Bacall was 19, Bogart 44.) Bogart divorced his wife Mayo Methot and married Bacall in 1945. The couple had two children and appeared in three more films together (The Big Sleep, Dark Passage and Key Largo.) In the mid 1950′s, Bacall cut down her film appearances while Bogart struggled with esophageal cancer. Bogart died in 1957 and Bacall was devastated. At Bogart’s funeral, Bacall put a whistle in his casket (a nod to her famous film line: “You know how to whistle, don’t you? You just put your lips together and blow.”)
In 1957, Bacall had a short relationship with Frank Sinatra and she later married actor Jason Robards (who resembled Bogart). Bacall’s career waned in the 60′s though she was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for The Mirror Has Two Faces. In 1972, she appeard in John Wayne’s last movie The Shootist. Despite their opposite political outlooks (Bacall was liberal, Wayne conservative), the two became great friends.
In 2006, Bacall made a cameo appearance in The Sopranos. In the episode she is robbed and beaten up and she utters two classic F-Bombs.
Bacall is first cousin to Shimon Peres, president and former prime minister of Israel.
At age 88 in 2012, Lauren Bacall remains healthy, active and opinionated.. Recently she said of the popular movie Twilight: “Yes I saw it, my granddaughter made me watch it, she said it was the greatest vampire film ever. After the ‘film’ was over, I wanted to smack her across her head with my shoe but I do not want a book called Grannie Dearest written about me when I die. So instead I gave her a DVD of Murnau’s 1922 masterpiece Nosferatu and told her, ‘Now that’s a vampire film!’”
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