We here at LTBM said our farewells to comedian and actor Robin Williams this last week. However, I wanted to be sure to also recognize one of Hollywood’s intriguing ladies from the silver screen, Lauren Bacall. Being the eldest of our blog group I find that I have a different advantage over the other writers: age. Growing up I had a mother, grandparents, and great-grandparents that all enjoyed the classic movies. Our TV was often found on the channels that played the movies that were known before color was introduced to films.
Lauren Bacall was one of those captivating actresses that conveyed a sense of power and lure as her light gray eyes grabbed you from your set. It wasn’t until many years later that I discovered that she has what I grew up hearing referred to as cat-eyes: green at times, other times blue, and another glance seemed hazel. Bacall just had a presence from her eyes, to her raspy voice, and her well-practiced gaze.
She marked her path with her debut in To Have or To Have Not in 1944. Her agent saw great potential is this teenager and must have been positive in that because he cast her in that movie as a starring role along a well established actor, Humphrey Bogart.
During this movie their love affair began and continued until his death. It didn’t take long for the two to fall in love, marry, and start a family with a son and daughter. (She would later have a second son with her second husband.) Bogart and Bacall spent 12 years married and staring in multiple movies together before Bogart lost his battle with cancer. [tid-bit: Up until his death, Bogart referred to his beloved as “Baby”.]
As her second role, Bacall was then cast in 1946’s The Big Sleep, cashing in on their on-screen chemistry and partnership.
One of my favorite older films took her from previous serious characters to a comedic cast with another great, Marilyn Monroe, in the 1956 comedy How to Marry a Millionaire. It’s a good, clean comedy with classic humor.
Another favorite of mine is the 1976 western, The Shootist. This movie has a great cast: John Wayne (his last film before losing his battle to cancer), one of my all time favorites, Jimmy Stewart, a young Ron Howard, and giving up the glamour, make-up, and fancy wardrobe of Hollywood, Bacall gives a solid performance as a western woman.
Early on Bacall could be seen in usually one movie every year up through 2012. Some of the public thought there was a secret reason for this. No secret, her other passion was for Broadway and live audiences.
At times she would be so busy on Broadway that she would be gone from movies for years at a time. However, she never quit performing. Her greatest passion was for musical theatre where her voice and portrayals won her audiences over. (Interesting tid-bit: Bacall is credited for over a dozen songs used in soundtracks for movies 1944 to 2009.)
Bacall was one of the leading beauties of the silver age of movies. Her reputation even earned her a nod from pop singer Madonna in her song Vogue. [I can still remember that song becoming popular during my college years and having to explain who Bacall and a few others were to fellow college students.]
Throughout the years her Broadway life and film life kept busy. She always kept herself open for roles that intrigued her: My Fellow Americans, Birth, and The Forger to name a few that I have enjoyed.
One such role that ranks in the top romantic comedies genre for me is from a movie starring Barbara Streisand and Jeff Bridges. Bacall played the hard, but loving, and very glamorous mother, Hannah Morgan, to Barbara’s character in The Mirror Has Two Faces. This is a great love story and Bacall’s performance is top-notch.
She lived a life-time doing what she loved: performing on stage, recording songs for movie sound tracks, and bringing characters to life on screen. She’s a talent that will be missed.
As most of our regular readers know, we look at movies from a Christian perspective.
We don’t know if Lauren placed her trust in Jesus. Her faith is not in question here by us as writers.
The vapor that she spent on this Earth was one spent doing what she loved, but it was “like a vapor” (James 4:14).
We can only hope that her faith was in Jesus, as we hope all of our readers are. Jesus tells us, “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you into myself, that where I am, you may be also.” (John 14:1-3).
From all of us here at LTBM we give our thoughts and prayers to Lauren’s family: her 3 children and her grandchildren. We pray that they find comfort by drawing near to God.