Contemporary matte 8″ x 10″ photograph of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall on the set of the 1944 film To Have and Have Not (where they met), signed boldly by Bacall.
LAUREN BACALL (1924-) is an American film and stage actress and model. Known for her husky voice and sultry looks, she became a fashion icon in the 1940s and has continued acting to the present day.
Bacall studied acting for 13 years, taking lessons at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. During this time, she became a theatre usher and worked as a fashion model. As Betty Bacall, she made her acting debut on Broadway in 1942, in Johnny 2 X 4. 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 Bacall 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, and Nancy Hawks took Bacall under her wing, dressing her stylishly and guiding the newcomer 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. Her performance is acknowledged as one of the most powerful on-screen debuts in film history.
On the set, Humphrey Bogart, who was married at the time to Mayo Methot, initiated a relationship with Bacall some weeks into shooting and they began seeing each other. On May 21, 1945, Bacall married Humphrey Bogart. Bacall was 20 and Bogart was 45. They remained married until Bogart’s death from cancer in 1957.
Bacall is perhaps best known for being a film noir leading lady in films such as The Big Sleep (1946) and Dark Passage (1947), as well as a comedienne, as seen in 1953’s How to Marry a Millionaire and 1957’s Designing Woman. Bacall also enjoyed success starring in the Broadway musicals Applause in 1970 and Woman of the Year in 1981.
In 1999, Bacall was ranked as one of the 25 greatest female stars of all time by the American Film Institute.
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