Lauren Bacall, who has died aged 89, was one of the few remaining stars from Hollywood’s golden era. Spotted modelling in New York at the age of 19, she was groomed for stardom by director Howard Hawks.
It was his 1944 film To Have and Have Not that made her name and introduced her to Humphrey Bogart - although the Manchester Guardian’s reviewer wasn’t bowled over by her performance.
Bacall married Bogart in 1945, and their home became the heart of the Rat Pack, the exclusive New York gang that counted Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracey and Swifty Lazar among its members. Bacall was dubbed the Den Mother.
Life with Bogart was never dull - in 1949 he was arrested for injuring a woman in a fight over a stuffed panda on a night out, though the charge was quickly dropped. The couple co-starred in several more noir films, including The Big Sleep - the Manchester Guardian said she “sulked impressively in a gallery of handsome attitudes.”
Bacall began to forge a career away from the shadow of her well-known husband. One of her most famous roles was in the 1954 comedy How to Marry a Millionaire, with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable - though again, the Guardian’s reviewer was more interested in her appearance than her acting.
After Bogart’s premature death in 1957, Bacall struggled with a young family but continued to work off and on, eventually making a triumphant return to acting on Broadway. Reviewing Applause in 1970, Alistair Cooke wrote that “Bacall defuses and obliterates every other talent on stage. She can toss a line like a dart and leave it twanging in the bull’s eye.”
Bacall told her it had taken a decade to recover from Bogart’s death - “it takes a long time to realise what’s hit you and a much longer time to accept it” - but that, after a career hiatus during her marriage to Jason Robards, she was finally enjoying her success and looking to the future. “Bogey said himself that dead is dead and life is for the living and you’ve got to move on...I agree with him.”