US film actress noted for her husky voice and smouldering screen presence.
Born in New York City, Betty Perske had taken dancing lessons for thirteen years and begun serious training at the American Academy of Dramatic Art when she made her stage debut in Johnny Two-by-Four (1942). After featuring as a model on the cover of Harper's Bazaar, she was offered a seven-year contract by the film director Howard Hawks, who renamed her Lauren Bacall. At twenty she made her screen debut opposite Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not (1944). The critics endorsed Hawks's hype of his new discovery as ‘Slinky! Sultry! Sensational!’ Bogart fell in love with her and after their marriage they made three more films together, The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947), and Key Largo (1948).
Following Bogart's death (1957) and her marriage (1961–69) to actor Jason Robards Jr, Bacall turned from film to stage, achieving considerable acclaim for her Broadway appearances in Goodbye Charlie (1959), Cactus Flower (1967), and Applause (1970–72), a musical version of All About Eve, which earned her a Tony Award. She returned to the screen successfully in Murder on the Orient Express (1974) and opposite John Wayne in The Shootist (1976), for which she received a British Academy Award. In 1981 Bacall turned again to the stage to win another Tony for Woman of the Year. During the 1990s she worked mostly on stage and in television but in 1997 her performance as Barbra Streisand's mother in The Mirror Has Two Faces earned her an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. In 1979 she published a best-selling autobiography with the appropriately ambiguous title Lauren Bacall, By Myself; in 1994 a second volume appeared, entitled Lauren Bacall, Now.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).