The Mirror Has Two Faces
American actress Lauren Bacall, born Betty Joan Perske, first gained fame for her work with actor-husband Humphrey Bogart in such films as “To Have and Have Not” (1944), “The Big Sleep” (1946), “Dark Passage” (1947) and “Key Largo” (1948). Spotted by Howard Hawks' wife on the cover of Harper's Bazaar, the former Miss Greenwich Village continued to give memorable performances in films like “Young Man With a Horn”(1950), “How to Marry a Millionaire” (1953) and “Designing Woman” (1957, earned a Golden Laurel Award) before scoring stage success with her first Tony winning performance as Margo Channing in the Broadway musical “Applause” (1970), a role originated by Bette Davis in the 1950 film “All About Eve.” Bacall was handed an Emmy nomination in 1973 when she recreated the role for a CBS TV adaptation of the same name. The talented performer won her next Tony Award for her work in the musical “Woman of the Year” (1981). After “Prêt-à-Porter” (1994), where she jointly netted a National Board of Review Award, the legendary actress gained extensive acclaim for her scene-stealing role of Barbra Streisand's mother in “The Mirror Has Two Faces” (1996), directed by Streisand. The role brought Bacall a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actor Guild Award and a San Diego Film Critics Society Award and her Oscar nomination. More recently, she is known for playing roles in such movies as “Dogville” (2003), “Birth” (2004), “Manderlay” (2005), “These Foolish Things” (2006) and “The Walker” (2007).
Bacall's fans should not miss her impressive performance in the upcoming film “Wide Blue Yonder” (2008).
One of Empire magazine's “100 Sexiest Stars in Film History” (1995) and one of People magazine's “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” (1997), Bacall has been married twice. She was married to actor Humphrey Bogart from 1945 until his death in 1957 and then actor Jason Robards from 1961 to 1969. The marriages produced three children, Leslie Howard Bogart, Stephen Howard Bogart and Sam Robards (actor). After the death of Bogart, Bacall dated Frank Sinatra and they were once engaged before separating in the late 1950s. In the early 1970s, she was romantically linked with Len Cariou, her costar in “Applause.”
Bacall has published two autobiographies, “By Myself” (1978), which won a 1980 National Book Award, and “Now” (1994).
Childhood and Family:
Betty Joan Perske, who would later be famous as Lauren Bacall, was born on September, 16, 1924, in New York, New York. An only child, she was raised in a middle class family with her father, William Perske, working as a salesman and her mother, Natalie (Weinstein-Bacal) Perske, as an executive secretary. Her Jewish immigrant parents divorced when she was still a little girl. She then stopped seeing her father and grew up entirely under the guidance of her mother.
Young Betty was first interested in becoming a dancer and attended Highland Manor, a boarding school in Tarrytown, New York. By the time she was in high school, she had switched to acting and later attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. To support herself, she worked as a fashion model and an usher at Broadway shows.
On May 21, 1945, Betty married actor Humphrey Bogart, who was 25 years her senior. They met on the set of “To Have and Have Not” (1944), Betty's first film. She gave birth to the couple's first child, son Stephen Humphrey Bogart, on January 6, 1949. Their daughter, Leslie Howard Bogart, was born on August 23, 1952. Betty remained with her husband until January 14, 1957, when Bogart died of cancer. She next married Academy Award winning Jason Robards on July 4, 1961, but the bond ended on September 10, 1969. The couple shares a son named Sam Robards (born on December 16, 1961).
To Have and Have Not
A former usher in a theater, Lauren Bacall first performed in front of an audience in a Broadway production of “Johnny 2 X 4.” Also a model, she won the Miss Greenwich Village title and enjoyed national prominence with a cover shot for the popular publication “Harper's Bazaar.” Her photo caught the attention of the wife of film director Howard Hawks who eventually had the filmmaker put Bacall under his personal contract.
Under the direction of Hawks, Bacall made her motion picture debut as Marie “Slim” Browning in the thriller “To Have and Have Not” (1944), opposite her-soon-to-be-husband, Humphrey Bogart. The film showcased Bacall's sexiness and earned her the nickname “The Look.”
After costarring with Charles Boyer in Herman Shumlin's “Confidential Agent” (1945), which proved to be an unsatisfying project for Bacall, the actress regained her popularity with a reunion with Bogart in Hawks' mystery, “The Big Sleep” (1946). Her follow-up films with Bogart, the thriller “Dark Passage” (1947) and the crime/drama “Key Largo” (1948), kept Bacall in the spotlight. She was outstanding with notable performances in subsequent films like “Young Man With a Horn” (1950, as Amy North) and “How to Marry a Millionaire” (1953, as Schatze Page), which marked her first comedy performance. The latter film, where she costarred with Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe, was a smash hit in America. In between the films, she also acted in a drama film called “Bright Leaf” (1950), alongside Gary Cooper.
1955 saw Bacall reunite with husband Bogart for a TV version of “The Petrified Forest.” A tragedy struck two years later when her beloved husband passed away of throat cancer, a lost that left Bacall devastated. The following year, she was given a Golden Laurel for Top Female Comedy Performance for her bright turn as Marilla Brown Hagen in the comedy “Designing Woman” (1957), which was completed before the death of her husband. Her co-star in the film was Gregory Peck. Also in 1958, she returned to the big screen with “The Gift of Love,” opposite Robert Stack. The drama film proved to be a massive flop and in 1969, she made her last film for five years, “North West Frontier,” a British adventure/drama directed by J. Lee Thompson.
Bacall relocated to New York City after the failure of “The Gift of Love.” During her hiatus from film acting, she resumed her stage career and starred in her first Broadway play in 1959 in the comedy “Goodbye Charlie” and later, in 1965, she scored a lead in the Broadway hit “Cactus Flower,” which ran for several years. She revisited the cinematic industry in 1964 when she was cast in the supporting role of Dr. Edwina Beighley in “Shock Treatment,” starring Carol Lynley. She followed it up with another supporting part in the Tony Curtis/Natalie Wood vehicle “Sex and the Single Girl” before returning to a starring role in 1966's “Harper,” opposite Paul Newman.
Although her film appearances became more and more sporadic, especially after her second marriage to actor Jason Robards in the late 1960s, Bacall hit the big time on stage when she starred as Margo Channing in the Broadway musical “Applause” (1970), based on the 1950 comedy/drama movie “All About Eve,” which starred her idol, Bette Davis. She took home a Tony for Best Actress (Musical). After making her London stage debut with “Applause” (1972) and netting a Best Actress Emmy nomination in a 1973 CBS TV adaptation of the stage musical, Bacall made a victorious comeback to the big screen with Sidney Lumet's “Murder on the Orient Express” (1974), opposite Albert Finney. The mystery was a massive success at the box office. She then received a BAFTA nomination for her starring role in the Western film “The Shootist” (1976), which marked co-star John Wayne's last feature before his death in 1979. She made her first performance in a TV film in “Perfect Gentlemen,” where she costarred with Sandy Dennis and Ruth Gordon, and closed out the decade with a two-part guest spot in the crime series “The Rockford Files,” where she won her next Emmy nomination.
After starring as Sally Ross in the based-on-novel “The Fan” (1981), alongside James Garner, Bacall again took several years of a screen break. In the meantime, she appeared in several Broadway plays, most notably “Woman of the Year” (1981), adapted from a 1942 film of the same name, from which she picked up her second Tony Award. She also toured the country in the Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams' “Sweet Bird of Youth” (1985). Bacall did not make her return to film until 1988 when she portrayed Lady Westholme in the mystery “Appointment with Death,” with Peter Ustinov, and Mrs. Cranston in the comedy “Mr. North,” alongside Anthony Edwards and Robert Mitchum. The same year, she also narrated the PBS documentary about Humphrey Bogart, “Bacall on Bogart,” from which she shared an Emmy nomination. She next could be seen in the thriller film “Tree of Hands” and the made-for-TV film “Dinner at Eight” (both 1989).
The 1990s proved to be a busy time for Bacall. She played the supporting role of Beatrix Coltrane in the television film “A Little Piece of Sunshine” (1990) and went on to support James Caan and Kathy Bates in Rob Reiner's drama, “Misery” (1990), playing Marcia Sindell. She also hosted the TNT TV special “Kisses” (1991). After appearing in “All I Want for Christmas” (1991), she gave a fine performance opposite Gregory Peck in the made-for-TV film “The Portrait” (1993) and shared a National Board of Review for Best Acting by an Ensemble for her work in Robert Altman's “Prêt-à-Porter” (1994), where she appeared as Slim Chrysler.
However, Bacall did not enjoy big success until Barbra Streisand cast her in the role of Hannah Morgan in her comedy film, “The Mirror Has Two Faces” (1996). Playing the mother of Rose (played by Streisand), she was handed a Golden Globe, a Screen Actor Guild and a San Diego Film Critics Society for Best Supporting Actress and earned Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Satellite nominations. Later that same year, she appeared with Jack Lemmon and James Garner in the comedy film “My fellow Americans.”
The rest of the 1990s saw roles in such films as the French drama “Day and Night” (1997), “Diamonds” (1999, with Kirk Douglas), “The Venice Project” (1999) and “Presence of Mind” (1999). She also had a recurring role as Samara Visco Klein in two episodes of CBS' medical drama, “Chicago Hope” (1998), acted in the CBS miniseries “Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke” (1999) and returned to Broadway to star in “Waiting in the Wings” (1999).
After a brief absence from acting, Bacall resurfaced in 2003 to star with Claire Forlani in the crime movie “The Limit,” helmed by Lewin Webb, and appear with Nicole Kidman and Harriet Andersson for the Lars Von Trier acclaimed black comedy “Dogville” (2003), where she memorably portrayed Ma Ginger. She reunited with Kidman to play the actress' mother in Jonathan Glazer's interesting drama, “Birth” (2004). Her more recent film credits are the animated “Firedog” (2005, played the voice of Posche), “Manderlay” (2005), “These Foolish Things” (2006, starred Anjelica Huston) and Paul Schrader's “The Walker” (2007, opposite Woody Harrelson and Kristin Scott Thomas).
The 84-year-old performer will play May in the upcoming “Wide Blue Yonder” (2008), a comedy directed by Robert Young and starring Brian Cox.
“I am still working. I've never stopped and while my health holds out, I won't stop.” Lauren Bacall
Stockholm Film Festival: Lifetime Achievement Award, 2000
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival: Life Achievement Award, 1998
Berlin International Film Festival: Berlinale Camera, 1997
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards: Lifetime Achievement Award, 1997
Golden Globes: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” 1997
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” 1997
San Diego Film Critics Society: Best Supporting Actress, “The Mirror Has Two Faces,” 1996
National Board of Review: Best Acting by an Ensemble, “Prêt-à-Porter,” 1994
Golden Globes: Cecil B. DeMille Award, 1993
San Sebastián International Film Festival: Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award, 1992
National Board of Review: Career Achievement Award, 1991
Tony: Best Actress, Woman of the Year, 1981
Tony: Best Actress (Musical), “Applause,” 1970
Hasty Pudding Theatricals: Woman of the Year, 1967
Laurel Awards: Golden Laurel - Top Female Comedy Performance, “Designing Woman,” 1958