Lauren Bacall, promotional photos for The Big Sleep.
Director: Howard Hawks, 1946.
Candid photo of 16 year-old Lauren Bacall, in 1940.
The spring before high school ended, Betty Kalb and I had read that Bette Davis was coming to New York. She always stayed at the Gotham Hotel. Travelling with her was her friend Robin Byron, who also happened to be a friend of my Uncle Jack. I called and asked him — begged him — to call Robin and try to arrange for me to meet my idol. While waiting for the answer, Betty Kalb and I stalked the Gotham Hotel. One afternoon when we were sulking in the lobby, Bette Davis came in — walked directly to the elevator. We rushed in after her and tremblingly rode to the tenth floor with her. She was wearing a small black hat, her hair was pulled back with a black ribbon — she was smaller than I’d thought she’d be, but that face was there, just as I’d seen it magnified so many times so far away on the screen. We stared at her openly. When the elevator stopped at ten, she got out. We asked the elevator operator to stop at eleven, rushed for the staircase, run down one flight only to see her back as she walked through the door of her suite. We laughed weakly and waited awhile to compose ourselves before facing the questioning eyes of the elevator operator. But Bette Davis was wonderful — everything we had imagined. We had to meet her, we’d die if we didn’t.
“Baby, I do love you so dearly and I never, never want to hurt you or bring any unhappiness to you - I want you to have the loveliest life any mortal ever had. It’s been so long, darling, since I’ve cared so deeply for anyone that I just don’t know what to do or say. I can only say that I’ve searched my heart thoroughly these past two weeks and I know that I deeply adore you and I know that I’ve got to have you. We just must wait because at present nothing can be done that would not bring disaster to you.”
- Humphrey Bogart’s letter to Lauren Bacall (2)
“Katharine Hepburn was mysterious, wonderful — offering her considerable self and her incredible personality that was totally there for you even in the second balcony. She was so beautiful — and so funny and so touching. And the play was so good and funny. The leading men were new names to me — Joseph Cotten, Van Heflin. Shirley Booth played the second female lead. Hepburn’s clothes were floating, graceful — her hair was shoulder length and shining — she was glorious — the theatre was filled with laughter. To be able to give such joy!
Would I ever be able to do that? I thought. It was one thing to make people in a room laugh, especially relatives. But to do the same for strangers was quite another. Katharine Hepburn that afternoon made me glad to be alive — and sure that being an actress was the only goal in life.”
Lauren Bacall on seeing Katharine Hepburn in the play version of The Philadelphia Story.
Lauren Bacall gives a kiss to her husband, Humphrey Bogart, at the 24th Annual Academy Awards after he won an Oscar for his role as Charlie Allnut in The African Queen,1951.