Lauren Bacall, the husky-voiced actress who bewitched the silver screen during Hollywood’s Golden Age and remained an active icon of stage and screen well into her 80s, died today of a stroke at her home, TMZ reported. The Humphrey Bogart Estate confirmed the reports “with deep sorrow, yet with great gratitude for her amazing life.”
With deep sorrow, yet with great gratitude for her amazing life, we confirm the passing of Lauren Bacall. pic.twitter.com/B8ZJnZtKhN— BogartEstate (@HumphreyBogart) August 12, 2014
Bacall ascended to fame with her leading role in the 1944 romance To Have and Have Not opposite Bogart. The pair began a relationship on set and were married until Bogart’s death from esophageal cancer in 1957. Their partnership was legendary both off and on-screen and included noir benchmarks like Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep (1946), Delmer Daves’ Dark Passage (1947) and John Huston’s Key Largo (1948). Her sultry looks and deep voice lent themselves perfectly to the punchy dialogue and dark moods of those ‘40s crime masterpieces.
But Bacall was equally legendary for her comic work in 1953’s How to Marry a Millionaire alongside Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable, or 1957’s Designing Women with Gregory Peck. She also won two Tony Awards for leading roles in the musicals Applause (1970) and Woman of the Year (1981).
Long ignored by the Academy Awards, Bacall was finally nominated for an Oscar for her turn as Barbara Streisand’s steely mother in The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) but lost to Juliette Binoche for The English Patient in what was seen as the biggest surprise of the night. Bacall later won an Honorary Academy Award in 2009 acknowledging “her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures.”
Bacall married Jason Robards after Bogart’s death but divorced him in 1969. She had two children with Bogart and one with Robards, all three of whom survive her; Sam Robards, her son with Jason, is himself an actor.
Bacall never stopped working or taking on projects that challenged her, making appearances in films as eclectic as Lars Von Trier’s Dogville, Jonathan Glazer’s Birth and Paul Schrader’s The Walker in the last ten years. She was also memorably punched in the face in an episode of The Sopranos where she played herself.
Throughout her career, Bacall exuded the kind of screen charisma that other actors had to battle to stand out alongside, and in the ‘40s and ‘50s was a uniquely smoldering screen presence in an era where most leading ladies had to exude an air of sexuality and danger. But despite her legendary partnership with Bogart, her career could not be defined by any one era she occupied; she moved through Hollywood history and adapted to its demands while remaining singularly herself, a legend even among the most famous onscreen icons.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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