It was a funny thing. Over the last week I have been helping my sister in her big move to the city of Melbourne (Australia). Like all upheavals of this nature, an exhausting experience and by the end of the week, I felt so tired, it was as if I had aged overnight and I looked it. Feeling a little less than positive about my appearance I decided to go have myself a small pity party for one. Vain? Yes, of course. Self indulgent? I’m afraid so.
With the unsettling feeling of age creeping up on me, I awoke on Tuesday to the sad news of Lauren Bacall passing away. Hearing this news although sad, changed my perspective almost instantly. Here was a woman who despite sadness and loss and many years of being alone, always appeared to hold herself with a healthy regard and with an air of confidence that is as admirable as it is inspiring.
I am sure a great beauty such as Lauren had days when she looked in the mirror and wished to see looking back at her the great hollywood beauty she once was, I am sure there were days she would liked to have turned back the clock. But if she did have those days, you would never have known. Here was a self assured and forthright woman who lived a wonderful life and to hell with anyone else who tried to change her or her liberal views on life.
So with all this in mind I couldn’t let the week go by without paying tribute to the now late, but fabulously great Lauren Bacall. A true icon of the golden age of hollywood. Much attention has been paid to this grand dames passing. As it should. So well respected, so revered and admired. I certainly have her right at the top of my favourite leading ladies who left a huge imprint on the celluloids she graced.
What was it about Lauren? Her impeccable style, her smokey, sultry voice, her on screen presence, the legacy of her marriage to Humphrey Bogart, her forthright approach to life, her confidence? Perhaps above all it was her dry, unforgiving wit and a way of not taking life too seriously.
One of my favourite movies (apart from the well known and much loved early movies with Humphrey Bogart), is the film Lauren made with Gregory Peck in 1957 (the year she lost Bogie to cancer), Designing Woman. The fashion and the style of the film brought to life by the talent of Helen Rose who at the time was the Chief Designer at MGM. In her words of Lauren. “Lauren Bacall has a perfect figure for clothes and a genuine feeling for them” (Helen Rose). Her style was fashion forward all the way and to this day still emulated by others.
In 1957, emerging from the role of carer for Bogie during his fight and the eventual premature loss of his life to cancer, Lauren was desperate to do something for herself once more. The film Designing Woman was on the horizon, but with Grace Kelly poised to take on the lead role.
On getting the part in Designing woman, Lauren remarks..
I fought for that part [in Designing Woman]; I wanted it badly. I took a lower salary, I did everything. Grace Kelly said, ‘I’ll never forgive you for playing that part. It was written for me.’ She got the prince, I got the part.
Despite all the harsh realities of life, perhaps what gave Lauren her enthusiasm was living a romantic version of her own life as she did as a child. Hers was a fantasy world where pretending made it all so much better than it was. This would be the beginning of a career as an actor.
Her early success at the tender age of 19 and then her marriage to Humphrey Bogart 26 years her senior, gave her a taste of what life had to offer. This early success never stopped Lauren from dreaming of what would be next, what else did life have in store for her. Lauren lived her dreams every day, in every film, in every stage role. Forever the optimist and with never the intention of not working in the profession she loved.
I am not a has-been. I am a will be..
…What is the point of working all your life and then stopping?
I love this woman, her strong and extraordinarily handsome face, every movie she has ever made, her determination. Lauren never really stopped working. That was Lauren’s answer to a happy life; never stop doing what you love.
I pay homage to this wonderful woman and her brilliant life.. and I leave you with one more final quote from Lauren and one that is quite fitting. (Given my earlier state of mind). It is a view I espouse, well, most of the time..
I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.
In her very own unapologetic way, Lauren refused to give a damn about what others thought, nor did she allow hollywood to mould her. She was truly authentic. This shining star was no accident. A true great.
See you next time..