People make a difference in the world different ways. Some volunteer and some donate money and some are politically active and then there are those who simply make us feel good. Lauren Bacall (her friends called her by her birth name, Betty) certainly made us feel good! With her sultry looks and her husky voice it probably wouldn't have even mattered if she had talent, but Miss Bacall was overflowing with talent. I'll have to admit that when I heard of her death yesterday, I felt very sad.
One of the many things I liked about Lauren Bacall was she was willing to do it all. Her television game show appearances brought her a whole new audience who might not have seen her in those marvelous films she made like To Have and Have Not, Key Largo, The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, How to Marry a Millionaire, Designing Woman, and The Mirror Has Two Faces. If you didn't watch game shows either, perhaps you heard her voice on commercials. I especially loved hearing her tell us about Fancy Feast, even though I don't even have a cat. Oh yes, and there was her brilliant stage work! I was privileged to see her in Applause!
Perhaps her greatest role was herself. If you can remember the Hollywood witch-hunts and the blacklisting, you might also remember that her first husband, Humphrey Bogart had been a conservative Republican until she persuaded him to become a Democrat. Together they established the Committee for the First Amendment to damn those blacklists and to protect its victims. Lauren Bacall stuck her neck out then and she did so too when she played a lesbian in Young Man With A Horn. Taking "gay" roles were considered risky back then, but Miss Bacall never shied away from doing the right thing.
There was once a picture of my mother as a teenager that sat on a buffet at my grandmother's house. "Why do you have a picture of Lauren Bacall, Nana?" (I was an adult. I should have known). To me they looked a lot alike. They certainly both were great women!