Lauren Bacall: a touch of class

She was named ‘The Look’ after To Have and Have Not (1944), her debut film: she was so overawed during the tests that in order to minimize her quivering she pressed her chin against her chest and she faced the camera with her sultry upward looks, her self-confidence and beauty concealing a lack of acting experience. She was only 19 and she was a model at that time, having recently appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. She seduced Bogart before she seduced the audience and their great love story began on the set of the film.

Lauren Bacall took the silver screen by storm and was acclaimed on Broadway, winning two Tony Awards for her performances in Applause (1970) and Woman of the Year (1981). She has always exuded a unique grace. She taught Bogie to whistle with two fingers in To Have and Have Not, without sacrificing a drop of femininity. A femininity which was never overshadowed by her slightly boyish looks and always in control of things personality.

With her angular beauty, sharp wit, sensuous locks, her choice of simple, clean lines in clothes and distinctive poise, she emulated elegance and sexiness and the style of the 40s like no other. A great leading lady, at 87, Bacall proves to have liven up so well to one of her favourite quotes: ‘I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.’

above: The Look

photos: 1-Louise Dahl-Wolfe, 1943 / 2-publicity still The Big Sleep (1946) / 3-(scanned by me) from the book Bogie: A Celebration of the Life and Films of Humphrey Bogart – still from To Have and Have Not (1944), Warner Brothers/ John Engstead / 4-portrait for Key Largo, 1948, Warner Brothers / 5-portrait of Lauren Bacall, 1940s, via / 7-Jack Mitchell

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