From the moment she puckered up in “To Have and Have Not,” Lauren Bacall was a formidable player whose every move was tracked in the pages of Variety.
The biz’s interest in all things Bacall only became more intense after the 20-year-old ingenue married her much older co-star, Humphrey Bogart, in May 1945, not long after the release of “To Have and Have Not.”
The long career of Bacall, who died Tuesday at age 89, has been well documented, but here are 10 things you didn’t know about her early years in Hollywood.
- The first mention of “Betty Bacall” came in the May 19, 1943, edition of Variety, with an item suggesting that director Howard Hawks scooped the model-turned-starlet off the street in midtown Manhattan. “Could actress Betty Bacall be slated for screen stardom. Howard Hawks nabbed her for fast buildup, right off 44th Street, too.”
- The day before Bogart and Bacall were married in Mansfield, Ohio, in May 1945, the two went to Chicago to take part in “I Am an American Day” festivities, an wartime effort to recognize recently naturalized U.S. citizens.
- Variety’s year in review for 1945 noted that with the end of Bogart’s tempestuous marriage to actress Mayo Methot, “war on the home front really ended” while Bogart’s “subsequent merger with Lauren Bacall wiped the World War off the front page.”
- Also in 1945, Bacall was voted the runner-up for the auspicious award of “Least Cooperative Actress,” bestowed by the Hollywood Women’s Press Club. The Golden Apple trophy went to Greer Garson. Fred MacMurray won for male actor.
- The following year, Bacall was given an honorary membership in the Mystery Writers of America org for her performance in the adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep.”
- In the spring 1946 Bacall and Bogart came to blows with Warner Bros. when both were suspended after refusing roles in the melodrama “Stallion Road.” They set sail on the yacht Santana, which they bought from Dick Powell, to wait out the suspension. Variety dubbed the standoff “Mutiny on the Santana.”
- Later that year, Bogart and Bacall moved into an L.A. house that had previously been owned by Hedy Lamarr and her actor husband, John Loder.
- The mere sight of Bacall “shopping at Magnins, in slacks, for sweaters” was enough to earn a prominent mention in the “Just for Variety” column in 1946.
- Bacall made headlines as much for the roles she refused as for those she took. She logged six suspensions during her six-year tenure at Warner Bros. Finally, in 1950, studio and star agreed to divorce. Bacall drove across town and signed a one-year deal with 20th Century Fox.
- Bogart and Bacall tried to be early adopters of TV. A story in the Oct. 28, 1953, edition of Daily Variety had Bogart declaring his plan to produce “telepix” under his Santana Prods. banner in which he and Bacall would star. “I see no reason why TV would kill me at the box office. I just don’t believe this argument at all,” Bogart opined. Once again, he was ahead of the curve, even if he wasn’t able to pull it off before his death in 1957.