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R.I.P. Lauren Bacall

She was born Betty Joan Perske in 1924, but the whole world knows her as Lauren Bacall, the woman who taught Humphrey Bogart how to whistle. Bogie and Bacall only made four movies together, but shortly after she starred with him in her first film, To Have and Have Not, they married. Bogie was 45 and Bacall was 20. They remained together until Bogart’s death in 1957.

Working with Bogart, 25 years her senior, the 19-year-old was so shy that she was often photographed with her head down, her eyes cast up— but that pose became known as The Look, a sultry trademark gesture to go with the equally sultry Voice. The chemistry between the pair was evident, unfolding on-screen as it did in real life. Within three weeks, the stars were having an affair. Seven months after the picture premiered, Bogart split from his third wife (actress Mayo Methot) and married Bacall. Their marriage produced two children and the most productive period of her career, including three more pictures together. There was The Big Sleep, the Raymond Chandler mystery in which society dame Bacall send's Bogie's sleuth Philip Marlowe reeling. There was Dark Passage, an innovative thriller in which the first half of the movie is seen from Bogart's point of view, so that pretty much all you see is Bacall through Bogie's eyes. And there was Key Largo, a sort of rewrite of their first movie, with Bogart and Bacall falling in love while standing up to gangster Edward G. Robinson. And that was all, but those were enough to ensure that Bogart and Bacall topped the all-time list of couples who sizzled on-screen as much as they did in private.

Bacall’s acting career spanned seven decades, and she appeared in the TV show Family Guy in 2014. The actress died of a stroke at her home in New York today. Lauren Bacall was 89 years old.


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