While still reeling from the death of Robin Williams yesterday, the world has lost another of its legendary performers, screen and stage siren Lauren Bacall, who passed away today in New York at age 89. Noted for her sultry looks and smoky voice, Bacall was one of the last remaining links to the Golden Age of Hollywood, thanks in part to her famed marriage to another screen legend Humphrey Bogart, who died in 1957, and for her own stellar acting career.
Discovered while working as a model, Bacall made her film debut at 19 opposite 45-year-old Bogart in To Have and Have Not. Despite the age difference the two created fireworks on screen and off.
Bacall went on to star in many movies that have become favorites of her gay and lesbian fans, including 1953’s sparkling How to Marry a Millionaire (opposite two other icons, Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable), the 1956 melodrama Written on the Wind as Rock Hudson’s love interest, 1957’s colorful Designing Woman, the so-awful-it’s wonderful horror film The Fan in 1981 and, perhaps most notably, as the mother of Barbra Streisand’s character in the 1996 comedy The Mirror Has Two Faces. Bacall received her only Oscar nomination for this role and was considered a shoo-in, but lost in a surprising defeat to Juliette Binoche for The English Patient. In 2010, Bacall was the recipient of an honorary Academy Award “in recognition of her central place in the Golden Age of motion pictures.”
An old school broad with a tough personality, Bacall also made a huge impression on Broadway in 1970’s Applause, a musical adaptation of All About Eve, and in 1981’s Woman of the Year.
And just in case you haven’t read your Facebook newsfeed this evening, Bacall was the last living legend to be name-checked during Madonna’s rap in her classic “Vogue.”
Watch Bacall perform “But Alive,” a musical number set in a gay bar, from Applause below.