Saturday, September 22, 2012

Style Icon - Lauren Bacall and "The Look"

The Look

One of my absolute favorite style icons is actress Lauren Bacall.  I became fascinated with Miss Bacall when I read her autobiography By Myself in 1978.  Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924 in Bronc, New York.  Betty's parents divorced when she was only five years old and she never saw her father again.  Betty decided to take her mother's maiden name which is Bacal when she was older.  However, Betty added an extra L at the end.  As Betty Bacall she work part time as a model.  The wife of movie director Howard Hawks saw Betty on the cover of Harpers Bazaar and urged her husband to bring her to Hollywood for a screen test.

     Lauren Bacall as a teenager working part time as a model.

Howard Hawks took his wife's advice and brought Betty Bacall out to Hollywood to screen test for The Have and Have Not.  Betty was nervous during the screen test, so to mask her nervousness Betty lowered her head so that her chin rested on her chest.  Then she moved her eyes upward to look into the camera.  The effect was what came to be known as "The Look".  It was mesmerizing and "The Look" became Lauren Bacall's trademark.

Young Lauren Bacall and director Howard Hawks.

Obviously Betty, who now also changed her name to Lauren got the female lead part in To Have and Have not starring Humphrey Bogart. 

 Bogart and Bacall wedding day.

Humphrey Bogart, who was married at the time to Mayo Methot took a liking to Lauren while filming To Have and Have Not and initiated a relationship with her.  Bogart divorced Mayo Methot and on May 21 1945, married Lauren Bacall.  Lauren was 20 and Bogart was 45.  Their marriage lasted until Bogart death in 1957.  It was a happy marriage and they had two children together.

Lauren Bacall turned down many scripts because she did not find them interesting, however she did go on to star in many successful movies such as The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, Key Largo, Young Man with a Horn, How to Marry a Millionaire, Petrified Forest and many others.  Lauren Bacall also worked successfully on the Broadway stage in New York City.

More of "The Look".

Even if Lauren Bacall did not inadvertently invent "The Look", she still had the classic look that was perfect for photographing. 

Lauren Bacall in later years.  As of this post Miss Bacall just celebrated her 88th birthday. 

 Lauren Bacall still looks beautiful.

In 2006 Lauren Bacall updated her autobiography in By Myself and Then Some.

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