Lauren Bacall

Scotty Welbourne/

Another inimitable Hollywood legend is gone.

Lauren Bacall, the sultry-voiced actress who enjoyed a six-decade career and delivered one of the most memorable lines in cinematic history in her first-ever film, has died. She was 89.

"You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve?" a 19-year-old Bacall asked future husband Humphrey Bogart in 1944's To Have and Have Not, which marked her screen debut. "You just put your lips together and blow." (Her wiggle at the end of the movie was no slouch, either.)

Their love story, which survives both of them, is of course the stuff that romantic dreams were made of—they married in 1945 and went on to also costar in The Big Sleep, Dark Passage and Key Largo

"With deep sorrow, yet with great gratitude for her amazing life, we confirm the passing of Lauren Bacall," the Bogart estate first confirmed via Twitter. She suffered a stroke Tuesday morning and died peacefully in New York, according to Robbert de Klerk, a co-managing partner of the Bogart estate. 

Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Key Largo

© SNAP/Entertainment Pictures/

Of course, it wasn't exactly love at first sight when Bogie met Bacall, but we'll take our mythology where we can get it.

In fact, Bacall later said that, when director Howard Hawks told her that he wanted to star her either opposite Bogart or Cary Grant, she replied, "Cary Grant—terrific! Humphrey Bogart—yuck." 

Not to mention, Bogart was married when he first spied the young ingenue.

"I don't know how it happened. It was almost imperceptible," Bacall wrote in her 1978 autobiography Lauren Bacall: By Myself about their increasing chemistry on the set of To Have and Have Not.

Lauren Bacall, To Have and Have Not

Warner Bros.

About three weeks after they started shooting, she recalled being in her dressing room and "he was standing behind me—we were joking as usual—when suddenly he leaned over, put his hand under my chin and kissed me."

From there was born "Bogie & Bacall," a go-to allusion for anyone reaching for an example of enduring, fated love.

But Bacall's career—anchored in part by her beauty, that husky voice and her signature "look" but given longevity by her sharp wit and charisma—flourished without her other half as well.

In addition to being a smart, sassy and always sexy film noir heroine, she was known for comedic (yet still whip-smart) roles alongside Marilyn Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire, opposite Gregory Peck in Designing Women, and with Tony Curtis and Henry Fonda in Sex and the Single Girl.

The list of iconic actors she worked with was long (Bogart, Peck, Charles BoyerRock Hudson and John Wayne, to name a few) and Bacall worked with an estimable list of directors, too: Hawks (To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep), John Huston (Key Largo), Douglas Sirk (Written on the Wind), William Wellman (Blood Alley), Vincente Minnelli (Designing Woman), Sidney Lumet (Murder on the Orient Express) and Rob Reiner (Misery).

She took her talents to Broadway, winning Tony Awards for Applause (based on the Bette Davis classic All About Eve) in 1970; and Woman of the Year (based on the Tracy-and-Hepburn film of the same name) in 1981.

It's hard to believe she never won an Oscar in competition, or wasn't even nominated (for Best Supporting Actress) until she played Barbra Streisand's still-gorgeous and gloriously vain mother in The Mirror Had Two Faces, for which she did win the Screen Actors Guild Award and the Golden Globe—four years after she got the Globes' Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement.

The Academy finally gave her her due as well in 2010 with an honorary Oscar. 

"Isn't it lovely? I'm here—such as I am," she cracked backstage at the Academy Awards that year, flipping her perfectly appointed silvery hair behind her ear. "You're never going to see these pictures, you know that," she teased the photographers. "I know you have bulbs in there but there's no film in there, that's the problem."

A newer generation may also have noted the familiar voice in a recent Family Guy episode, playing a woman in a retirement home who Peter Griffin becomes attached to after the death of his own mother.

Lauren Bacall, Family Guy


Famous also for turning down roles throughout her career, Bacall stayed pretty darn busy for 60 years, though she lamented in 1998 that she hadn't been offered a "decent" movie in ages.

"They are not writing wonderful parts for women," the Golden-age superstar told the Los Angeles Times. "That is the sad truth. They were certainly not breaking down the doors for me, anyway."

About television, she said, "some of it has become awfully arrogant. They don't offer you much, and there's no point in that kind of exposure unless, first of all, you're paid well, and, second of all, it's really good material. I mean good material comes before anything."

And there was still good material ahead.

In later years, she became a muse of sorts to controversial Danish director Lars Von Trier, appearing in both Manderlay and Dogville, and in addition to Family Guy her voice can memorably be heard in the acclaimed animated films Ernest & Celestine and Howl's Moving Castle.

Lauren Bacall

Jeff Vespa/Getty Images

But there was nothing like those early films of hers, and there never will be again.

After Bogart died of cancer in 1957, Bacall was briefly engaged to Frank Sinatra, who divorced second wife Ava Gardner that same year and would go on to marry two more times.

Bacall married Jason Robards in 1961 and they had a son, actor Sam Robards, together before divorcing in 1969.

She is survived by Sam and her two children with Bogart, documentary filmmaker son Stephen (who co-manages the family estate) and daughter Leslie, who was famously named after actor Leslie Howard after he helped Bogie secure his breakout role in The Petrified Forest.

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.