Lauren Bacall was born on September 16th, 1924 in The Bronx, New York. Bacall ‘s mother worked as a secretary and her father worked as a salesman; Bacall’s mother was from Romania while her father was the son of Polish immigrants.
After graduating high school, Bacall began to take classes at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She was semi-active in theater and had a Broadway debut at the age of 17 in a walk-on role in a play called Johnny 2 x 4.
When she was only 18 years old, she was discovered by Nicolas de Gunzburg at a club. Gunzburg told Bacall to come to the office for Harper’s Bazaar magazine the next day, and she was ultimately chosen to appear on the cover of the March 1943 issue.
After the March 1943 issue of Harper’s Bazaar was released, the wife of film director Howard Hawks’ urged her husband to have Bacall do a screen test for his upcoming film, To Have and Have Not. Howard Hawks asked his secretary to find out more about Bacall’s experience, however due to a miscommunication, she actually sent Bacall a ticket to come to Hollywood and audition. Bacall’s audition was a great success and Hawks signed Bacall into a 7-year contract.
Bacall’s performance in to Have and have Not immediately made her famous. Bacall soon appeared in several films, including the hit film The Big Sleep, which earned her much critical place. After her role in The Big Sleep, Bacall became associated with the film noir genre, and was often cast in roles where she played intelligent, mysterious ‘femme fatale’ type characters.
Bacall took on many roles in the 1950s, although by this time she had become choosier about what scripts she decided to take on. While this earned her a reputation for being ‘difficult,’ almost all of the roles she choose ended up being successful for her. Her roles in the 1950s included Young Man with a Horn, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Cobweb, Written on the Wind, Designing Women and North West Frontier.
Her career began to slow down in the 1960s, and she took on only a handful of film roles over the next few decades. She appeared more often in theater, and won Tony Awards for her performances in Woman of the Year (1981) and Applause (1970). Her film roles during this time include roles in Sex and the Single Girl, Murder on the Orient Express, and Misery. It was not until 1996 that Bacall earned her first Academy Award nomination, for her role in The Mirror Has Two Faces.
Bacall was active in film and television until her death. Her last roles included voice over roles in Scooby Doo, Ernest and Celestine, and Family Guy.
Bacall’s personal life was often the subject of public scrutiny. In 1945, she married Humphrey Bogart; the couple was married until Bogart died in 1957. The couple had two children. In 1961, she married actor Jason Robards, but the couple divorced in 1969. Bacall had a son with Robards.