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Lauren Bacall Wrote the Book

When Lauren Bacall left us, all I wanted was footage of her performing “I Wrote the Book” in Woman of the Year. And here it is! Never mind Wayne NEwton (I don’t know what that’s about), but here it is, delivered with peerless comedic timing.

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Just Like Lauren Bacall

There are a lot of songs titled “Lauren Bacall.” Here’s a good one that sounds as if it was written about me! “Blonde and tall / She had it all / With a voice like Lauren Bacall.”

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Lauren Bacall on Subway Creepers

normalI’m reading Lauren Bacall’s first memoir, By Myself, at the moment, so be prepared to receive tiny little gems for the next few days. Today’s gem comes courtesy of Betty recalling her New York City childhood, complete with subway pedophiles.

“As I always traveled to high school by bus and subway, I was subjected to the same experiences everyone is who travels that way–men exposing themselves behind newspapers, asking if you didn’t want an ice-cream cone. The usual.”

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Turns Out I’m Not Bacall’s Biggest FAN

Lauren Bacall The FanI realized, this very morning, that we have never spoken here of The Fan.

Do you know what that is? Do you? Do you? Because it’s an Important Film.

As it happens, it’s also basically Lauren Bacall’s farewell to stardom. Never again would she be the lead in a film—and certainly never again would she be the object of obsessive desire. (On film, at least.)

In it, she stars as a Broadway star about to make her debut in a musical comedy. And she’s terrified! Compounding her insecurities are her ex-husband, James Garner (he has one scene, but try to prove that to him), and the creepy letters she’s getting from an admirer (dare I say a fan?). And her assistant got slashed up in the subway! And oh my god, these dance routines!

Needless to say, Bacall’s fan is a homosexual. Shocking, I know. Even more shocking is that, in this 1981 motion picture, homosexuals were not portrayed as pleasant people! This one, for instance, kills a man in the YMCA pool, then kills another gay who looks like him, sets his body on fire, and leaves a suicide note. That’s all it takes for a jittery Bacall to say, “To hell with fear! My stalker is dead, on with the show!”

What follows is the climactic moment of the musical, the big production number “Hearts, Not Diamonds.” The metaphors are as labored as Bacall’s navigation of the notes (plural is a generous way of phrasing it), but by god, she sells it! Almost. Mostly. Who the hell cares, it’s Lauren Bacall croaking a tune in black sequins, carried around stage by chorus boys, while her fan watches from the audience.

Later that night, after all the guests have left and the star of this apparently hit Broadway musical is alone in the theater, that fan will go backstage and… but why ruin it for you?

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The Wisdom of Bacall: On Sinatra

Lauren Bacall Frank SinatraA gem about her aborted engagement to Frank Sinatra from Lauren Bacall’s memoir By Myself:

“Actually, Frank did me a great favor–he saved me from the disaster our marriage would have been. The truth is he was probably smarter than I: he knew it couldn’t work. But the truth also is that he behaved like a complete shit.”

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Wisdom by Bacall

lauren9Today’s nugget of wisdom from Lauren Bacall’s memoir By Myself:

“It was a lot for twenty years old to handle. I don’t know how I did, except that when you’re twenty, it never occurs to you that you can’t.”

And in case that’s too universal, try:

“That was the year I learned everything at once: how to be a wife, run a house, sail a boat, cook, and not trust Jack Warner.”

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