Actress Lauren Bacall, the husky-voiced, wavy-haired beauty known for such films as How to Marry a Millionaire and The Big Sleep passed away in New York yesterday. She was 89.
Bacall, who met her first husband and frequent co-star Humphrey Bogart on the set of To Have and Have Not, was not only a star on the silver screen, but in the style sector, too. In fact, Diana Vreeland is credited with discovering the actress during her tenure at Harper’s Bazaar. Bacall, or Betty, as she was called at the time, was introduced to Vreeland at the age of sixteen, and the editor instantly tapped her for a sitting with photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe. “I don’t want to change your look,” Vreeland told Bacall according to Amanda Mackenzie Stuart’s book The Empress of Fashion. The actress first appeared in Harper’s in January of 1943, and Vreeland put her on the cover in March of that year (below). Hollywood—or more specifically, To Have and Have Not director Howard Hawks—came knocking. And the rest is history.
“Betty’s always been what used to be called a ‘good kid,’” Vreeland once said. “It’s rather a period phrase, but it’s the way I always think of her. I didn’t think about her—I loved her. She was my special friend. She’s always kept her own thoughts and her own dreams…she literally had nothing to offer but her existence.” In addition to her sultry presence, full red lips, and flawless figure, it is that genuine, true-to-herself attitude that makes Bacall an enduring icon.