Lauren Bacall

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Lauren Bacall with Humphrey Bogart being interviewed for AFRS during World War II.

Lauren Bacall (born 16 September 1924) Jewish American film and stage actress; wife of Humphrey Bogart, born Betty Joan Perske


  • Imagination is the highest kite that one can fly.
    • Lauren Bacall By Myself (1978)
  • How many women do we know who were continually kissed by Clark Gable, William Powell, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy and Fredric March? Only one: Myrna Loy... And to meet whom did Franklin D Roosevelt find himself tempted to call off the Yalta Conference? Myrna Loy. And to see what lady in what picture did John Dillinger risk coming out of hiding to meet his bullet-ridden death in an alley in Chicago? Myrna Loy, in Manhattan Melodrama.
    • Hosting a Carnegie Hall tribute to Myrna Loy, as quoted in The New York Times (16 January 1985)
  • I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.
    • As quoted in The Daily Telegraph (2 March 1988)
  • Looking at yourself in a mirror isn’t exactly a study of life.
    • As quoted in The Daily Mail (1 November 1990)
  • She's not a legend. She's a beginner. What is this 'legend'? She can't be a legend at whatever age she is. She can't be a legend, you have to be older.
    • As quoted in numerous reports of a response she made to a question by Jenni Falconer during joint interview sessions with Nicole Kidman at the Venice Film Festival (8 September 2004) She, Kidman and others have indicated that the remarks were inaccurately quoted and taken out of context. (see also the Larry King interview)
  • Nicole and I worked together on Dogville and we were friends when we started this. That laid the groundwork for our fabulous relationship on screen and off.
    • Interview at Venice Film Festival (8 September 2004)
  • When you talk about a great actor, you're not talking about Tom Cruise. His whole behavior is so shocking. It's inappropriate and vulgar and absolutely unacceptable to use your private life to sell anything commercially, but I think it's kind of a sickness.

Larry King interview (2005)

Interview with Larry King on CNN (6 May 2005)

  • The people I've known I must say are extraordinary. When I think about some of them, I can't believe that I knew them all. And I think the reason I knew most of them at the beginning was because they were of Bogie's generation, 25 years my senior, not mine. But they were the most talented people of all.
  • I was Betty Bacall always. And Lauren was Howard Hawks... he felt that Lauren Bacall was better sounding than Betty Bacall. He had a vision of his own. He was a Svengali. He wanted to mold me. He wanted to control me. And he did until Mr. Bogart got involved.
  • BACALL: "I'm a total Democrat. I'm anti-Republican. And it's only fair that you know it. Even though..."
KING: "Wait a minute. Are you a liberal?"
BACALL: "I'm a liberal. The "L" word!"
KING: "Egads!"
... I love it. Being a liberal is the best thing on earth you can be. You are welcoming to everyone when you're a liberal. You do not have a small mind... I'm total, total, total liberal and proud of it. And I think it's outrageous to say "The L word". I mean, excuse me. They should be damn lucky that they were liberals here. Liberals gave more to the population of the United States than any other group.
  • Losing Bogey was horrible, obviously. Because he was young. And because he gave me my life. I wouldn't have had a — I don't know what would have happened to me if I hadn't met him — I would have had a completely different kind of life. He changed me, he gave me everything. And he was an extraordinary man.
  • Well, his attention span was not long, shall we say.
    • She said of Sinatra
  • I love Nicole. Nicole and I happen to be very great friends. Besides that, the press never get it straight. They do not print what you say... We were in Venice for Birth at the Venice Film Festival. And you know when you have a day when you go from one room to another with the roundtables with about five journalists sitting around at each table throwing questions at you all the time. So in one of these rooms, I'm sitting there. And one of the journalists said, you're an icon and Nicole Kidman's an icon and what do you think about that? And I said, why do you have to burden her with the category? She's a young woman. She's got her whole career ahead of her. Why does she have to be pegged as an icon or as anything? Let her enjoy her time. Don't, you know, suddenly put her in a slot. And that was all I said. The word "legend" never came up. It was "icon."
    • On being quoted in 2004 as saying about Nicole Kidman: "She's not a legend. She's a beginner..."
"She's not a legend," Bacall said. "She can't be a legend at whatever age she is. ... You have to be older."

Private Screenings interview (2005)

An interview for Private Screenings on TCM with Robert Osborne (August 2005)

  • A planned life is a dead life.
  • I went to a sneak preview... I was sort of stunned by it, because you don't realize what you've done. I never knew what was going to happen, but they knew. Warners knew, and Howard knew.
    • On her role in To Have and Have Not (1944)
  • ...badly, playing the Missouri Waltz, or something.
    • On Harry S. Truman's piano playing
  • That's absolutely one of my most favorite movies, for so many reasons. I fought for that part; I wanted it badly. I took a lower salary, I did everything. Grace Kelly said, 'I'll never forgive you for playing that part. It was written for me. She [Kelly] got the prince [Rainier], I got the part.'
    • On her role in Designing Women (1957)
  • He was...(pause) a womanizer, he wanted to be in the sack with everybody.

Characters in movies

  • You know you don't have to act with me, Steve. You don't have to say anything and you don't have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.
  • You know Steve, you’re not very hard to figure. Only at times. Sometimes I know exactly what you’re going to say. Most of the time. And the other times, the other times, you’re just a stinker.
    • As "Marie Browning" (aka Slim) to "Harry Morgan" (aka Steve) in To Have and Have Not (1944)
  • I'm hard to get, Steve. All you have to do is ask me.
    • As "Marie Browning" (aka Slim) to "Harry Morgan" (aka Steve) in To Have and Have Not (1944)
  • Speaking of horses, I like to play them myself. I like to see them work out a little first. See if they’re front runners or come from behind.
    • As "Vivian Sternwood Rutledge" in The Big Sleep (1946)
  • A lot depends on who's in the saddle.
    • As "Vivian Sternwood Rutledge" in The Big Sleep (1946)


  • A man's illness is his private territory and, no matter how much he loves you and how close you are, you stay an outsider. You are healthy.
  • A woman isn't complete without a man. But where do you find a man — a real man — these days? ... Find me a man who's interesting enough to have dinner with and I'll be happy.
  • Generally women are better than men — they have more character. I prefer men for some things, obviously, but women have a greater sense of honor and are more willing to take a chance with their lives.
  • I am essentially a loner.
  • I am not a has-been. I am a will be.
    • Variant: I'm not a has-been. I'm a will-be.
  • I don't sit around thinking that I'd like to have another husband; only another man would make me think that way.
  • I figure if I have my health, can pay the rent and I have my friends, I call it 'content.'
  • I loved to dream about other worlds and other lives.
    • On childhood dreams of becoming an actress
  • I used to tremble from nerves so badly that the only way I could hold my head steady was to lower my chin practically to my chest and look up at Bogie. That was the beginning of "The Look".
  • I wish Frank Sinatra would just shut up and sing.
  • I'm not a sedentary person. I've always been active.
  • I'm not the public.
    • After being told that a store was not open to the public
  • In Hollywood, an equitable divorce settlement means each party getting fifty percent of publicity.
  • It was 1944. I was 19, brand new in Hollywood and under personal contract to director Howard Hawks. Now, Howard had told me he wanted me to be in a movie with either Cary Grant or Humphrey Bogart. I thought, "Wow, Cary Grant!" I'd already tested for To Have And Have Not and was going to be in it with, of course, Bogey's approval. One day, I was going into Hawks' office and Bogey was on his way out. As he passed he said, "By the way, I saw your test, we will have a lot of fun together." Well, he was right about that!
  • Let people push you around, and you deserve whatever bad things happen after that.
  • Looking at yourself in a mirror isn't exactly a study of life.
  • Stardom isn't a profession; it's an accident.
  • The purity of Jewish upbringing is the restrictions that one carries through life being a "nice Jewish girl" — what a burden!
  • They're guys who want to screw around all the time, which interests me not at all. God knows we've done that, been there, and we don't want to do that any more.
  • When a woman reaches twenty-six in America, she's on the slide. It's downhill all the way from then on. It doesn't give you a tremendous feeling of confidence and well-being.
  • You can't start worrying about what's going to happen. You get spastic enough worrying about what's happening now.

Quotes of others about Bacall

  • Lauren Bacall has cinema personality to burn. She has a javelin-like vitality, a born dancer’s eloquence of movement, a fierce female shrewdness, and a special sweet-sourness. With these faculties, plus a stone-crushing self-confidence and a trombone voice, she manages to get across the toughest girl Hollywood has dreamed of in a long, long while. ~ James Agee
  • Slinky as a lynx, hot as pepper, cool as rain, dry as smoke. There’s considerably more to her than staying sexy at 60. ~ Ros Asquith in The London Observer on Bacall’s performance in Sweet Bird of Youth
  • Even today, seeing her from a distance on a city street, striding easily with head thrown back, you would know why she interested Bogart from the day they met. She was no ordinary girl then, just as today she is no ordinary woman. In fact, she is an extraordinary one. ~ Joe Hyams

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