Women in History: Lauren Bacall…She Dared!

The Celebrating Women Series for 2017 continues with article #3 today. March is Women in History month and so I’m featuring writers and authors who sent in guest articles surrouding women and topics about women.  In fact, it will extend way past March. You can find a main page for this with explanation and link to all articles here. I’ll add the article as I schedule or post them.

Today, we have a post by a young women named Somer Canon, who’s published so far as a horror author, but has plans to spread out into various other genres. She’s got a great sense of humor and an obsession with old Hollywood and biographies! Without further ado, she gives us a wonderful look at the fiesty spirit of actress Lauren Bacall.

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A Youthful Lauren Bacall – Photo from NYTimes

Lauren Bacall: A Woman Who Dared

By Somer Canon, author of Vicki Beautiful

“I wanted it all— all the time.”

Lauren Bacall was a woman who dared. She dared to be a wife and mother and she dared to have a career.  As the quote above states, she wanted it all.  While that concept is not so alien to us all now, in the 1940s and 1950s, that was a hell of a tall order for a woman to dare to fill.

Born Betty Perske in 1924 in the Bronx, New York, the future Lauren Bacall attended private schools paid for by wealthy relatives.  In her late teens, she began modeling and one of her cover pictures for Harper’s Bazaar was spotted by Nancy “Slim” Hawks, wife of famed director Howard Hawks.  At his wife’s urging, Hawks arranged for a screen test and the striking 5’8” beauty inspired Hawks to hire young Betty upon meeting her.  The movie she was testing for was “To Have and Have Not,” the very film where she met Humphrey Bogart.

I’d like to gloss over the love life of Lauren Bacall.  Many works have been written about Bogie and Bacall, even the song Key Largo by Bertie Higgins makes mention of their famous love.  I’d like to also gloss over the relationship with Frank Sinatra, the unfortunate second marriage to Jason Robards, and the short lived relationships after.  Lauren Bacall, as a woman and career driven individual, deserves more from me than the constant goo-goo type of attention paid to her marriage to Bogart.  “Having it all” meant that there was more than just the woman who avoided working on movies that shot on location because Bogart didn’t want her working away from him.  It meant more than the woman who threw fabulous parties and always looked resplendent when on her man’s arm.  Even by Hollywood standards, she was more than a party decoration.

Jack Warner used the word “insolent” to describe Lauren Bacall.  When Hollywood was still operating under the studio system (actors were hired by studios and received weekly salaries for working, working on several movies a year), Bacall was a Warner Bros. actress, but she was frequently suspended from the studio for refusing the accept parts that she considered mediocre.  Her first role in the Hawks film had catapulted her to instant stardom, and she knew her worth.  Insolent was the word used, but what she was really doing was looking out for her career.

Lauren enjoyed varying degrees of success with a movie career during the 1940s and 1950s.  There was a period of waning in the 1960s, her personal life taking a nosedive with the death of Bogart.  At the urging of her mentor and Hollywood maker, Slim Hawks (now Hayward thanks to marriage to Leland Hayward), Lauren took a part in the Broadway play “Goodbye Charlie.”  Although it wasn’t a hit, Lauren relocated herself and her children to a large apartment at the famed Dakota in Manhattan.  Eventually, a role of a lifetime landed at her feet.  A play based on the Bette Davis movie, “All About Eve” came along.  It was called Applause.  At age 45, Bacall got to showcase what happened to aging actresses.  It was a big deal for Bacall to be playing Davis’ part on stage as Bette was Bacall’s idol.

The play was a huge triumph and Bacall not only won a Tony in 1970 for her part, but Bette Davis also once visited her backstage after one of the performances and told her, “You’re the only one who could have played the part.”  I’m just guessing, but I bet that felt amazing to hear from her idol.

Bacall won another Tony in 1981 for her role in Woman of the Year.  She enjoyed a great amount of success on Broadway before Hollywood remembered her and she experienced a resurgence of movie interest.  She got an Oscar nomination for her part in the Barbra Streisand movie “The Mirror Has Two Faces” and she eventually won an honorary Academy Award in 2009.

In a business where aging diamonds of the silver screen struggle to find a place for themselves when ageism was and still is a huge obstacle for actresses, Lauren Bacall found her niche and it fit her perfectly.  She didn’t suffer last days of isolation and poverty like so many who went before her.

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Lauren Bacall, Later Years – Photo from CNN

In one of her memoirs, she noted that she had been alone for decades and that it suited her.  Perhaps it was for the best.  When Lauren came to Hollywood, she was 19 years-old.  She lived to see all of the people who were there to give her guidance and advice die, the biggest names of Hollywood become specters on celluloid in place of warm, living people.  That she could live a life alone “imaginatively” as she put it, makes her all the more interesting.

She did the wife thing, the motherhood thing, and the career thing, sometimes all at once and she remained an outspoken, brassy heroine.  A wealth of life experience made her the woman that she was. It made her the tower of personality who the world lost in 2014, and although she will be missed, her mark is deep and brightly colored.  That deep voice and carelessly elegant hair will always be part of a picture of a woman who dared to have it all, went for it, and got it.  Well done, Lauren.  Well done.

Somer Canon, Biography

Somer CanonSomer Canon is a minivan revving suburban mother who avoids her neighbors for fear of
being found out as a weirdo.  When she’s not peering out of her windows, she’s consuming books, movies, and video games that sate her need for blood, gore, and things that disturb her mother.

Her debut novella was Vicki Beautiful, published by Samhain in 2016. n October of 2016, she published a Halloween short story, Mischief, and she currently has other works in the submission process. As well, she continues to use her imagination and has several exciting stories she’s actively working on.

Find out more about Somer and her upcoming works at her website http://www.somercanon.com. You can also connect with Somer on Twitter.

Praise for Vicki Beautiful

“ I read this at one gripping session and I shall read more by this author. Excellent, original and worth every one of my five stars.” –Catherine Cavendish, Author of The Devil’s Serenade

“At times it reminded me of the cult classic “Eating Raoul” and others “The Big Chill”. Suffice to say, Canon has created an intriguing tale that will not only have you caring about characters put into an awkward, unsettling situation but also wondering how they’ll react to it every step of the way. I highly recommend this unique and entertaining story.”
–Matthew Franks, Author The Monster Underneath

“This is not the normal type of book that I would read, but the cover sold it to me, and I like reading new authors and genres. This book is beautifully written, the writing flows and you feel you really understand what the character’s are feeling…” Rebecca, GoodReads Reviewer

“A simple story, but all the more powerful for its simplicity. Four stars. The author has guts and skill.” –Outlaw Poet

VBVicki Beautiful, Synopsis

One last taste of perfection…

Sasha and Brynn descend upon the showplace home of their girlhood friend, Vicki, planning to celebrate her surviving cancer to reach her fortieth birthday. As they gather around Vicki’s perfectly set dinner table, though, her husband shares devastating news. The cancer is back, and she doesn’t have long to live.

Her life is cut even shorter than Sasha and Brynn expect—the next morning, their friend is found dead, her flawless skin slit at the wrists. But a tub full of blood is only the beginning. Before the weekend is through, they are forced to question how far they’re willing to go to fulfill Vicki’s last wish.

A very specific, very detailed recipe that only the truest of friends could stomach…

Thanks for following along this series with us!

Women in History

 

 

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5 Comments

Filed under Guest Posts, women in history

5 responses to “Women in History: Lauren Bacall…She Dared!

  1. Somer, this is an exciting read about a truly thrilling woman. Bacall dared to follow her own path in a time where overt sexism was the norm. Oh, sexism is still around, we know, but in Bacall’s day it was not so under the table. I liked that you focused on what Bacall did herself. Women are so often defined by their relationships, aren’t they? Very interesting article! Makes me think of sending Erin an article on one of my historical heroines!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jmh

    I truthfully didn’t know much about Bacall, but it sounds like she was amazing in so many ways. Reminds me a little of Meryl Streep when it comes to longevity.

    Thanks for sharing this awesome post. And Vicki Beautiful is a fantastic book, btw…very disturbing. I recommend it, if any of your readers hasn’t read it yet!

    Liked by 1 person

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