I didn't remember until I started writing this essay that the first time I became aware of Lauren Bacall was when I was very young and I was looking through a book my father had about US presidential elections. The book was published around 1950, and there was a full page photo of Lauren Bacall draped on a piano played by Harry Truman, who was then Vice President. I have always liked that photo. I later learned that Lauren Bacall was actively involved in politics for most of her life.
In an 06-May-2005 interview with Larry King, Lauren Bacall said "I'm a total Democrat. I'm anti-Republican. And it's only fair that you know it . . . I'm liberal. The L word!" She continued, saying "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 ... You want to welcome everyone." (Larry King Live, 06-May-2005 transcript, cnn.com)
Betty worked as an usherette at the Saint James Theatre on Broadway in 1941. Among the productions the theater hosted that year was Pal Joey with Gene Kelly and Vivienne Segal. The theater is still active and was used as the location for the movie Birdman.
"'George Jean Nathan wrote in Esquire that I was the most attractive usherette,' she said, 'only he didn't mention my name.' "How'd you know he meant you?' I surely had her there. 'He told me later when he saw me.' 'Oh.'" ("Lauren Bacall Was Theater Usherette", Earl Wilson, Miami Daily News, 11-November-1945, page 12).
|New York Tribune, 31-March-1889.|
Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall model clothes in How to Marry a Millionaire.
In 1942, Betty made her Broadway debut as a member of the ensemble in Johnny 2x4 by Rowland Brown.
|Harper's Bazaar, March, 1943.|
In 1948, Lauren Bacall was old enough to vote for president. She campaigned for Harry Truman, who won despite this famous headline in the Chicago Daily Tribune.
Ten people (Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner Jr., John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott, and Dalton Trumbo) refused to state whether they had ever been members of the Communist party and were held in contempt of Congress. The Committee for the First Amendment travelled to Washington DC in an attempt to support the Hollywood Ten, but came under great pressure from the studios. Warner Brothers forced Humphrey Bogart to write an article saying that he was not a Communist. Jack Warner, head of the studio, was nervous about some progressive films that he had made in the 1930s, and so he came down hard on anyone who was mentioned in the same breath as Communism.
Many people in the United States joined the Communist party before World War II because it was the only party fighting against fascism. In the United States, it was only predominantly white organization that opposed lynching and favored racial integration. Many people left the party in 1939, unable to stomach the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Others left in the 1950s when Nikita Khrushchev denounced Joseph Stalin's many crimes against humanity. Still others left after the Soviets crushed the Hungarian Uprising in 1956 or the Prague Spring in 1968. Others just grew up and moved on to other things.
“I was as selfish as many others in that I didn’t want him. I wanted — for my own sake — to have my hero governing this country. He was my first emotional hero since Roosevelt, but Adlai wasn’t a father figure as Roosevelt had been for me. He was someone I could look up to — his mind excited me — and his flirtation encouraged me. And some of his friends encouraged me — they said it was good for him to have me around, he enjoyed my company, felt easy and relaxed with me, I took his mind off his heavy responsibilities. Almost anything that good for Stevenson I was all for. So short of leaving husband and home — which I had no desire and intention of doing — I would see him when I could and keep the thread of my presence alive in his consciousness.”
After Humphrey Bogart died in 1957, Lauren Bacall was left with two small children to support. She continued to work in movies and on television. Later she returned to the stage.
This post is part of the Lauren Bacall Blogathon hosted by Crystal at In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. Thank you to Crystal for all the hard work. Thank you to everyone who visited and I encourage you to read and comment on as many posts as you can. Bloggers love comments.
This post is my seventh blogathon post of 2015 and my 38th since 2007. This is my 20th blogathon. This page has a list of all my blogathon posts.