In 1944, a starry-eyed ingénue headed to Hollywood in search of fame and fortune. There, she became a near overnight success with what came to be viewed as a legendary performance in the film, "To Have and Have Not."
Some 60 years later, the woman now known as Lauren Bacall is sharing her stories of success, love, loss -- and name changes, in her new book, "By Myself and Then Some."
No one in her family had been interested in the performing arts, but Bacall tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith, it was part of her dream and her family supported her all the way. She writes about her career and love life in her updated memoir.to read an excerpt.
She says, "Bette Davis was my heroine and I always wanted to be like her. But I never wanted to be in the movies. I only wanted to be on the stage. And I took a lot of years before that dream was to be realized."
At 19, she got a screen test for the film "To Have and Have Not," that ended up making her an overnight success. Before long, her romance with co-star Humphrey Bogart begins.
"I never was his greatest fan," Bacall says. "I thought he was a good actor, but I never lost my breath looking at him, which I did when I looked at Leslie Howard. But the fact is that it just happened. He actually initiated the changing of the relationship. And he was not a man who made passes at women. He was totally loyal to whoever he was married to, and it just happened, and it just grew and there was no stopping us."
Once the film was over, they both went their separate ways. Bogart, back then was in an unhappy marriage. And he writes to Bacall: "I wish with all my heart things were different. Some day soon they will be. And now I'm sure it was made to be. To say good-bye is to die a little because when I walked away from you the last time, and saw you standing there so darling, I did die a little in my heart."
Bacall, who includes that note in her book, notes that was from a Cole Porter song, "He was very romantic. He was very sentimental, and he was just the prince on the white horse. What can I tell you?"
But the relationship ends when Bogart dies from throat cancer. And the next man in her life ends up being Frank Sinatra, who was a friend of the family.
"That was a total disaster," Bacall says.
A relationship with Jason Robards later developed. Bacall says, "Jason and I were really crazy about one another, and we had a lot in common, and of course, he was a really great, great actor and a wonderful man. But he had a problem then and we tried to rise above it many times, and he tried. And he just didn't succeed. We had this great son and we had a lot of good times together."
The book was originally released 25 years ago and now has new material and recollections in it.
Bacall says, "The point of this reissuing, 'By Myself,' was to give new generations the opportunity to read it."
Though at the beginning, Bacall says she thought writing an updated version of her memoir was not a good idea, she ended up doing it after getting a lot of mail from young people asking her to do write some more.
"I'm glad I have added to it," Bacall says. "Because it does give me a sense of having had some kind of life of my own. You know, it's like with Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe and with me and Bogart. That's it?"
That is not it. Bacall has a phenomenal body of work including an Academy Award nomination and she says, "Not to mention two Tonys. My theater work was the most gratifying. That was fantastic."
Some Lauren Bacall Fun Facts:
- As a child, Bacall planned to become a dancer, and as a teen she took journalism classes, intending to become a reporter. However, after meeting actress Bette Davis, Bacall switched her goal to acting.
- Bacall and Shimon Peres, former Israeli Prime Minister, are cousins. They share the same original last name: Perske.
- Still undiscovered, Bacall volunteered as a hostess at the New York chapter of the Stage Door Canteen, working Monday nights when theaters were closed.
- Having lost her job as a showroom model and having quit acting school due to a lack of funds, the teenage Bacall found work as a Broadway theater usher. George Jean Nathan voted her the prettiest usher of the 1942 season in the pages of Esquire magazine.
- In 1942, she was crowned "Miss Greenwich Village"
- The name and persona of Bacall's character in "To Have and Have Not" (1944) is based on Slim Hawks, wife of famed director Howard Hawks. It was Slim who persuaded Howard to give Bacall a screen test for the movie, which launched the actress' career.
- In 1997, she was chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World.
- Her hobby is collecting beer mugs.