Lauren Bacall with her husband, Humphrey Bogart (Pto by Victor Drees/Evening Standard/Getty Images)
Lauren Bacall: I knew her appealing well, a brace of ways. One way was obvious: I’m an ball reporter. The added way was added important: aback she was built-in Betty Jean Perske in 1924, my grandmother generally baby-sat the approaching brilliant of date and screen. How this came about was a little bit of fable in our family. Two years afore she met my grandfathering in 1926, the afresh Marion Zimmerman had anachronous Betty’s uncle Charlie Weinstein. This was in the Bronx, about the time my grandmother formed in accessible relations and advertising. Grandma Mimi was about 20, 21.
The chance was that Betty’s ancestor had larboard his wife and babyish babe anon afterwards the birth. He didn’t apperceive afresh that Betty Jean would, in 17 years, become an brief awareness accepted as Lauren Bacall. The grandmother (that is, Charlie’s mother) admonished him about alike cerebration of accepting married. He and my grandmother were too young. He had to alum law academy and booty affliction of his family. That put the anathema on the romance. Still, they were generally alleged aloft to sit with babyish Betty. It would be years afore Charles Weinstein would marry, as Betty wrote in her memoir. He never had children.
More than a decade later, my grandparents (my grandmother had affiliated a bigger Charlie, a absolute adulation match) ran into Charlie Weinstein on Riverside Drive. He was with the baby, now about ten or eleven years old “She said capital to be an actress,Grandma recalled. It seemed like a aqueduct dream. She never saw them again. A few years later, my grandmother was abashed aback the babyish w batty that adolescent accord became a cine brilliant and affiliated Humphrey Bogart.
Lauren Bacall initially did not ane abundant of this story. The aboriginal time I explained it to her, she looked at me in rror—a attending I was to see abounding times over the aing few years. You see, I acutely knew her age if the chance were true. This was not a acceptable thing. But I do ane she secretly enjoyed this odd connection. And so it congenital a aberrant foundation for closing affairs in accessible at orted events. Her loyal and abiding administrator Johnnie Planco would say, “You bethink Roger.” And Miss Bacall would say to me “Don’t acquaint that chance again.” Actual firmly. And afresh we’d account about anybody abroad in the room.
Grandma did not ane abundant of it as the years went along. But against the end of her activity she asked me to attending in Lauren Bacall’s memoir, By Myself, to see what had happened to Charles Weinstein. I got the al and addled through. It seems Betty’s Uncle Charles died of a affection attack. He was in bed with his wife, Rosalie. Three months later, Rosalie died in a even crash. Fate is cruel. But I’m actual advantageous Betty’s mother didn’t let her son ally my grandmother.
Over time, in the ‘90s and 2000s, absolutely until a year ago, Bacall was a approved at New York events. I saw her absolutely generally and it was consistently an adventure. At one banquet in 2003, she gave Cate Blanchett admonition on w to comedy her acquaintance Katherine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator.” I wrote about their meeting:
“She wore her beard up,” Bacall said, “and she was actual athletic. She had alone a trace of a Hartford accent, so don’t anguish about that,” she told Ms. Blanchett, and ashamed off several added adventures to the addled Australian actress.
“You’re fabulous,” Bacall told Ms. Blanchett, responding to her achievement as murdered announcer Guerin.
“You’re the ogue of fabulous,” Ms. Blanchett attempt back, adhering the Hollywood icon.
Director Roger Corman, Extra Lauren Bacall and cinematographer Gordon Willis (Pto by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
The allocution angry to the red carpeting at the Oscars, which Ms. Blanchett aboriginal abashed at aback in 1999, but eventually came around.
“I was nominated for one Oscar and I absent it,” the august Bacall said of her 1997 accident to Juliette Binoche. “But I got added publicity for accident it than for acceptable it.”
In June 2013, she came to a cafeteria befuddled by Peggy Siegal at Michael’s restaurant on West 55th St. for Vanessa Redgrave. The two woman had affirmed through Ms. Redgrave’s backward daughter, Natasha Richardson. Bacall asked for me to sit on one ancillary of her, Ms. Redgrave on the other. She was in a angry mood, actual haughty. Let’s face it, she could be mean. All through cafeteria orted people, actors, swbiz types, approved to appear say o. She wasn’t giving audiences. Aback the man built-in to my larboard stood up, he said, “Miss Bacall, it was such an account to sit at your table.” She replied: “I’ll bet it was.”
At that lunch, Ms. Redgrave asked w we knew anniversary other. Bacall formed her eyes and said, “Oh it’s absolutely a story.” I told the abbreviate version. My grandmother died in 1997 at age 93. As her accompany and ancestors from her bearing vanished, it was consistently nice to accept this one aftermost affiliation to aback she was young. Now the affiliation is gone.
Bacall’s afterlife fabricated me ane of the Broadway aperture in December 2009 of a awakening of “A Little Night Music.” It was one of the aftermost at Tavern on the Green, on a backing Sunday night. Bacall had appear with her pal, Alexandra Schlesinger, but she’d let her car go, not aen that it ability rain. I offered to drive them me. “You accept an automobile?” she asked me. We took her acquaintance me to the East Side, afresh alternate to the Dakota, area she’d abundantly lived for so long. “Did you anytime think, 85 years later, that your babysitter’s grandson would be seeing you me?” I asked. She got a bang out of that. “That’s life,” she said, and she was so right.
Roger Friedman has covered the ball industry for over 25 years and is the architect of Swbiz411.com.
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