Lauren Bacall, a film legend best known for her sultry on-screen presence and her romance with actor Humphrey Bogart, died Aug. 12 in New York. She was 89.
Bacall, the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Poland and Romania, reportedly suffered a stroke in her Manhattan apartment.
Born Betty Joan Perske in Brooklyn, Bacall was a first cousin of former Israeli President Shimon Peres (nee Szymon Perski), although they did not meet until they were both famous adults, according to the L.A. Jewish Journal.
After her parents’ divorce, when she was 6, she took part of her mother’s maiden name, Bacal, later adding an “l.” Her big break was a film role at age 19 in “To Have and Have Not,” where she played opposite Bogart. The two married in 1945 when she was 20 and he was 45. Bacall went on to perform in more than 40 films, and won awards on Broadway.
According to her New York Times obituary, Bacall wrote that she felt “totally Jewish and always would.” However, she wrote that she and Bogart, an Episcopalian, had their two children christened in an Episcopal church.
The Times reported that Bacall once asked Bogart if it mattered to him that she was Jewish. His answer, she wrote, was “Hell, no — what mattered to him was me, how I thought, how I felt, what kind of person I was, not my religion, he couldn’t care less. ”
Bogart died in 1957. Bacall later married actor Jason Robards, with whom she had a son. — jta