Thursday, August 14, 2014
As the world mourns at the news of Robin Williams' suicide, I learned yesterday of another loss. On August 12th, film legend Lauren Baccall died of a stroke at 89.
Hardly a tragedy, you might say, when she lived such a long and productive life. Indeed, her passing reminds me how much I loved her many movies. I read her biography By Myself a few years after it came out, and was captivated as much by her intelligence as by her unassuming nature.
Younger readers might not be aware that she met her future husband Humphrey Bogart on the set of her first film, "To Have and Have Not", at the tender age of nineteen. Bogart was forty four. Doesn't that sound like the premise for a romance novel? Gruff, world-weary actor falls for sharp-tongued but innocent ingenue... They went on to make some of the most romantic movies of all time. The sparks they struck on the screen obviously reflected their real-world passion.
Of course, in the real world, we only have happy endings for a while. Bogart died at age 57. A mere thirteen years together - but together they produced works of art to be treasured.
I want to watch some of them again: "To Have and Have Not", "The Big Sleep", "Key Largo" - to savor her razor-sharp wit and understated sultriness. Someone like Lauren Baccall appears only once in a very long while. She will be missed - and remembered.