Happy 92nd Birthday, Lauren Bacall!

Our former neighbor Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske 92 years ago today in the Bronx, New York. Here are 10 LB Did-You-Knows:

Bacall’s mother emigrated from Romania as a child; her father, whose forebears came from Poland, was born in New Jersey.

Bacall was born in the Bronx, but grew up in Brooklyn after family moved to a residence on that borough’s Ocean Parkway. Her parents were divorced when she was five, and her father disappeared from her life. She would later take her mother’s maiden name

A wealthy uncle paid for Bacall’s schooling at the Highland Manor Boarding School for Girls in Tarrytown, New York, and at Julia Richman High School in Manhattan. In 1941, Bacall studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (Kirk Douglas was a classmate), working as a fashion model and ushering at the St. James Theatre to pay for her studies.

In 1942, Bacall made her Broadway debut in a small part in a play called Johnny 2 X 4. She was just 17 years old. That same year, she was crowned Miss Greenwich Village, which is where she was living with her mother at that time.

During this time, Bacall volunteered as a hostess at NYC’s Stage Door Canteen on Monday nights, when the theatres were dark.

In 1943, Bacall appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. Director Howard Hawks‘ wife, Slim, spotted Bacall on the cover and convinced her husband to test the young model for his upcoming film, To Have and Have Not. Hawks asked his secretary to find out more about Bacall, but the secretary misunderstood and instead sent Bacall a ticket to Hollywood. Upon meeting Bacall, Hawks signed her to a seven-year contract.

Lauren Bacall lived in the Dakota at 72nd and Central Park West, the same building where John Lennon resided with spouse Yoko Ono (who still lives there). Bacall once told an interviewer that she heard the shot that killed the former Beatle near the building’s entrance, but thought it was a vehicle backfiring.

Bacall was a two-time Tony award winner, in the category of Best Actress (Musical), in 1970 for her role as Margo Channing in Applause! and in 1981 for Woman of the Year.

Bacall was nominated for one Oscar, in the Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) and she was awarded a honorary Oscar in 2010 in recognition of her place in the Golden Age of motion pictures. Bacall was the only Oscar winner to have been married to two other Oscar winners (Humphrey Bogart and Jason Robards).

Her autobiography, By Myself, was a 1980 National Book Award winner.

Happy birthday, Lauren Bacall, wherever you may be!

Lauren Bacall

Happy 109th Birthday, Katharine Hepburn!

Katharine Hepburn was born, well, Katharine Houghton Hepburn (what, you expected her to resort to the artifice of a screen name?) 109 years ago today in Hartford, Connecticut. It’s almost startling to be reminded on such occasions that Ms. Hepburn passed on in 2003, as it’s difficult to imagine any malady or even the passing of time itself prevailing over her strong will. We’re fully prepared to believe that she left us then, at age 96, only because she was ready to go and gave the okay.

We recommend that you pay Ms. Hepburn the honor of watching at least one of her movies today. TCM‘s airing a good number of her best from 6 a.m. till 8 p.m. ET. The Philadelphia Story, airing at noon, is our favorite, but you can hardly go wrong with Stage Door (8 a.m.), Holiday (10 a.m.), or Woman of the Year (2 p.m.) or any of the pictures they’re airing.

Happy birthday, Ms. Hepburn, wherever you may be!

Katharine Hepburn

Lauren Bacall: Goodbye to a Glorious Gal

The world lost a wonderful woman with the passing of the great Lauren Bacall.

We’ve told the story before, but what the heck: We’ve always felt a certain connection to Ms. Bacall because we were neighbors for a few months when we first moved to New York City straight out of college.

We initially got settled here after the move from Oklahoma City by subletting an apartment from a pal for the summer; it was a small office, really, that wasn’t intended (or zoned) to be a residence. One room, plus an entryway, a closet and a good-sized bathroom, but no kitchen (we ate a lot of peanut butter that summer).

But we didn’t care because it was located on 72nd Street, just east of Columbus Avenue, which anyone familiar with Manhattan knows is just down the street from the Dakota, storied digs of the rich and famous and home to Bogie‘s best gal.

We never spotted her on the street (don’t think we weren’t keeping a constant eye out), but we mailed her a picture postcard of one of her classic Hollywood headshots and she sent it back to us, autographed (see above).

That was a grand day.

We also stood in line at the TKTS booth to get cheap tickets to her triumphant run in Woman of the Year on Broadway. We waited after the show for her to emerge, and when she did, she passed no more than a two or three feet from us. We didn’t get to speak to her, alas, but it was a kick just to be that close. We were brand new to NYC, after all, and as devoted movie buffs, she was like royalty to us.

She was quite a dame and we’re sorry to see her go, but we’re grateful that she had such a good, long run.

Rest in peace, Ms. Bacall, and thanks.

Happy Birthday, Lauren Bacall!

The great Lauren Bacall turns 89 years young today.

We feel a connection to her because our first apartment—a sublet where we lived just a few months—was just down the block from The Dakota, where Ms. Bacall has long resided. We were thrilled at the mere proximity to her, so we sent her a postcard on which she was pictured in her youthful, smoky prime, and she was kind enough to send it back—autographed, as we’d requested.

A few months later, we waited in line to spend money we didn’t have on a discount ticket via the Times Square TKTS booth to see her on Broadway in Woman of the Year. Truth be told, we don’t recall that much about the show, but we vividly recall Ms. Bacall passing by us as we waited by the Palace Theatre‘s stage door (actually, we seem to recall the actors departed via the front door), so close we could have reached out and touched her (we resisted).

Bacall’s plenty swell in her own right, of course, but newbie to New York that we were, we couldn’t quite believe we were standing so close to the widow of our beloved Humphrey Bogart.

We’re awfully glad she’s still going strong, and we hope she has a stupendous birthday. We encourage all Cladrite Radio readers to whistle “Happy Birthday” in her honor. You know how to whistle, don’t you? You just put your lips together and blow.