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Who Was Lauren Bacall? 5 Things to Know

Lauren Bacall
Sunset Boulevard / Corbis

The film star has died at age 89

Lauren Bacall, one of Hollywood’s most legendary leading ladies, died Tuesday at age 89. For those unfamiliar with the award-winning actress or her decades-spanning career, here is a quick crash course:

She got her start as a model: Before she made her cinematic breakthrough, Bacall was getting by as a model in New York City, where she snagged the cover of Harper’s Bazaar at the age of 19. Slim Hawks, the wife of To Have and Have Not director Howard Hawks, saw her on the cover and suggested her husband bring Bacall in for a screen test. Because obviously–look at that smolder.

She delivered this famous film line: In 1944′s To Have and Have Not, Bacall’s character tells Humphrey Bogart’s character, “You do know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.” The line is ranked on the American Film Institute’s list of top movie quotes, coming in at No. 34.

She had some famous romances: Bacall and Bogart began their relationship while filming To Have and Have Not. They wed in 1945 when she was 20 and he was 45, had two children and remained married until 1957, when Bogart died of cancer. After his death, she was briefly engaged to Frank Sinatra, but the singer broke it off — to her eventual relief. “Frank did me a great favor,” she told People magazine in 1979. “He saved me from the complete disaster our marriage would have been. But the truth is that he behaved like a complete sh-t. Still, that was over 20 years. When I run into him now, we give each other a nice hello.” Bacall later married actor Jason Robards, Jr., and with him had another child, Sam Robards, who also became an actor.

She’s known for the Lauren Bacall “Look”: “I used to tremble from nerves so badly that the only way I could hold my head steady was to lower my chin practically to my chest and look up at Bogie,” she told People about the origins of her trademark. “That was the beginning of the Look. I still get the shakes from time to time.”

She later became a theater star: Following her Hollywood success, Bacall eventually transitioned to a career on Broadway, where she won Tony Awards for roles in Applause and Woman of the Year. Despite the mark she left on movie history, Bacall never won an Oscar for her work, though she did receive an honorary award from the Academy in 2009.

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