Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Still Learning: Quotes by and about Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall - YankArmyWeekly detail

I know I'm not alone when I say I've always considered Lauren Bacall--that is, her public persona--an inspiration for women of all ages. From her early days in film, she always projected a woman who was strong, kind and honest. Nothing I've read in the past week's media shower about her life and passing has changed that view.

As you might have read in Ms. Bacall's obituary, Diana Vreeland hired her to model for Harper's Bazaar. Those photographs led to her Hollywood career. I already knew something about this because I read Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland by Amanda Mackenzie-Stuart last spring. The book mentions this time in Ms. Bacall's life. The other night, I pulled out the book to re-read the passages. If you haven't read the book, here are a couple of the lovely things Mrs. Vreeland said about "Betty."

"Betty's always been what used to be called a 'good kid.' It's rather a period phrase but it's the way I always think of her. I didn't think about her--I loved her. She was my special friend. She's always kept her own thoughts and her own dreams...She literally had nothing to offer but her existence. But I was so interested in her."

After Ms. Bacall married Humphrey Bogart, Mrs. Vreeland went to visit her in Hollywood. Mrs. Vreeland came upon Ms. Bacall while she was giving instructions to her gardener. Ms. Bacall didn't know Mrs. Vreeland was observing her. Mrs. Vreeland says...

"This is the little girl from 22nd  Street and Second Avenue. She was taking dried flowers out of a little envelope and her eyes were filled with stars. I've never seen anyone so happy, so adorable, and so in love. It was a dream come true...these things are so touching. You see them so rarely..."

Later in the same book, the author notes that the model Lauren Hutton was christened 'Mary,' but changed her name to 'Lauren' after Lauren Bacall. By the way, I highly recommend the Empress of Fashion, if you like to read biographies that are very colorful, highly entertaining, and inspiring. Author Mackenzie-Stuart does a masterful job of weeding out the truth about a woman who liked to, well, fabricate many of the details of her life. 

But...back to Lauren Bacall. In the course of the past week, I've read many quotes attributed to Ms. Bacall. These are the ones I found particularly inspiring...

“Imagination is the highest kite one can fly.”

“I am not a has-been. I am a will be.”

“Here is a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete. If you’re alive, it isn’t.”

"I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that."

“You don’t always win your battles, but it’s good to know you fought.”

“I figure if I have my health, can pay the rent, and I have my friends, I call it ‘content.’ 

I spent my childhood in New York, riding on subways and buses. And you know what you learn if you’re a New Yorker? The world doesn’t owe you a damn thing."

"Maybe it's just a hold-over from my modelling days, when I had to dress to the nines whether I felt like it or not, but I just don't like to doll up for my own admiration."

“A planned life is a dead life.”

Photo credit: By U.S. Army (Yank, the Army Weekly) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons