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Five reasons why Lauren Bacall was the coolest actress ever

Five reasons why Lauren Bacall was the coolest actress ever
Photograph: Shutterstock

Lauren Bacall, who yesterday died a few weeks before her ninetieth birthday, was the last of Hollywood’s golden age stars, famous for her husky voice and smoldering, come-hither eyes. Here are some of the reasons she was so incredibly cool.

1. She was an accidental sex symbol
Lauren Bacall was working as a model in New York when she was spotted on a magazine cover and whisked off to Hollywood to star in To Have and Have Not. She was so nervous on set that she had to lower her chin to her chest to stop trembling. That was the beginning of “The Look”—the tough, sexy glance that sent men—Humphrey Bogart included—drooling and weak at the knees.

2. She had a happy Hollywood marriage
To Have and Have Not made Bacall an overnight star at 19 and she famously fell in love with her co-star, Humphrey Bogart. “There was no clap of thunder, no lightning bolt, just a simple “how do you do”” is how she described their first meeting in her autobiography. She was 20 and he was 45 when they married. The Brad and Angelina of their day, Bogie and Bacall made three more films and had 12 years together. When Bogart died of cancer in 1957, she was just 32.

3. She told the Hollywood body fascists where to get off
In Hollywood’s eyes, Lauren Bacall was a tough cookie—refusing makeover attempts to pluck her thick eyebrows and fix her crooked teeth. Later she said: “I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.” She also got on the wrong side of the studio system for refusing to star in movies she thought were rubbish.

4. She always spoke her mind
Even about her legendary marriage—admitting that being Mrs Bogey damaged her career. “Oh, yes, because he wanted a wife. He didn’t want an actress,” she told Vanity Fair in 2011. In her autobiography she wrote that Frank Sinatra, to whom she was briefly engaged after Bogart died, behaved “like a shit”. Here’s her best line on men: “Find me a man who’s interesting enough to have dinner with and I’ll be happy.”

5. She just got cooler with age
Just look at the portrait for this Vanity Fair interview. In her seventies and eighties Bacall worked with a new generation of directors including Lars Von Trier on Dogville (2003) and Jonathan Glazer on Birth (2004). “I am still working, I’ve never stopped and, while my health holds out, I won’t stop,” she told The Observer in 2005.

This week we lost another great, Robin Williams. Take a look at the ten reasons we love him.

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