In a bit of a one-two punch dealt by the universe, one of my childhood idols died yesterday.

I've loved Lauren Bacall ever since I saw her first film, To Have and Have Not.  I was, what, twelve or thirteen?  In the movies, she was beautiful, powerful, in control, and smart.  The ultimate ice queen.  She represented, for me, an era that I always thought I should have been born into and, to boot, she married my long-time crush, Humphrey Bogart.  And, yes, I'm aware of the fact that my teenage dreamboat-desire in the early 1980s was someone who died long before I was born... that's just a small glimpse into what a weird kid I was. Other pre-teen girls needed a teddy bear to decorate their bed.  I needed a Lauren Bearcall.  In fact, I still have it.

Incidentally, I also have the Humphrey Beargart.
There weren't a lot of opportunities, pre-Netflix-era, to order up a movie made forty years prior and watch it at will, so one of my hobbies back then was scouring the TV Guide (Ha! My kids don't even know what that is.) to find movies with either of those two and setting the VCR to record it, adding it to my collection of Bogie and Bacall movies on VHS tapes that I still probably have somewhere in my basement: Dark Passage, The Big Sleep, oh and let's not forget Key Largo. Oh, how I wish I'd lived New York City-adjacent when she was starring in shows on Broadway.  I would have loved to have been lucky enough to see her on the stage, which is where, I suspect, she really shined.

As I got a little older, I started to learn about Lauren Bacall - the person - and began to admire her for who she was, rather than the movies she made.  She had and valued an incredible work ethic.  She stood up for what she believed in and never backed down.  She wasn't afraid to speak out against injustice.  She taught me that being smart and having your own mind was a quality to aspire to, not to hide.  This is something that made my awkward teen years of not fitting in really anywhere much easier to withstand... and even appreciate.

Once after I'd moved to D.C., she was appearing at the Kennedy Center in a lecture series and I paid an arm and a leg to go see her, just to be in the same room with the woman who disliked being called a legend.  I was extremely poor then and couldn't afford it, but I never regretted spending the money.  She was brilliant, funny, and life-affirming. 

Like Robin Williams, I feel mostly for her children and family who will miss her.  But I also feel sad that she's not going to be in the world, adding to it, anymore.  The world is a little less classy today.  A little less opinionated.  A little less forthright. But in my mind, I imagine Hoagy Carmichael playing in the background and her wiggling across the dance floor into Bogie's arms and that makes me smile.

Some of my favorite Lauren Bacall quotes:

“Looking at yourself in a mirror isn’t exactly a study of life.”

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

“I find that through the sad times, work is what made my continuing, not breaking down, possible.”

“My life has had meaning, with the friendships full and valuable and essential to me. My children, Steve, Leslie, and Sam, are all different–all first-rate human beings with high standards–whom I completely and unequivocally adore–don’t always agree with–but always admire and respect. They all have wit and a sense of humor and, thank God, I have hung on to mine.”

“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."

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