Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam

Danny Kaye came from his Broadway show, Two By Two, to congratulate Lauren Bacall on the first anniversary of her Broadway musical, Applause, in 1971
Photo by Tim Boxer

Tim Boxer

Tim Boxer: Lauren Bacall Beat Prejudice

By Tim Boxer, written August 15, 2014, posted Sept 1, 2014




Lauren Bacall, a leading lady of Hollywood’s golden age died on August 12 at 89 in her home in New York. Although she lived in a decidedly gentile atmosphere she never forgot where she came from.



Actually she came from the Bronx where she was born Betty Joan Perske on September 16, 1924. Her mother was Natalie Weinstein-Bacal, a Romanian Jewish immigrant; her father was William Perske, born in New Jersey to Polish Jewish parents. Betty is a first cousin of Shimon Peres (nee Szymon Perski).



Film director Howard Hawks discovered the sultry blond siren as a 17-year-old cover girl on Harper’s Bazaar in 1943. He brought her to Hollywood and changed her name to Lauren. In the following year she made her screen debut in Hawks’ To Have and Have Not, opposite Humphrey Bogart. She was hot. They named her The Look, for her tendency to pose seductively — chin down and eyes up.



Bacall could seduce with just a look, and that’s just what happened—the two stars sizzled on and off screen and married in 1945. She called him Bogie; he called her Baby. They were paired in four films and spawned two children, son Stephen Humphrey Bogart and daughter Leslie Howard Bogart.




Bogart had the children christened in his Episcopalian church. He wanted to spare them the indignity of growing up in a world not particularly friendly to Jews. Bacall told a reporter in 1994 that Hawks used to make anti-Semitic remarks “and I didn’t know what to do. I was so young and scared and I guess I didn’t have enough character.”




As she matured, she became her own person. She was independent, determined to make a success of her life, and proud of her heritage. In an appearance on the Phil Donohue television talk show in 1980, she was asked her religious preference. “I have lots of faith and conviction,” she answered. “I’m Jewish…I don’t practice the religion…I believe in it, though. I mean I believe in Israel…Now, at last, I’m very glad that I’m Jewish. I wasn’t always, but I am now.”




The 12-year mixed marriage with Bogie came to an anguished end in 1957 when he succumbed to throat cancer. She was devastated, but not for long. Along came Frank Sinatra, captivated by Lauren’s husky voice and sensual looks. But Ol’ Blue Eyes broke off their brief engagement in a huff when the press got wind of it. Lauren fled into the arms of Jason Robards Jr. in 1961, gave birth to a son, actor Sam Robards, and divorced in 1969 after eight years of marriage.




Bacall concludes her 2006 memoir, By Myself and Then Some, with these heart-felt words: “Going back through my life until now, the Jewish family feeling stands strong and proud, and at last I can say I am glad I sprang from that. I would not trade those roots – that identity.” 




Winnipeg-born Tim Boxer was a columnist at the New York Post for two decades and has been writing a column for The New York Jewish Week for 35 years; he's also editor of for 16 years. He is the author of Jewish Celebrity Hall of Fame, interviews of Hollywood stars about their Jewish roots.






<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Fillmore Riley
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Winter's Collision Repair
  • Gray Academy
  • Jacqueline Simkin
  • Coughlin Insurance
  • Joyce Rykiss
  • CHW
  • The J Hansen HVAC Group
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • The Lazareck Family
  • Imperial Soap
  • GTP
  • Piston Ring
  • Nick's Inn
  • Lori Shenkarow
  • Roseman Corp.
  • Tyler Bucklaschuk
  • TD Canada Trust
  • Sobey's
  • Daniel Friedman and Rob Dalgliesh
  • The Lipkin Family
  • Booke and Partners
  • Bruce Shefrin Interior Design
  • Fair Service
  • Daien Denture Clinic
  • Thovaldson Care
  • Laufman Reprographics
  • Amalgamated Drywall Systems Ltd.
  • Maric Homes
  • Artista Homes
  • Tradesman Mechanical
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Ronald B. Zimmerman
  • Commercial Pool
  • Lanny Silver
  • Fetching Style
  • Rudy Fidel
  • Shindico
  • Dakota Chiropractic Office
  • Myrna Driedger
  • Shirley and Bob Freedman
  • The Chisick Family
  • Carol and Barry McArton
  • The Shinewald Family
  • Dr. Ted and Harriet Lyons
  • Munroe Dental Centre
  • Ixtapa Travel
  • Hill Sokalski Walsh
  • D'arcy and Deacon
  • The Charach Family
  • Esther and Sid Halpern
  • Myers LLP
  • The Lazar Family
  • Dr. Marshall Stitz
  • Cavalier Candies
  • Cdn Visa
  • Kowall Chiropractic Centres
  • Dr. Brent Schacter
  • Doheny Securities
  • Ambassador Mechanical
  • Peerless Garments
  • Pitblado
  • Cindy Lamoureux
  • HUB International
  • Philip Kahanovtich
  • Global Philathropic Canada
  • Sorrento's
  • Taverna Rodos
  • Aziza Family
  • Western Scrap Metals
  • Cascade Financial Group Inc.
  • James Bezan
  • Larry N. Maguire
  • Malaya Marcelino
  • Candice Bergen
  • Safeway
  • John Orlikow
  • Ross Eadie
  • Orthodox Union
  • Saul Simmonds
  • Bridges for Peace
  • Chochy's
  • City Sheet Metal
  • Superlite
  • Stephen Rosenfield
  • Abe and Toni Berenhait
  • The Lofchick Famiy
  • Stringer Rentals
  • John Wishnowski
  • Ingrid Bennet
  • Winnipeg Board of Jewish Education
  • Asper Jewish Community Campus
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Grant Kurian Trucking
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Gulay Plumbing
  • Kristina's
  • West Kildonan Auto
  • The Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
  • Maric Homes
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.