My avid admiration for certain things generally occurs unknowingly. I’m better at identifying triggers these days but sometimes it just happens. That’s not the case with Old Hollywood. Lauren BaCall introduced me to a glamorous world as exciting and wonderful as the movies the studios produced. One of our favorite movies growing up was My Fellow Americans, she played a former First Lady and was fantastic. When I saw her autobiography, By Myself, at the library I picked it up and never looked back. I can’t say if I knew about Katharine Hepburn before I read Betty’s book but I know my interest in Kate took off from that point. So much so, that I wrote a biography about her my senior year of high school and if I ever have a daughter I’d name her Katharine.
Lauren BaCall was a rarity and quite possibly the last of her kind. Clint Eastwood and Kirk Douglas represent the remaining classic era movie stars but I’m not sure there is a woman left. It saddens me because it was such a beautiful world and the actors of the time seemed to know they were part of something special. Thankfully, movies and books can preserve the greatness for eternity. As a tribute to Betty here are a few of my favorite movies that I watched because of her.
- To Have and Have Not – Lauren BaCall and (her husband) Humphrey Bogart
- Bringing Up Baby – Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant
- Libeled Lady – Spencer Tracy, Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy and William Powell
- Mogambo – Clark Gable, Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly
- The Barkleys of Broadway – Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire