Lauren Bacall

October 7, 1957 – Time’s People in the News

On October 7, 1957, the weekly installment of Time magazine included their regular feature on the doings of famous movers-and-shakers, the People column.  During a week which included continuing reports of the forced integration of – and military presence at –  Little Rock Central High School, and the announcement of the USSR’s launch of Sputnik 1, the American public probably enjoyed a lighter moment catching up on high-society and high-celebrity.  Some of the high-points:

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Ernest and Mary Hemingway in Venice, 1954.

“With plenty of works in progress but no finished manuscript under his arm, Novelist Ernest Hemingway arrived incognito with wife Mary at a midtown Manhattan hotel for a quiet holiday far from his Cuban finca.  Meanwhile, two short stories, the first new Hemingway fiction to be published since The Old Man and the Sea in 1952, were being put to bed for the centennial issue of the Atlantic, which will be out at the end of October.  Apparently stemming from the experience Hemingway underwent when he was temporarily blinded after his plane crash in Africa in 1954, the stories are paired under the title “Two Tales of Darkness”.

“Following the long antarctic night, the sun rose over the U.S. base at the South Pole last week, and Polar Explorer Paul Siple (Time cover, Dec. 31, 1956) led 17 scientists and servicemen into the open for the reveille that comes there technically only once every six months.  With the temperature at a numbing  minus 88°F and an 18-knot wind blowing across the polar wastes, the ceremonial hoisting of Old Glory turned out to be about the most frenzied since the famed planting of the flag under fire at Iwo Jima.”

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LOS ANGELES – OCTOBER 10: Singer Frank Sinatra and actress Lauren Bacall attend a party for the musical ‘Pal Joey’ on October 10, 1957 in Los Angeles, California.

“In seclusion since the death last January of Cinemactor Humphrey Bogart, his widow, Cinemactress Lauren Bacall, was stepping out with an old family friend, Cinemactor Frank Sinatra.  Lauren was recently draped on Frankie’s arm for the Las Vegas premiere of his new movie The Joker is Wild, last week went along with him to a closed-circuit telecast of the Sugar-Ray Robinson – Carmello Basilio fight in a Hollywood theater from which they emerged looking as happy as if they had bet on Winner Basilio.  But though Hollywood gossips buzzed, both Lauren and Frankie denied a wedding is in the wind.”

Eleanor Roosevelt guides visiting Nikita Khrushchev through the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park, September 18, 1959. Photo: US National Archives & Records Administration, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Public Domain

Eleanor Roosevelt guides visiting Nikita Khrushchev through the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park, September 18, 1959.

“Describing the Russian people as ‘wonderful’, Globetrotter Eleanor Roosevelt, 72, climaxed her first trip to the Soviet Union by interviewing Communist Boss Nikita S. Khrushchev for almost three hours at his summer villa on the Black Sea near Yalta.  ‘War is unthinkable,’ Khrushchev told Mrs. Roosevelt, who called the hard-drinking, explosive Soviet leader ‘a cordial, simple, outspoken man who got angry at certain spots and emphasized the things he believed.’  But when Khrushchev accused her of hating Communists, Mrs. Roosevelt quickly replied: ‘Oh no, I don’t.  I don’t hate anybody.  I don’t believe in Communism as an ideological way of life.'”

Image Credit (Eleanor Roosevelt): US National Archives & Records Administration, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Public Domain

Where Were They Then? Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall, in a still from "Designing Woman"

Lauren Bacall, in a still from “Designing Woman”


Barely two weeks into the new year of 1957, on January 14th, Lauren Bacall lost the love of her life, husband Humphrey Bogart, to esophageal cancer. She had recently completed Designing Woman, directed by Vincente Minnelli and co-starring her good friend Gregory Peck. Bogie and Bacall’s son, Steven Humphrey, had just turned eight on January 6th. Leslie, their four-year-old daughter, would celebrate her fifth birthday on August 23rd. At Bogie’s funeral, Lauren placed a silver whistle in his casket as a memento of their first film together, the classic To Have and Have Not. “You know how to whistle, don’t you?” she had purred to sailor “Steve”. “You just put your lips together and blow.”

Widowed and a single parent at 32, Bacall squared her slim shoulders and kept going. She committed to filming The Gift of Love with Robert Stack and director Jean Negulesco. She dazzled on the red carpet for Designing Woman‘s New York premiere on May 16th. She entered into a brief rebound relationship with Frank Sinatra, who called everything off when their engagement became a gossip column item. Surely she felt older than 33 when her birthday came around on September 16th.

Both 1957 and 1958 were difficult years for Bacall, but better times were coming for the former Betty Perske. In 1959 she would reinvent herself as an acclaimed Broadway actress in New York and in 1961 she would marry again, to actor Jason Robards. “I put my career in second place throughout both my marriages and it suffered,” Lauren revealed. “I don’t regret it. You make choices. If you want a good marriage, you must pay attention to that. If you want to be independent, go ahead. You can’t have it all.”

To a classy lady, who was born to Eastern European immigrants and then made it to the very-big time, “Here’s looking at you, kid.”