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Do a quick Google search on Lauren Bacall and you will get a steaming pile of stories of intimidation -- from what I can tell, a casual encounter with the woman could be an absolute dream -- or your worst nightmare. Perhaps it was her smoldering eyes that scared the living daylights out of people, but people seemed to be truly frightened by the woman.
But reading her biography, By Myself, I find an endearing vulnerability to the woman. And really, there is a lot to admire about her. A geek for inspiring stories, this is one of my favorites I have read in any Hollywood biography:
It seems Bacall heard legendary theatrical producer George Kaufman was casting a new play -- and she was determined to get a role. So she hung around his office -- indeed, she basically stalked the man. She could never track him down, but her rather annoying behavior had made its way through the secretary rumor mill up to him.
One day she received this letter in the mail:
Dear Betty Bacall,
I'm not so hard to reach as all that - the Lyceum Theatre or a note here (above). THere's nothing near your age in the play, so there's nothing I can do about that. But there ought to be another play sometime and I'll always try hard.
The best of wishes, and cheer up. It can happen any minute.
I love that. "Cheer up. It can happen any minute."
Wise words for all of us, and prophetic ones for Bacall: she would eventually make her stage debut in George S. Kaufman's Franklin Street.