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10 Things you didn’t know about Lauren Bacall

Screen legend Lauren Bacall has passed away at the age of 89, leaving behind a lasting legacy thanks to films like To Have and Have Not and Key Largo. In celebration of the amazing actress’s well-lived life, we found some interesting things you may not have known.

1. Her signature stare wasn’t as confidence-filled as you might imagine

Bacall was widely known for her trademark gaze — lowered chin, come-hither and confident stare — affectionately dubbed “The Look.” In reality, though, that famous look was born out of necessity. “I used to tremble from nerves so badly that the only way I could hold my head steady was to lower my chin practically to my chest and look up at Bogie,” she once revealed. “That was the beginning of ‘The Look.'”

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2. This icon had some pretty iconic costars, too

In 1953, Bacall costarred with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable in How to Marry a Millionaire. In 1966, she shared the screen with Paul Newman in Harper. In 1974, it was Murder on the Orient Express alongside Ingrid Bergman. In 1976, she costarred with John Wayne in his last movie, The Shootist.

3. Her husky voice wasn’t always so husky

Famed director Howard Hawks reportedly dismissed Bacall because, at the time, she had a high, nasally voice. Undeterred, the actress spent several weeks honing her tone. Afterward, she returned to see Hawks, this time boasting the deep, husky voice she became known for. Interestingly enough, this feat also resulted in a vocal disorder being named after her (and her late husband, Humphrey Bogart). Bogart-Bacall Syndrome, or BBS, refers to strain caused by abuse or overuse of the vocal cords.

4. She never felt like Hollywood gave her a fair shake

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 1998, Bacall lamented about the lack of depth in the roles she had been offered throughout her career. “I was never given the opportunity to have any variety,” she confessed. “It’s just a fact of life that I don’t think I’ve ever been taken particularly seriously in movies by movie makers. I don’t know why.”

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5. Her name has been immortalized in music

Bacall and her late husband were referenced in the 1980s hit “Key Largo,” which sings, “We had it all, just like Bogie and Bacall.” In Madonna’s 1990 No. 1 hit “Vogue,” Bacall is mentioned alongside other icons in one of the song’s most popular lines. “They had style, they had grace/Rita Hayworth gave good face/Lauren, Katharine, Lana too/Bette Davis, we love you.” She was also given a shout-out in Evita’s stage and movie versions. “I’m their savior! That’s what they call me, so Lauren Bacall me. Anything goes!”

6. You’ve heard of “The Rat Pack,” right? You can thank Bacall for that

Although not confirmed, Bacall is at the center of a favorite rumor regarding the moniker given to a group of famous friends in New York. Supposedly, upon seeing Bogart and his buddies come home after a late night in Las Vegas, Bacall uttered something along the lines of, “You look like a goddamn rat pack.”

7. She heard the gunshot that killed John Lennon

Up until her own death, the 89-year-old actress lived in The Dakota apartment building on the Upper West Side — the same apartment building where John Lennon lived and where he was shot and subsequently died. Bacall later revealed in a U.K. interview that, although she’d heard the gunshot, she assumed it was probably just a vehicle backfiring.

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8. Frank Sinatra put a ring on it

Well, for a hot minute, anyway. After Bogart passed away, longtime friend Sinatra came a’ calling. After a brief courtship, he proposed and she said yes. Unfortunately, after the news of their engagement was leaked, Sinatra vanished from her life for all intents and purposes, prompting Bacall later in life to insist he had “behaved like a s***.”

 9. Her son, Sam Robards, had a godmother like no other

Clearly, Bacall kept company with many famous faces and iconic entertainers. One such relationship that never seemed to dull over time was that of her friendship with screen legend Katharine Hepburn. The two were so close, in fact, that Bacall made Hepburn her son Sam’s godmother.

10. Despite her reputation as a diva, Bacall never believed her own hype

Bacall topped several lists of most beautiful — and even sexiest — women alive during her lifetime. The humble stunner, however, didn’t get what the fuss was all about. “I always thought I had crooked eyebrows and crooked teeth,” she admitted in her autobiography, By Myself and Then Some. “That’s why I never understood why people called me a beauty.”

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