Several social commentators have taken credit for suggesting that various ‘golden ages’ are all about 50 years ago. This figure seems close enough to be imaginable and relevant but sufficiently distant to have passed from current practices.
One such discussion is of ‘the golden age of Hollywood’ where stars (and starlets) were contracted to the studio system and existed in a glamorous bubble. Whilst it did exist, (from the 30’s to the late 50’s) it probably never reached the excesses which the studio publicity divisions suggested.
However, one star who lived in that period and shone more brightly than most was Lauren Bacall. Married to Humphrey Bogart she was Hollywood royalty starring opposite every leading man worth his salt – and plenty who weren’t up to her direct and exceptionally capable acting style.
She was recognised albeit it quietly and almost in passing by the great and the good of the Academy in that most painful of awards, the lifetime achievement award. Frequently nominated but never having won in her own right, the award was accepted with genuine humility – but I for one would have loved her to have been acknowledged for the true power she was.
Her distinctive voice (once described as sounding as though she had been smoked in Vodka) and head down, eyes up pose made her exude confidence at a time when that was unusual for a woman. She told others in interviews that this persona was far from the truth and the position of her head (later arguably copied by Princess Dianna) was actually the only way she could stop her nerves from showing.
Regardless of the truth v perception surrounding this iconic screen actress, I can’t think of another of her peers alive who can claim to be part of the golden age of cinema, Hollywood or acting.
It may very well be that this is one of those rare moments where an age has come to an end and the last in a generation has finally left the stage. Known for her initial role (To Have and Have Not) she dominated her first scenes and was an instant success – a sad contrast to the relative silence in which she leaves