Lauren Bacall's Famous Romances

It's a little odd that Lauren Bacall isn't sitting alongside Humphrey Bogart in all those posters of him, James Dean, Elvis Presley, and Marilyn Monroe that adorn at least one dorm room wall in colleges across America. Bacall was closer to their generation and was even a co-star of Monroe's in "How to Marry a Millionaire." Meanwhile, Bogart was an active performer throughout his life, and from his marriage to Becall after filming "To Have and Have Not" until his death, his bond with her was a significant part of his public persona.

Bacall may not have made the 1950s icon posters, but she had her own iconography. She was another star who kept active until the end — her last credit was for an episode of "Family Guy" that aired in 2014, the same year she died at 89. Her longevity made her one of the last survivors of the Golden Age of Hollywood, and she made a name for herself as an actress apart from her famous first husband. But the romance of Bogart and Bacall is as much a part of her legacy as his, and she carried on other notable romances after his death: Frank Sinatra and her second husband, Jason Robards.

Humphrey Bogart

Some Hollywood power couples end up branded with a portmanteau like "Brangelina." For Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, their alliterative surnames were enough. Bogart and Bacall were among the most iconic couples of the immediate postwar period, not only for their romance but for their on-screen chemistry in several stylish film noir pictures. And their life away from the cameras was happy, if complicated.

Bacall recalled in her memoir "By Myself and Then Some" that she and Bogart first met on the set of "Passage to Marseille" in 1943. Soon after, they were cast together in "To Have and Have Not." Bogart was 44 and an established star; Bacall was 19 with almost no acting experience. Despite the age difference, the two fell in love during filming. Their early romance encountered bumps along the way — Bogart was still in a disastrous marriage to Mayo Methot, and director Howard Hawks, who was Bacall's mentor, disapproved of the relationship. But the stars remained smitten with one another, and on May 21, 1945, after Bogart's divorce from Methot, they wed.

Bogart and Bacall stayed together until his death. They had two children together, and when Bogart fell ill with cancer, Bacall pulled back from acting to look after him. They may not have been an entirely faithful couple — Bogart's hairdresser promoted her own affair with the star, an affair author Stefan Kanfer called "unverified" in "Tough Without a Gun." But the two remained deeply in love until Bogart's death. 

Frank Sinatra

Legend has it that it was Lauren Bacall who first coined the phrase "Rat Pack" to refer to husband Humphrey Bogart's circle of friends. It wasn't meant as a compliment; according to A. M. Sperber and Eric Lax's "Bogart," Bacall saw the aftermath of a wild Las Vegas bender and told the men responsible, "You look like a god damn rat pack." The guilty parties included Bogart, David Niven, Mike Romanoff, Charlie Feldman, and Frank Sinatra, who came up with the idea for the expedition.

Sinatra and the Bogarts were good friends. Bacall recounted for The Guardian how her husband teased her that Sinatra had a crush on her, while she thought the singer was platonically mad for Bogart. Sinatra was a frequent caller while Bogart was dying of cancer. For Bacall, tasked with nursing her older and ailing husband, the visits were welcome. "He represented physical health — vitality. I needed that," Bacall wrote in "By Myself and Then Some," later adding, "Part of me needed a man to talk to, and Frank turned out to be that man. ... It wasn't planned. It simply was."

Some have insinuated that an affair began then, before Bogart had passed. Sperber and Lax quote William Campbell's suspicions that Bacall was the more interested of the two, and that Bogart and Sinatra's friendship soured over it. But Bacall maintained that it came after her husband's death. In any event, it was intense but brief; Sinatra abruptly broke things off after their engagement leaked to the press.

Jason Robards Jr.

In an interview with Jeremy Isaacs in 1995 (via The New York Times), Lauren Bacall said, "I had one great marriage." She didn't name which one, but her consistent expressions of affection for her years with Humphrey Bogart didn't leave it much of a question. Her marriage to Jason Robards Jr., by contrast, was rarely mentioned by the press. Bacall occasionally seemed upset about that, but she also never waxed romantic about her second marriage the way she did about the first.

Robards, the son of silent film actor Jason Robards Sr., followed his father into show business and eventually caught a break through his work in "The Iceman Cometh." Given his profession and an assumed physical resemblance to Bogart by some journalists, the story presented in some quarters was that Bacall had fallen for a substitute. It was a charge Bacall deeply resented. "My time with Jason bore no resemblance to my life with Bogie, none," she told Vanity Fair. "He didn't look anything like Bogie, and he didn't behave anything like Bogie. He didn't think anything like Bogie."

They were married for eight years. The wedding itself, in 1961, was complicated by their not having legal documents at the ready. They had one child together before Bacall ended things, in part over one trait Robards had in common with Bogart: alcoholism. By choice, Bacall kept a cordial distance afterward.

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