First published as By Myself in 1978, Bacall’s autobiography gives an honest and heartfelt recount of her life. She particularly focuses on her marriage to one of the greatest actors of the golden age of Hollywood, Humphrey Bogart (fondly referred to by Bacall as Bogie). Bacall, known to her friends as Betty (her birth name), details her family and her early modelling career before she shot to stardom in Howard Hawks’ To Have and Have Not (1944). Bacall was just 19 at the time. Her signature husky voice and unique beauty made her an overnight sensation. After finishing the picture, Bacall and Bogart would marry, and go on to star in three more motion pictures together. The 25 year difference between them was no obstacle, and their two children were the product of their twelve year marriage. Bogart died in 1957 of Oesophageal cancer, at the age of 57. The emotion with which Bacall details her final years with Bogart proves the depth of her love and admiration for him, as well as her capability as a writer.
After a tumultuous and short-lived relationship with Frank Sinatra, Bacall married actor Jason Robards in 1961. Despite their marriage lasting 8 years (almost as long as the marriage Bacall had shared with Bogart), their relationship was not a happy one. Bacall details how Robards was frequently absent in the evenings, and how she was left with the responsibility of looking after Sam (the son of Robards and Bacall) as well as Steven and Leslie (the two children from Bacall’s marriage to Bogart), and children from Robards’ previous marriages.
In 2006, 28 years after the publication of By Myself, Bacall published By Myself and Then Some. As the title suggests, it is a re-publication of By Myself, with an extra 77 pages detailing those 28 years. She describes events such as the loss of friends like Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, and the unimaginable tragedy of the 9/11 bombings. The exquisite quality of her writing continues as though no time has passed between the two parts of the book.
The way in which Bacall describes the glamour of the golden age of Hollywood and her love for Bogart is nothing short of eloquent. She makes the reading of a 500 page book a pleasure, where hours pass like minutes, and the reader is transported into the world of one of the greatest stars of the Old Hollywood era.
Bacall sadly passed away in August 2014, at the age of 89. She was thought of as the last remaining star, and will be remembered and missed by many.