By Dana Ford
(CNN) — Actress Lauren Bacall, the husky-voiced Hollywood icon known for her sultry sensuality, died Tuesday. She was 89.
Robbert de Klerk, co-managing partner of the Humphrey Bogart Estate, said Bacall died in New York.
She was anointed a legend during her lifetime by the American Film Institute, but she wasn’t fond of that, she told CNN’s Larry King in an interview in 2005.
“I don’t like the category. And to begin with, to me, a legend is something that is not on the Earth, that is dead,” she said.
Legends were part of the past, and Bacall preferred the present.
But her international fame began before the backdrop of World War II, in 1944 with her first film, “To Have and Have Not,” which she made with future husband Humphrey Bogart.
They married in 1945, had two children and went on to make more films together, including “The Big Sleep” (1946), “Dark Passage” (1947) and “Key Largo” (1948). Bogart died in 1957.
“He was an extraordinary, extraordinary man. I mean, I’ve been extremely lucky. God, I have no complaints at all,” Bacall said of her late husband during a 2005 interview with CNN’s Larry King.
Bacall’s grandson said he got a call early Tuesday from his father.
“She apparently had a stroke. A pretty massive stroke. That’s what happened,” said Jamie Bogart, who last saw Bacall over the holidays.
“She was, you can say she was a tough personality. She wanted the best and if you weren’t doing the best she let you know about it. She was a great person. Catch her on a bad day it could be interesting. She was a good grandma. She was lucky to have a pretty unique life,” he said.
A marriage to Jason Robards, which produced another child, actor Sam Robards, ended in divorce. Bacall was engaged to Frank Sinatra, briefly, between marriages.
Friend Dick Cavett, a former TV talk show host, said he and his wife were in a cab just 36 hours before the death was announced, driving by where Bacall lived and wondering aloud how she was doing.
“Her presence was tangible,” Cavett said. “There was no nonsense, no affectation. She wasn’t tough. But she could play tough.”
Cavett added: “She just was what a lot of young women would like to be. Someone that can’t be pushed around. Someone that could tell you where to head in … with a colorful, vile vocabulary if she needed to fall back on it.”
Bacall’s confident, smoldering expression — the down-turned face and up-turned eyes — earned her the nickname: The Look.
Ironically, the young woman originally struck the pose because she felt insecure.
“I mean, that was what started the look — was nerves — just trying to keep my head steady,” Bacall once said.
Bacall won two Tony Awards and an honorary Oscar; she was nominated for three Emmy Awards.
During the interview with King, Bacall said working on stage was her original dream.
“When the curtain goes up, [the stage is] ours. It’s ours to project what the playwright wants to say to an audience, what to convey and to get a response from the audience immediately.
“Movies are great fun and wonderful when they’re good. But you never get to see them till six months after they’re finished.
“So you never get a sense of whether they’re really well liked or how good they are. And you don’t really know what the finished product is going to be like, because it’s a director’s medium.”
Bacall was discovered by the wife of American film director Howard Hawks after she appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. As a lanky teen, she modeled to earn extra money.
Hawks later gave Bacall, who was born Betty Joan Perske, the name Lauren. Her last name, Bacall, came from her mother’s maiden name.
Her first autobiography, “Lauren Bacall: By Myself,” won the National Book Award in 1980. “By Myself and Then Some,” her updated autobiography, was published in 2005.
CNN’s Chelsea J. Carter, Dave Alsup and Nischelle Turner contributed to this report.
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