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Lunch Break Video: Lauren Bacall sings!

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You probably don’t know this, but screen legend Lauren Bacall has won just as many Tony Awards – two – for best actress in a musical as such Broadway divas as Patti LuPone, Chita Rivera and Bernadette Peters and one more than the great Ethel Merman in this category.

No, Bacall didn’t have their great pipes. But she always has had great ambition and determination, made the most with what she had and triumphed in two long-running shows written with just her in mind: Applause and Woman of the Year. She won Tonys for BOTH and they were the only Broadway musicals she ever did.

Both shows came during lulls in her movie career and she not only stayed with them for at least a few years on Broadway, but also took them to London and out on national tour. She also did two sold-out years in the comedy Cactus Flower.

“I received a kind of recognition on the stage that I had not received before,” Miss Bacall told me in a 2004 interview we did for Orange Coast Magzzine. “When I was in Cactus Flower, they thought I was maybe just a movie star dabbling, you know? But when I came out on stage in Applause, they did sit up and take notice and so that was very gratifying for me.”

Here are some clips of the great Bacall, still making movies at 84, singing at various times in her career:

Here is Lauren Bacall in her film debut: 1944′s To Have and Have Not. She was just 19 and the movie not only made her an overnight star, but she met and fell in love with leading man Humphrey Bogart whom she married and had two children. In this scene, the sultry newcomer sings How Little We Know with Hoagy Carmichael playing the piano.

In our interview, Miss Bacall she told me that among her film performances that she is most proud of is the 1981 movie The Fan. She played a Broadway star being stalked by a psycho and I loved it because we got to see her do some musical numbers including this one.

This is a rarely-seen short clip of Miss Bacall singing Stephen Sondheim’s I’m Still Here at what looks like someone’s party at a private home. She’s older here, and still as glamorous as ever.

And finally, here is Miss Bacall doing I’m Alive from Applause. Thank God CBS did a TV movie of the stage production which earned its star an Emmy nomination. She’s just glorious here – at the peak of her considerable powers. I’d really love to see this released on DVD!

“That was the perfect, perfect show,” Miss Bacall told me. “It was perfect in every way.”

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  1. Bacall is perhaps best known for being a film noir leading lady in such films as The Big Sleep (1946) and Dark Passage (1947), as well as a comedienne, as seen in 1953′s How to Marry a Millionaire and 1957′s Designing Woman. Bacall also enjoyed success starring in the Broadway musicals Applause in 1970 and Woman of the Year in 1981. She won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in the movie The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996).

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