Betty Bacall at Harper’s Bazaar

copyright Harper's Bazaar.  Do not copy

Photo by Louise Dahl-Wolfe Copyright Harper’s Bazaar. Do not copy.

Years ago when I first started buying and loving vintage fashion magazines, I found the May, 1943 issue of Harper’s Bazaar.  Browsing through it I was stopped dead at this photo of eighteen year old Lauren Bacall.  I had no idea she had been a model, as this was during the pre-everything-on-the-internet days. I also wanted to know if that dress was still available (kidding, sort of).

So much has been written about Bacall in the past week that I wondered if I really had anything to add.  Everything from how Diana Vreeland put her on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar which led to Mrs. Hawks seeing her photo to Mr. Hawks casting her opposite Bogart… But then I realized what I’ve not seen.  Except for the famous March, 1943 Harper’s Bazaar cover,  no one – not even the Harper’s Bazaar site – has shown the modeling shots from the magazine.

I thought I had the March, 1943 issue, but I don’t, but I did find Bacall photos in three other issues.  According to wikipedia, she also modeled for Vogue, but I could not find her in any of the copies I own.

Photo by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Copyright Harper’s Bazaar. Do not copy.

This photo from February, 1943 is the earliest photo that I found of Bacall.  I’ve read several places where  Howard Hawks changed her name to Bacall, but actually, it was her mother’s maiden name, and she had been using it for years.  He did suggest changing the Betty to Lauren.  Perhaps he thought since Hollywood already had Bette Davis and Betty Grable there was no room for Betty Bacall.

Photo by Polcer, Copyright Harper’s Bazaar. Do not copy.

In the same issue, Betty’s photo appears several more times, and in this feature on blouses, she is even identified as “the young actress, Betty Bacall”.  She had already appeared on Broadway at that time.  Note the pose with the chin tilted downward, the eyes slightly upward.  Bacall always said she used this pose during the filming of To Have and Have Not because it helped her control her nervousness.  This was obviously a young woman who knew her good side, even before she met Bogart.

Photo by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Copyright Harper’s Bazaar. Do not copy.

In 1943 women were wearing pants in their roles as war support workers, and Harper’s Bazaar showed them how to wear them fashionably.  And who better than Betty Bacall to show us how it’s done.

Photo by Engstead, Copyright Harper’s Bazaar. Do not copy.

These next photos are the last ones I found of Bacall, in the August, 1943 issue, show her modeling “winter cottons.”  The copy tells us that “Betty Bacall [was] plucked  by Hollywood straight out of our pages…”

Photo by Engstead Copyright Harper’s Bazaar. Do not copy.

I’m guessing this photo shoot took place before Bacall left New York in the spring of 1943.

To her friends, Lauren Bacall was always “Betty.”  I’ve been reading the Andy Warhol Diary, and when he encounters her, he too, a casual acquaintance,  calls her Betty.

Most of Betty Bacall’s clothing and accessories were donated to various institutions some time ago.  The Museum at FIT has a large portion, and before her death last week plans were already in the works for an exhibition for next year.

All photos are copyright Harper’s Bazaar.  DO NOT copy, put on Pinterest, Tumble, or otherwise use these photos.

10 Comments

Filed under Viewpoint

10 responses to “Betty Bacall at Harper’s Bazaar

  1. WOW.
    Thank you so much for these, Lizzie. I haven’t delved into vintage magazines, but will now keep my eyes peeled for them. Fantastic information!
    del

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  2. Carrie

    Fascinating; thanks for sharing these gorgeous images with us, Lizzie. My new holy grail: Feb-May 1943 issues of Harper’s Bazaar!

    According to Wikipedia, Louise Dahl-Wolfe “played a role” in the discovery of Bacall–intriguing to speculate exactly what that role was (though of course it didn’t take a genius to recognize Bacall’s extraordinary beauty…:) ).

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  3. What a find – I love these early photos of Lauren, and her suspender skirt is killing me, I love it (I have a soft spot for those).

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  4. WOW , Ms. Lizzie !!! THANK YOU…what TREASURES ! I find it so difficult to understand so very little has been done – in her memory-in “How To Marry A Millionaire she plays a model (1956?or so)? then the Vreeland discovery! WHY has their been NO retrospective done !? WE are talking about a “Time Capsule of fashion /glamour/theatre/film/beauty…are the current little “Media Twits” lacking in as much knowledge of all the above-or-perhaps they can’t put their own “twist” on this they ignore the subject?HOW SAD?!!! the recent “sweeping of Mrs. Vreeland is a perfect example?!!!!! I guess YOU wil be the ONLY “source of reverence”…..again ,,, THANK YOU for the photos!

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    • Much of the attention paid to Mrs. Vreeland has been generated by her family. The Eye Has to Travel was produced by her granddaughter-in-law. How that FIT is doing the Bacall retrospective I’m sure there will be lots of conversation about her style.

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  5. At the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit I saw in Denver some years ago, Bacall’s clothes were some of my favorite pieces. That woman had style!

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  6. My very fashionable maternal grandmother vocally admired Bacall which was unusual for her. She was older than Bacall, English, and admired Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. She appreciated Bacall’s unfussy elegance which she did not think was commonly found in Hollywood of the time.

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