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.
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.
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.
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.
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…”
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.