Actress Lauren Bacall has passed on. I only saw a few of her movies with Humphrey Bogart. I also saw her in the Stephen King movie Misery, in which she played author Paul Sheldon’s agent. Apparently, she was also in an episode of Family Guy, but I would have to watch that episode again, as parts of it I remember, and parts of it are fuzzy to me.
I was thinking this morning about Ann Coulter’s reference to Bacall in her book, Treason, which was Coulter’s defense of McCarthyism. According to Coulter, both Bacall and Bogie ultimately distanced themselves from the Hollywood Ten, who refused to answer questions by the House Committee on Un-American Activities about whether they were members of the Communist Party USA.
This stood out to me because I had often heard that Bogie and Bacall traveled to Washington, D.C. to support the Hollywood Ten, but not that they later rescinded that support. Ann Coulter narrates that Bogie and Bacall were embarrassed by the Hollywood Ten’s extreme rants, such as the claim of one of the ten that the congressmen were Nazis and that concentration camps would be set up in America. Lauren Bacall said, “We were so naive it was ridiculous.” The article that Coulter cites for the Bacall quote, however, contextualizes it differently: Bacall was saying she was naive because reporters were asking her hard questions, and the actors and actresses there were accustomed to softball questions from movie magazines. Bacall, after all, went on to say, “When the press started to ask us questions, they had a field day.”
Wikipedia acknowledges that Bogie and Bacall distanced themselves from the Hollywood Ten, but it narrates it a bit differently, as if Bogie and Bacall were trying to protect themselves:
“In October 1947, Bacall and Bogart traveled to Washington, D.C., along with other Hollywood stars, in a group that called itself the Committee for the First Amendment (CFA). She appeared alongside Humphrey Bogart in a photograph printed at the end of an article he wrote, titled I’m No Communist’, in the May 1948 edition of Photoplay magazine, written to counteract negative publicity resulting from his appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Bogart and Bacall distanced themselves from the Hollywood Ten and said: ‘We’re about as much in favor of Communism as J. Edgar Hoover.'”
Moreover, wikipedia’s article on the Hollywood Ten states: “In his 1981 autobiography, Hollywood Red, screenwriter Lester Cole [who was one of the Ten] stated that all of the Hollywood Ten had in fact been Communist Party USA members. Other members of the Hollywood Ten, such as Dalton Trumbo and Edward Dmytryk, have also admitted to being Communists at the time the Committee questioned them.”
You can click on the footnotes if you want to see wikipedia’s sources.
Why was this of concern? Because there was fear that Hollywood Communists would use movies as Communist propaganda, portraying the Soviets as good and capitalists as evil.
Whatever she did during the Hollywood blacklisting years, Bacall remained a liberal throughout her life.
Anyway, this was a rather tedious post to write. Maybe someone will find it interesting.
R.I.P., Lauren Bacall.