Wednesday 13 August 2014

A Sky full of Stars, and a Whistle

Two Hollywood greats gone in two days - one a comic genius, the other a legend. I felt truly sad to hear that the 'black dog' of depression had claimed Robin Williams yesterday at the age of 63. He had been fighting his demons for years, and finally, tragically, they won.

Photo: Mark Mann from Series 'Esquire Life of Man'

 As a stand-up comedian he was unparalleled - his speed of delivery was as quick as lightning, his impressions spot-on, his jokes - often against himself - side-splittingly funny. In interviews he was frenetic, whacky and unpredictable but he could make you laugh until you cried. And as if that wasn't talent enough, his acting skills, both in comedy and straight roles were bountiful.  I was an avid "Mork and Mindy" fan back in the late 70's - the sheer zaniness and joy of the show made it must-watch TV, and as I re-watched "Awakenings" last night I was reminded just what a great straight actor he was. I now feel compelled to re-visit "Good Will Hunting" and "Dead Poets' Society" just to enjoy the sheer power of those stand-out performances.  Luckily I can always enjoy "Aladdin" and "Mrs Doubtfire" with my boys and we still have "Night at the Museum 3" to look forward to - they love his Teddy Roosevelt in the first two films, as do I.

Photo: Peggy Sirota for Parade

Wiliams' daughter Zelda quoted from Antoine de Saint Exupery's "Le Petit Prince" when she paid tribute to him yesterday: “You — you alone will have the stars as no one else has them…In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night…You — only you — will have stars that can laugh.” She said she would try to keep looking up... To that I can only add "O Captain, my Captain" - your genius will live on.

Photo: Dan Steinberg

And then today, Lauren Bacall. A true star and fashion icon who is as much referenced now for her elegant style and trademark curls as she was back in her heyday, Bacall was always her own woman - sassy, forthright and independent. As a couple with husband Humphrey Bogart - they met on the set of "To Have and Have Not" when she was 19 and he was 44 - she was Hollywood royalty, and their films together crackle with the chemistry of their romance.

Bacall in the 1940's

Photo: Rex

On the set of "To Have and Have Not" 1944 - Photo: Corbis Archive

Bacall dressed in a pared down, simple way and she described her style as 'studied carelessness". I particularly love her Summer off-duty wardrobe which remains timeless and modern:

Photo: Rex

Photo: Rex

Photo: Rex

Photo: Rex

Though she easily held her own against Marilyn on the red carpet:

Bacall and Monroe at the 1953 premiere of "How to Marry a Millionaire"

One of the other things I admired so much about her was her attitude to ageing: she did so gracefully and never lost her love for sequins:

Bacall in 1972

 Bacall at the Oscars in 1975 with Costume Designer Theoni V. Aldredge - Photo: AP

Bacall at the White House 1980 - Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage

Bacall with David Lynch - Photo: Andre Rau

Bacall in 2010 - Photo AFP/Getty Images Rich Schmitt

Starring together in the classic "To Have and Have Not" in 1944, Bacall utters the famous lines: "You know how to whistle don't you Steve?  You just put your lips together... and blow." When Bogart died in 1957, Bacall put a whistle in his coffin. I hope her family put one in hers...

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