In her own words: Lauren Bacall talks about her Jewish identity

Print More
Pin-up photo of Lauren Bacall for the November 24/26, 1944 issue of Yank, the Army Weekly, a weekly U.S. Army magazine fully staffed by enlisted men.

"Lauren Bacall - YankArmyWeekly detail" by U.S. Army - Yank, the Army Weekly. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Pin-up photo of Lauren Bacall for the November 24/26, 1944 issue of Yank, the Army Weekly, a weekly U.S. Army magazine fully staffed by enlisted men.

Active RNS subscribers and members can view this content by logging-in here.

(RNS) The screen icon had a conflicted relationship with her Jewishness that characterized post-World War II Hollywood.

  • Lles Nats

    Isn’t the term “semitic” supposed to be descriptive of a race…assumedly a race that shares common physical characteristics?

  • Sharon

    Thanks for posting this. I’m feeling that Robin William’s death has overshadowed Bacall’s. She is a true legend.

  • Arden

    No it refers to a language family that includes Hebrew, though in common English usage it means “Jewish” unless the discussion is specifically about linguistics.

  • Lauren Markoe

    Thanks. I think both lives deserve much attention.

  • Lles Nats

    Thanks. Makes sense.

    So then the context anti-semitic, why does that generally relate to a people…or maybe even race?

  • It isn’t clear whether Bacall believed in a god.
    If she didn’t, she was an atheist.

    Religion for her seems to have been a tribal matter – a feeling of loyalty to one’s kin. And at times an unfortunate burden.

  • Larry

    was Bogey also Jewish?

  • Laura

    No, Larry. Why would he have them baptized?

  • larry

    the term “anti-Semitism” was invented in 19th century Europe to describe hatred of Jews, specifically. It has nothing to do with Semitic peoples (such as Arabs, for example) or Semitic languages; it relates specifically to Jews. “Jew Hatred” would be the correct term but it just sounded too harsh, so they used “Anti-Semitism” instead.

  • gilhcan

    Besides, what difference would it make?

  • Lles Nats

    Thanks larry.

  • Stephen Borkowski

    I wish there will be more articles like this one on Bacall being a wayto
    combat the rise in anti-semitism of late. Growing up in Greenpoint, Bklyn in the 30’s, I was told that jews were hated because they were Christ killers.The 2nd World War had result of diminishing that attitude so that by the turn of the century
    I had forgotten that anti semitism was alive in this country. I believe that it is due primarily to most people have learned that they and most of their neighbors know the differenc between Faith and empirical knowledge concerning their God..

  • The best way to stop anti-semitism is to spread secularism.
    Less belief in god correlates to less racist and prejudiced societies.

  • Lauren Bacall was an Atheist after all,

    “I gave up a belief in God,
    and nothing I have seen in the last thirty-seven years
    has changed my mind on that point.”
    -Lauren Bacall

  • Bob

    If Lauren Bacall was made to feel her Jewish name would not be acceptable to non Jews why did she also change Betty to Lauren? Lots of Hollywood actors changed their names. Were they also victims?

  • LM

    That quote is actually from her son.

  • Lauren Markoe

    Her producer thought Lauren sounded more glamorous than Betty. And yes, many Hollywood stars changed their names to sound more Americanized and less Jewish, Armenian, whatever they were.

  • Pesach Betzalel Fleischman

    I heard only today of her passing and as I am saying kaddish any way, and I don’t know if any one else is it’s my intention to complete the eleven months for her. If you could help me out with her hebrew name it would be much appreciated and a more successful kaddish.
    The Bogarts were neighbors with my aunt and uncle in Bel Aire and after my fathers’ passing on 1955, my mother, sister and I came out here at least for the summer. Sometimes our visits with my mother’s brother and his wife would coincide with those of their neighbors and sometimes we’d arrange it so.
    I’ll have to admit that I, even at fourteen, was not in awe of the “Hollywood movie community” but disappointed and even disdainful of our screen “idols” when they turned out to be a pretty shallow and materially directed society with the exception of a few and especially the Bogarts who were both earthy as well as seafarers and deep thinkers.
    I’ve always felt it a huge merit to have, at that time of life when my need was so great to have made a relationship with such amazing, beautiful people.
    Anyway, we should all, soon be reunited on this side of the grass. All the best and blessings for a good and sweet year. P B F

  • s. allen

    Lauren was her professional, never used by her friends. Her friends called
    her Betty [real name ] and she was “Baby” to Bogie.

  • s. allen

    Thank you for this comment.