A little over a week after screen icon Lauren Bacall passed away, her former co-star, Kirk Douglas, is paying tribute to the woman he fondly remembers as “Betty.”
“I met [her] when she was 17 and I was 24,” Kirk writes. “We were both studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I was on my own in New York with meager funds.”
He recalled a time Lauren saw him shivering in a thin overcoat. “She didn’t say anything, but she talked her uncle into giving me one of his two thick coats. I wore it for three years,” Kirk shared, adding, “That sort of unassuming kindness was one of her most endearing characteristics.”
The actor also credits the beauty with helping launch his Hollywood career. After he returned from serving in World War II, Lauren convinced producer Hal Wallis to see Kirk in the play, “The Wind is Ninety.”
The pair later starred together in 1950’s Young Man with a Horn and maintained their friendship throughout the years. Kirk said he knew something was wrong when Lauren failed to answer a recent letter.
“My latest note wasn’t answered, which was unlike her. I wondered why. Then, on Aug. 12, like the rest of the world, I found out,” he said.
“It’s hard to lose a friend, especially one with whom you have shared your dreams and your journey,” Kirk wrote. “In the case of Betty Bacall, I also lost my lucky charm — the girl who believed in me enough to talk Hal Wallis into giving me a Hollywood career.”
He continued, “That was my first lesson in helping others without looking for thanks. I will continue to think about her whenever I put it into practice.”
Kirk published his tribute in The Hollywood Reporter.