Lauren Bacall ‘Stalked’ Bette Davis — Here’s What Happened Next

Lauren Bacall is known as a classic Hollywood film star who encountered many other famous celebrities. Let’s take a look back at when Bacall first met another classic Hollywood legend – Bette Davis. Specifically, we’ll look at what happened when Bacall “stalked” Davis.

Lauren Bacall on a bed
Lauren Bacall | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Lauren Bacall’s dream

In her autobiography, By Myself and Then Some, Bacall says her dream was to be an actor in theatre. She describes the power of actors on the audience. “What followed depended on what was given by the actors – they could do almost anything, they could lead an audience anywhere, make them feel anything. The power of it – it was unforgettable.”

Bacall attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts where she could devote herself to  learning all there was about theatre. She says she was forever doing imitations of Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis for “anyone who would sit still for them.” Bacall refers to Davis as her “idol.”

What happened when Lauren Bacall ‘stalked’ Bette Davis

Bacall asked her Uncle Jack to arrange a meeting with Davis when the latter would be in New York. While waiting for a response to this request, Bacall and her friend, Betty Kalb, began to “stalk” the Gotham Hotel where Davis was staying.

Bette Davis on a chair
Bette Davis | Alfred Eisenstaedt/Pix Inc./The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

The “stalking” paid off – one afternoon, Davis came right through the lobby heading for the elevators. Bacall and Kalb headed there as well and rode to the 10th floor with Davis without speaking a word. The girls knew then they just “had to meet her, we’d die if we didn’t.” Finally, Uncle Jack came through and arrangements were made for a meeting. It was “the high point of my life, a dream come true!” At the time, Bacall was 15 years old.

Why Lauren Bacall ‘couldn’t speak’ when she met Bette Davis

Bacall describes the excitement as formidable. She says both herself and Kalb “were so caught up in thinking how to present ourselves – how to keep from falling apart until after the visit – that we couldn’t speak.” The pair made their way to Davis’ room and were seated in the living room. Soon, Davis walked out of the bedroom. “At last the door to the bedroom opened and out walked Bette Davis with that Bette Davis walk – Queen of Films – the best actress in the world. Oh, God!” Davis shook the girls’ hands. Bacall describes Davis as “open, direct, easy, and sympathetic.” Davis asked if the girls wanted tea. Bacall says she could not think of much to say – her mind went “blank.”

What Bette Davis said to Lauren Bacall

Bacall had relayed to Robin that she wanted to act and Davis had been given that information. Davis advised Bacall to work in summer stock as a way to learn about the field. Further, she advised Bacall, “Well, be sure it’s really what you want to do with your life. It’s hard work and it’s lonely.” Meeting Davis meant so much to Bacall. She stated, “No crown of diamonds placed on the head of a fairy princess by a handsome prince could mean as much.”

Who had more Oscars?

A trailer for Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Bacall clearly idolized Davis. This raises an interesting question – which actor garnered more acclaim at the Oscars? IMBd reports Bacall was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Mirror Has Two Faces. She also won an Academy Honorary Award, which is sometimes known as an “honorary Oscar.”

As for Davis, IMDb says she was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Of Human Bondage (a write-in nomination), Dark Victory, The Letter, The Little Foxes, Now, Voyager, Mr. Skeffington, All About Eve, The Star, and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. Davis won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for both Dangerous and Jezebel. Considering Davis’ cinematic recognition, its clear that Bacall had good reason to idolize her.