Lauren Bacall Discusses Being Jewish and Baptizing Children Into Christian Church Before Death

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By Sami K. Martin , Christian Post Reporter
August 14, 2014|2:17 pm
Lauren Bacall (Photo: Reuters/©A.M.P.A.S./Handout )

Actress Lauren Bacall accepts her Honorary Oscar during the 2009 Governors Awards at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences 2009 Governors Awards in Hollywood, California November 14, 2009. Hollywood veterans turned out in force to see Lauren Bacall, grand dame of film noir, receive an honorary Oscar at the motion picture academy's Governors Awards on Saturday night, away from TV cameras. Photo taken November 14, 2009.

Actress Lauren Bacall died on Tuesday, but before her death, she spoke about her Jewish upbringing and marriage to Humphrey Bogart, a Christian.

Bacall was born to a Jewish family but changed her name in order to fit into the Hollywood culture. It was a decision that she did not regret; other than that, she made no effort to hide her roots. She wrote her autobiography By Myself, in which she said she "felt totally Jewish and always would."

"I resented the discussion – and I resented being Jewish, being singled out because I was, and being some sort of freak because I didn't look it," Bacall wrote.

She married Bogart in 1945, and the two became an instant Hollywood power couple. They starred together in "The Big Sleep," "Dark Passage," and "Key Largo." Marriage was important to Bacall and she wanted to give it everything she had, even if it meant sacrificing her career.

"I was so blinded by Bogie I couldn't think of anything else," she told the Associated Press in 1999. "All I thought of was being with him. He didn't ask me not to be an actress. But he said he had been married to three actresses and their careers always came first. If I wanted a career that badly, OK, he would help me as much as he could, but he wouldn't marry me. I had to promise to put our life together first. That's what I did."

The couple had two children, Stephen and Leslie, and had them Christened in a Christian church.

"Bogie's feeling was that the main reason for having the children christened was that, with discrimination still rampant in the world, it would give them one less hurdle to jump in life's Olympics. I, with my family-ingrained Jewish background, bucked it – it felt too strange to me. True, I didn't go to synagogue, but I felt totally Jewish and always would. I certainly didn't intend to convert to Episcopalianism for the children, or to deny my own heritage. At the same time I knew how important it could be to a child to have a religious identity," Bacall explained.

Later on, son Stephen would write, "Neither of my parents had any strong belief in God, but like many parents, they sent their children to Sunday school, out of a vague sense that religion was a good thing for a kid."

Bogart passed away in 1957, and Bacall on Tuesday.

 

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