On Tuesday evening, news broke that one of the last grande dames of Hollywood’s golden age, 89-year-old actress Lauren Bacall, had died. Twitter immediately rolled out the red carpet of 140-character remembrances, one of which stood out for a few reasons:
So so sad about the death of Betty Bacall. I almost lost Ben to her, the only acceptable person. As he would say,she was a spectacular dame
— Sally Quinn (@sallyquinndc) August 13, 2014
Okay, we have questions.
So is Sally Quinn, longtime columnist at The Washington Post and wife of former executive editor Ben Bradlee, telling us that there was a time when she and “Betty” battled over “Ben”? Lauren Bacall? The same woman that Quinn wrote a front page Style profile on in 1975? Ben Bradlee? The same man Bacall’s ex-husband, actor Jason Robards, portrayed in the 1976 Watergate film “All the President’s Men”?
Quinn, who married Bradlee in 1978, declined to elaborate on her tweet. She says she has been inundated with interview requests and has house guests. So it’s up to the collective imagination of the social media set to sketch the lines of this alleged love triangle.
But Bacall’s own words could provide a few clues.
Speaking to Quinn from a hotel room at the Watergate in 1975, Bacall said she didn’t see herself as “a great man killer. But a lot of men think I’m formidable.” Bacall also told Quinn that despite her screen siren image, the actress didn’t think she was more sure of herself than other women. She did, however, value her independence.
“I like living alone,” said Bacall. “I’m not looking for a husband and I don’t think I want to get married again.”
Bacall admitted that actor Humphrey Bogart, who she married at 20 (he was 45), was a near impossible act to follow.
“The quality of the male,” said Bacall, “has definitely deteriorated.”
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