Memories of Lauren Bacall

Memories of Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall in the 1940s

From left, Edward G Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, Lionel Barrymore and Lauren Bacall in Key Largo.

Lauren Bacall at the 69th annual Academy Awards, March 1997

Kathryn Rolfe

First published in Features
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AS a manager at upmarket lingerie firm Rigby & Peller, Kathryn Rolfe had served several famous customers at the company's flagship store opposite Harrods in Knightsbridge.

"I'd only been there for a few days when I had a fitting with Princess Michael of Kent. I also fitted Fern Britton, Brenda Blethyn and Cate Blanchett," says Kathryn, who now runs her own luxury lingerie shop on Swinegate in York.

But there's no doubt in her mind about her favourite customer: Hollywood legend, Lauren Bacall, who called in to do a spot of lingerie shopping while working in London about ten years ago.

She was in her 70s, but Kathryn remembers that she still had a great figure. Moreover, she was lovely, recalls Kathryn. She had arrived late in the day, because of heavy traffic in the capital, and was grateful to Kathyrn for keeping the shop open to accommodate her.

"She still had presence," says Kathryn. "She still had confidence; she had that comfort in her own skin so she didn't have to make a big deal about who she was."

Kathryn was particularly delighted to meet her because she had was a movie buff, had studied film studies at university and just two nights earlier had watched Key Largo – the 1948 classic starring Bacall alongside her future husband Humphrey Bogart and Edward G Robinson.

"While I was wrapping her purchases, I told her I was a fan and that I was a sucker for old films and had just watched Key Largo.

"She then started telling me about Edward G Robinson. He was short and fat and ugly, but she was saying that he was amazingly sexy and that she totally fell for him. After Bogey, she said, Edward G was a close second.

"She said it was amazing making that film and that the atmosphere they created in the movie was totally the same on the set."

Kathryn said the memories came flooding back this week at the announcement that Lauren had died following a massive stroke. She was 89.

Kathyrn said: "I was really sad when the I watched the news, she was one of the last true Hollywood film legends."

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