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Monday, 30 March 2009

When I Slept with Lauren Bacall (in adjoining baby carriages)

By Mort Reichek of Octogenarian

My mother always claimed that she pushed baby carriages with Lauren Bacall's mother in Central Park when both our families lived in tenement apartments on 107th Street in East Harlem during the mid-1920s. That was probably the closest my mother ever came to enjoying personal contact with a future or an already-established celebrity.

Like me, Lauren (or Betty, which is her real first name) was an only child. My mother remembered that she was two months older than me. Considering the proximity of our respective baby carriages, I can safely assume that at one time or another we were both sleeping at the same time. So there is some validity to my boast of intimacy with a famous movie star.

When we were both about three years old, my family moved to the Bronx and Bacall's family moved to Brooklyn. I never saw her again except, of course, on the movie screen. Although here I am writing about her in my memoir, I do not appear in Bacall's autobiography.

My mother remembered the future movie star's family name as Perske. My mother's recollection was confirmed several years ago when I read the Jerusalem Post's report on the actress' visit to Israel. The paper revealed that, on being introduced to Shimon Peres, then the country's prime minister, the two happily discovered that they shared Perske as their original surnames. It was not noted whether they were able to establish any direct family connection.

My mother apparently kept in touch for a couple of years with Bacall's mother, who was named Natalie, for she recalled that Bacall's parents divorced when Lauren was about five years old. My mother also remembered that Natalie quickly resumed using her maiden name, Weinstein, and that the Romanian-born Natalie later legally changed Weinstein into Bacall. The latter means "winecup" in her native country's language.

I learned this linguistic tidbit from The New York Times, which also pointed out that Weinstein, a common Jewish family name, means "winecup" in German. Lauren also began to use her mother's new surname and was permanently estranged from her father.

I doubt very much that Lauren Bacall ever disclosed her early intimacy with me to her two husbands, Humphrey Bogart and Jason Robards. But she is no doubt unaware that she ever had such a personal relationship with me.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: The supply of stories is running low, so if you've had one on your mind to write, now is the time. All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

My husband is the one with all the 'star' dust. He once worked in a bowling alley as a pin setter, where Pat O'Brian once tossed him a nickle and said, "Thanks Kid" after bowling a game or two.
Said hubby's mother once spilled peas on Will Rodgers when she worked as a waitress.
But to sleep with Lauren Bacall...Wow!

Say, did you hear anything like this coming from the other baby carriage?

"You do know how to whistle don't you, Mort? Just pucker up your lips and blow."

Lauren Bacall--How thrilling!

Great story...Thanks....

Mort - After reading your title, I hesitated to go further. I was frightened that what was to follow would be a gigantic let down from the image you had implanted in me.

I could not have been more wrong. This got better and better, and funnier and funnier, as I read on and on!

Wonderfully written. Thanks

Sandy

Just wonderful, sorry I missed it when originally published..in my family, growing up midtown/west side Manhattan since the late l800s, biggest brag was my Mother's cousin, Anne Donnelly had danced many times with George Raft at the numerous dance clubs around Broadway..made watching him in the movies so personal...thanks for reviving that memory..again, sorry to have missed your writings..

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