More Proof That Lauren Bacall Can Be Deeply Unpleasant


I’ve always admired Lauren Bacall–from a distance.

Because truth be told, I’m a little bit afraid a huh.

Enter David Rothenberg, who produced Fortune and Men’s Eyes, among other plays, and who also formed the Fortune Society, an advocacy and service organization for the formerly incarcerated.

In his imminent memoir Fortune In My Eyes, Rothenberg writes about his diverse experiences, including his lifelong dealing with various great divas.

And it turns out one of his least favorites was Lauren Bacall.

He worked with the grand diva in the 1999 Alexander Cohen-produced revival of Noel Coward’s Waiting in the Wings, about a group of retired actresses living in a nursing home.

Writes Rothenberg:

“The luminous Rosemary Harris was chosen as one of the leading women, but a marquee name was essential for the play to succeed…

Lauren Bacall agreed to do it.

“Like Bette Davis and Peggy Lee, she arrived with an avalanche of warnings from people in the business.

“She was a tough cookie, one guy told me.

“I wasn’t concerned. I was familiar with divas. They all just needed a professional team and they’d be fine.

“Bacall proved to be the exception. She baffled me. She had lived a charmed life but was angry at everyone…

“I never understood from where the bitterness and meanness emanated.

“Everyone walked on eggshells around her.

“I told Alex that when Waiting in the Wings drew its final curtain, so would I.

“He and I both said that working with Lauren Bacall would be sufficient reason for anyone to retire.”

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 24, 2012

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