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Bacall: Starting at the Top and Staying There: she, 30 other stars shine on TCM in August

Lauren Bacall was never a starlet.

Her first time out, she co-starred with Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not, which was based on a novel by Ernest Hemingway, written by William Faulkner and directed by Howard Hawks.

Bogart, Hemingway, Faulkner and Hawks…it’d be hard to fund faster company than that, but the 20-year old student from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, with only a few small roles on Broadway on her resume, more than held her own.

With the release of the film in 1944, she became a star and, 60 years later, she’s still a star and still working, with four films coming out this year, but is still, in her word, “insecure.’

Bacall was, and is, strikingly beautiful. She’s also smart, honest and funny, as she demonstrates in an new hour-long interview, Private Screenings, with Robert Osborne that will debut on Monday, August 1, on Turner Classic Movies (channel 157, 5 and 8 p.m.), to kick off TCM’s month-long Summer Under the Stars festival, during which each day will be devoted to the films of one star.

10 of her films and a second documentary, Bacall on Bogart, will also be shown Monday.

As virtually everyone knows, Bacall married Bogart. They made three more pictures together, had two children and lived happily ever after – until his death from lung cancer in 1957. She was married once more, to Jason Robards, Jr., had a third child, returned to Broadway to star in Goodbye, Charlie, which flopped, The Cactus Flower, which was a hit, and two boffo musicals, Applause, derived from All About Eve, for which she won a Tony, and Woman of the Year, from the Hepburn-Tracy classic, for which she won a second Tony.

She is a woman of parts. She wrote her own memoirs, By Myself and By Myself…And Then Some – by herself,, unassisted, was one of the few people in Hollywood to publicly castigate the witch hunts of the 1950s, was great friends with two-time Democratic Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, won a Golden Globe, a SAG award and an Oscar nomination for her performance in The Mirror Has Two Faces in 1998, and is on the short list of movie stars who have been awarded Kennedy Center Honors.

Like her longtime friend, Katharine Hepburn, Bacall was born with great bones, unvarnished beauty, brains and talent, has a sense of humor, had one great love, has extraordinary staying power, is still sassy and outspoken at 81, and is a class act all the way.

As is TCM. It’s the best channel on TV – screening classic films – uncut, unmessed with – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Having TCM on the box is like having an extraordinary film archive in your house.

You can’t beat it…and no one’s even trying. And August – major stars, major films every day – should be particularly choice.31 days. 31 stars. 401 movies. Who could ask for anything more?

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