Lauren Bacall [née Betty Joan Perske] was born in Brooklyn to a Jewish family, but her Jewish-sounding name just wouldn’t cut it in the Hollywood of the 1940s and ’50s. She changed it to a version of her mother’s family name, Weinstein-Bacal.
Bacall’s decision on her children’s baptism was unusual, according to NYU historian Hasia Diner, but indicative of her and husband Humphrey Bogart’s calculus that “being Jewish was too much of a liability in an environment in which one had to walk that tightrope” between being Jewish in private and appearing otherwise in public.
This obituary tells more.
She also expressed impatience, especially in her later years, with the public’s continuing fascination with her romance with Bogart, even though she frequently said that their 12-year marriage was the happiest period of her life.
“I think I’ve damn well earned the right to be judged on my own,” she said in a 1970 interview with The New York Times.“It’s time I was allowed a life of my own, to be judged and thought of as a person, as me.”
From “Lauren Bacall, Sultry Movie Star, Dies at 89,” The New York Times, August 12, 2014.