March on Washington: Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart lead a contingent of actors, writers and directors from Hollywood to a hearing of the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947
Lauren Bacall, who died yesterday just a month shy of her 90th birthday, will rightly be remembered for her A-list acting career and her marriage to movie legend Humphrey Bogart. But Bacall also had a record as a stalwart liberal. As she put it, “I’m a total Democrat. I’m anti-Republican.”
“Being a liberal is the best thing on earth you can be. You are welcoming to everyone when you’re a liberal. You do not have a small mind.”
– Lauren Bacall
Her performance with Bogart in “To Have and Have Not” catapulted her to stardom overnight in 1944. A few months after the film came out, she made her political debut at an event for World War II service members in Washington, D.C., when she was boosted atop an upright piano and photographed lounging there as then-Vice Pres. Harry Truman played for the crowd.
After the war, Bacall, Bogart, director John Huston and others formed the Committee for the First Amendment in opposition to the Republican Party’s anti-communist witch hunts, which were championed by Hollywood figures like Ronald Reagan, Walt Disney and Hollywood Reporter publisher Billy Wilkerson. In 1947, Bacall and Bogart led a contingent of the organization’s members to Washington in protest of the right-wing pogrom and in support of Hollywood witnesses called by the committee who had refused to testify.
That was just the beginning of Lauren Bacall’s decades-long political activity and support for the Democratic Party. Michael Tomasky pays tribute to Bacall as “deeply liberal and deeply anti-communist” in a eulogy at the Daily Beast:
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