“You know how to whistle, don’t you?” may be Lauren Bacall’s most famous line, but throughout her career—even in her film debut—she proved that she also knew how to put over a song, picking up two Tony Awards as Best Actress in a Musical along the way. In honor of her birthday, we select our favorite Bacall musical moments.
“Am I Blue” from To Have and Have Not
Crooning along with Hoagy Carmichael in her very first film, Bacall has already mastered The Look—head down, eyes up—that she uses to great effect on both Humphrey Bogart and the audience.
“And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine” from The Big Sleep
You can’t deny that when she sings, Bacall is having fun.
“But Alive” from Applause
Who can resist Bacall, in full diva mode, discovering that she’s worshipped in a Greenwich Village gay bar before launching into a dance that involves literally swinging from a chandelier? No wonder she won a Tony Award!
“Welcome to the Theatre” from Applause
A monologue worthy of Julia Sugarbaker on Designing Women and a cri de couer for all the people who can’t break away from the crazy business of show, “Welcome to the Theatre” is one of the great Act I finales.
“I Wrote the Book” from Woman of the Year
Her second musical, her second Tony Award—Bacall won over audiences as Tess Harding in the Kander and Ebb adaptation of the classic Hepburn-Tracy film. Here she is on a Wayne Newton special, singing one of the show’s best songs—and sticking the landing.
“Hearts Not Diamonds” from The Fan
If you haven’t seen Bacall as a stage star being terrorized by a crazed fan in this 1983 thriller—do yourself a favor and track it down immediately. It all climaxes with her opening night in a big Broadway musical, for which “Hearts Not Diamonds” serves as the 11 o’clock number. (FYI: The song was written by Marvin Hamlisch and Tim Rice.)
"The Saga of Lenny"
Dryly delivering freshly written lyrics (by Stephen Sondheim, no less) about Leonard Bernstein for his 70th birthday celebration, Bacall owned the stage—and the night—with little more than a cocked eyebrow and a certain inflection.