It’s shameful that the media is paying so much more attention to Robin Williams’ suicide than the death of the Lauren Bacall. It is a sad marker of American culture that all news outlets have devoted nearly 48 hours to the discussion and exaltation of a comedian who became famous for sweaty, cocaine-fueled ramblings while wearing rainbow suspenders, Hawaiian shirts and khakis while it was Catherine Baba’s Instagram that informed me of Bacall’s passing. Williams’ portrayal of the genie in Aladdin was disturbingly homophobic, his menagerie of “funny” voices was creepy. His signature maniacal, rapid-fire shifts from one persona into another during performance was hardly a “gift for improvisation”. It was druggie, it reeked of mental illness and eventually read as gimmicky and formulaic. I suppose if one could think of the flawlessly executed prestidigitation of a seasoned side-show charlatan as genius, one could call Robin Williams’ career “genius” as well.
Lauren Bacall, along with Tallulah Bankhead and Greta Garbo have forever galvanized the simple gesture of smoking a cigarette as an ultra-chic self-proclamation of sophistication, quiet rebellion and existential ennui. Being forced to pit this iconoclast against the perspired mess that was Williams is an unfortunate manipulation of the E! Channel. But, penultimately, Lauren Bacall’s invaluable contribution to the foundation of early American cinema, the legacy of Old Hollywood, an indefatigable influence on fashion and an indelible female archetype of the 20th. Century will eclipse Robin Williams as only a true star can.
Aftermath of a Code Crimson at my hospital the other night. My friend works in the ER and took this photo and sent me the following:
“Car rolled three times, became on fire. Transported to us for intubation then supposed to be transferred to [higher acuity hospital omitted for HIPPA reasons] but then she coded. She was a mess. Blood everywhere. Bones sticking out of the skin. Adipose tissue out. Depressed frontal skull fracture. Mid forties. She died.”