Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Bow Before Lauren Bacall

I ran into Lauren Bacall once— in the mid '90s at the Kenneth Salon in the Waldorf Astoria (New York City of course).

Kenneth Battalle was the Sally Hershberger of his day, the Vidal Sassoon of the celebrity bouffant, Jackie O's favorite. His townhouse salon on East 54th Street was Haircut Central for Conde Nast, and Kenneth coiffed and cut for the editorial pages of Glamour for years.

Kenneth and a client

I admired a fellow train commuter's short haircut and had thus made my way to Kenneth's, now somewhat hidden in the basement of the Waldorf Astoria. The haircuts were expensive, and I didn't go for long. But one evening I had that "brush with greatness" as die-hard New Yorkers trying to be cool refer to celebrity sightings.

Lauren Bacall was paying for her services at the checkout desk. She was alone, a mature-looking lady wearing sensible shoes (a shock then not-so-much now) and a cloth coat. No air of entitlement, no look-at-me-don't-you-know-who-I-am. Just a nice "regular" in an easy chit-chat as she paid her bill and was on her way.

I've watched some of those early movies with Humphrey Bogart and totally see what the fuss was about. As her career evolved she could always be counted on to turn in a good job, often with accolades and Academy Award nominations. She lit up those old black and white movies, that's for sure and by all accounts was a classy lady.

That's the one I saw in Kenneth's.

Lauren Bacall 1924-2014

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