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Lauren Bacall: 'The day I kidnapped a Hollywood icon' by former Western Daily Press reporter

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: August 14, 2014

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It reads like the sort of recklessness that could endanger the life of a young journalist – – a Western Daily Press reporter bundling a fuming Lauren Bacall into the back of a limousine, but all ended happily with the star eating Dover sole and reporter David Foot getting his story.

Yesterday Foot recalled his encounter with Bacall as tributes to the sultry-voiced film and stage actress, who has died, aged 89, poured in from around the world.

Bacall was in Bristol in 1979 to sign copies of her autobiography By Myself when the reporter made his dramatic move.

Mr Foot, a freelance journalist for most of his working life, had arranged with Bacall's agent to interview her at George's bookshop, which was at the top of Park Street, in Bristol.

Bacall did not like photographers, and had not taken kindly to half a dozen snapping her at the shop.

Foot arrived, lugging his big radio tape recorder, just as Bacall exited, in more than a huff, expecting to be driven back to London.

"It was one of the few occasions on which I showed journalistic enterprise," he recalled with typical modesty.

"She had come storming out and was in the back of the car with a young PR woman. I jumped in beside the driver and directed him to a small fish restaurant in Hotwells.

"She was spluttering and had no idea what was going on. She wanted to get back to London as soon as possible, and here was this person whom she had never seen before giving directions and taking over. The driver took us to the restaurant and she was still confused but followed us in.

"I got her a double gin which seemed to settle her, that was good psychologically, and I ordered a Dover sole for her.

"I just wanted to have a civilised conversation with her. She gradually calmed down and I got my interview. All told I suppose it lasted about an hour."

That initiative produced a strong radio interview, and an article for the Western Daily Press full of anecdotes.

The huge interest that Bacall's arrival in Bristol generated was understandable. In a year that saw Rocky II, The Amityville Horror and Star Trek the Motion Picture among top-grossing films Bacall was the living embodiment of a more glamorous Hollywood, and the alluring black and white world of film noir.

She became famous with her first movie scene, opposite Humphrey Bogart in 1944's To Have And Have Not. The willowy 19-year-old famously said: "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow."

She became his partner off-screen, they married in 1945 and remained together until his death in 1957.

Her films included How To Marry A Millionaire, The Mirror Has Two Faces, The Big Sleep and Designing Woman, but one of her biggest was with Bogart – Key Largo, in 1948.

She married actor Jason Robards in 1961, but they divorced in 1969.

Bacall won two Tony Awards, was nominated for an Academy Award and received an honorary Oscar in 2009. She appeared recently on an episode of the US animated sitcom Family Guy.

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