Through the years I have been privileged to meet people who have accomplished greatness in life. I am always in awe of them and remember a time I met a woman, who had a history greater than life.
I was on a flight to Atlanta and was upgraded to business class by the airline. We were about half an hour from take-off when a flight attendant came up to me and asked if I was a movie star. I looked puzzled and simply said, “I wish.”
She replied that she must have the wrong seat, and I continued reading the newspaper. The window seat beside me was empty, until a few minutes before take-off, when a woman, who looked vaguely familiar, stepped in front of me, apologized and sat down. She was carrying a rather large handbag, which she promptly put under the seat.
I couldn’t really see her face, as she was sitting beside me and I did not want to be rude. Directly after take-off, the flight attendant brought a bowl of water and placed it on the small table of the armrest between our seats. I assumed it was a finger bowl, and you can imagine my surprise when she reached in her hand bag and brought out a small, Yorkshire terrier. I was stunned, but all I could do was smile.
The dog lapped up the water as I stared in surprise. The woman then asked if I could hold her dog for a minute while she rummaged through her purse for, what turned out to be a doggy treat. “Of course,” I said, and proceeded to introduce myself (hoping she would do the same and solve my curiosity).
“Nice to meet you,” she said. “I’m Lauren Bacall.” I was in shock. Here, sitting next to me, was one of the greatest movie stars Hollywood had ever produced, and I was holding her dog. I turned to take a close look, and it certainly was her. All I could do was ask what it was like to have been married to Humphrey Bogart? She said he was great, until he hooked up with that b*tch, Katherine Hepburn, and for the next 20 minutes berated another of Hollywood’s greatest stars.
I asked what she was doing in Toronto, and she explained she had just finished filming a new movie. “I am pretty much retired, “she said. “But I have a new house in Atlanta, and I need to furnish it.” We laughed and it broke the ice. I saw her as a person, rather than a pedestalled film star, and she spoke candidly about her life.
We landed and I offered to carry her ‘doggy’ bag (with the dog in it). We had cleared customs in Toronto so I walked with her to the gate where she was met by someone. She introduced me and we said goodbye, and I was still amazed as I shook the hand of Lauren Bacall.