The world lost two entertainment icons this week: on Sunday, Robin Williams, and yesterday, Lauren Bacall.
If the phrase "beauty and style icon" were in the dictionary for some strange reason, a photo of Bacall in the 1940s would be next to it. She was strikingly beautiful in an impossibly sophisticated way, even next to her 25-years-older costar and husband, Humphrey Bogart.
Their relationship was as iconic as they were as individuals, and it regularly turned them into a pop-culture reference. In fact, since news of Bacall's passing, I haven't been able to get Bertie Higgins's "Key Largo" out of my head.
The song that popped in my friend Beth's head, however, was Madonna's "Vogue." And that's when she made a knock-the-wind-out-of-me observation that I thusly tweeted about immediately after:
As you can see from the number of retweets, Beth's realization hit a lot of other people right in the kishkes, too.
For so many people in my generation, "Vogue" was the first time we took notice of many of those names. It was released a month before I turned 11, and other than Marilyn Monroe, I probably hadn't even heard of most of the legends mentioned, who are listed in the lyrics as follows:
Greta Garbo, and [Marilyn] Monroe. [Marlene] Dietrich, and [Joe] DiMaggio. Marlon Brando. Jimmy [James] Dean, on the cover of a magazine. Grace Kelly. Harlow, Jean. Picture of a beauty queen. Gene Kelly. Fred Astaire. Ginger Rogers, dance on air. They had style, they had grace. Rita Hayworth gave good face. Lauren, Katharine, Lana, too. Bette Davis, we love you.
"Lauren" was Lauren Bacall, and while she's not the last of that Hollywood era to pass, her death represents a kind of closure to how so many of us perceived and were introduced to that era, thanks to that also-iconic song.