In the mid to late-nineties, I went through a phase where I read anything and everything about the Rat Pack, official biographies, unofficial biographies, books by the children of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.
All the books shared a common story. The story of how the Rat Pack wasn’t originally Frank Sinatra and the boys. The original Rat Pack was Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh and some of their friends. Frank Sinatra eventually got in with the crew and over time it became his. They stated that Sinatra became, somewhat, obsessed with trying to be Bogart, even proposing to Bacall when Bogie passed away.
In Bogart’s later years he was stricken with cancer and slowly was unable to climb the stairs in their home (his and Bacall’s) and unable to walk or dress himself.
So in order to make Bogie feel like a king amongst his peers, once a week Bacall would let the nurses have the day off and she would invite all his “buddies” to come over, Sinatra, Mr. and Mrs. Tony Curtis and anyone else in the inner Bogie circle. Bacall would shower him, shave him, tie his tie and dress him. And then carry him to the dumbwaiter outside their bedroom; lower him to the first floor. She’d go down the stairs, carry him to the couch, light a cigarette for him and have his favorite cocktail on the table next to him. Then over the next twenty minutes or so everyone would start showing up. No one knew that he was a month or so from passing away.
What I loved about this story was how much Bacall was willing to do to make Bogie feel like a man and help him retain his dignity. Every man wishes for someone like this in their corner. Rest in Peace Ms. Bacall.