MEMOIR: When I slept with Lauren Bacall (in adjoining baby carriages)
My mother always claimed that she pushed baby carriages with Lauren Bacall's mother in Central Park when both our families lived in tenement apartments on 107th Street in East Harlem during the mid-1920s. That was probably the closest my mother ever came to enjoying personal contact with a future or an already-established celebrity.
Like me, Lauren (or Betty, which is her real first name) was an only child. My mother remembered that she was two months older than me. Considering the proximity of our respective baby carriages, I can safely assume that at one time or another we were both sleeping at the same time. So there is some validity to my boast of intimacy with a famous movie star.
When we were both about three years old, my family moved to the Bronx and Bacall's family moved to Brooklyn. I never saw her again except, of course, on the movie screen. Although here I am writing about her in my memoir, I do not appear in Bacall's autobiography.
My mother remembered the future movie star's family name as Perske. My mother's recollection was confirmed several years ago when I read the Jerusalem Post's report on the actress' visit to Israel. The paper revealed that, on being introduced to Shimon Peres, then the country's prime minister, the two happily discovered that they shared Perske as their original surnames. It was not noted whether they were able to establish any direct family connection.
My mother apparently kept in touch for a couple of years with Bacall's mother, who was named Natalie, for she recalled that Bacall's parents divorced when Lauren was about five years old. My mother also remembered that Natalie quickly resumed using her maiden name, Weinstein, and that the Romanian-born Natalie later legally changed Weinstein into Bacall. The latter means "winecup" in her native country's language. I learned this linguistic tidbit from the New York Times, which also pointed out that "Weinstein," a common Jewish family name, means "winecup" in German. Lauren also began to use her mother's new surname and was permanently estranged from her father.
I doubt very much that Lauren Bacall ever disclosed her early intimacy with me to her two husbands, Humphrey Bogart and Jason Robards. But she is no doubt unaware that she ever had such a personal relationship with me.