Plucked off the cover of Harper's Bazaar in 1943, the girl born Betty Joan Perske quickly transformed from a self-described "frightened" daughter of Jewish immigrants into a sultry screen icon.
"I was so nervous," Bacall told PEOPLE in 2007 of making her film debut in 1944's To Have and Have Not, where she developed her signature gaze simply by "trying to hold my head still because I was shaking."
But with one memorable invitation to whistle, the then-19-year-old seduced both audiences and her leading man, Humphrey Bogart.
"The looks, the wit, that voice that could be warm or cut glass," says legendary talk show host Dick Cavett. "Bacall, for me, had it all."
During her six decades in the spotlight, the bold beauty seamlessly transitioned from model to movie star to a real-life love story so spellbinding that even today, "Bogie and Bacall" remains shorthand for grand romance.
At 89, the screen legend known as "Betty" to friends and family apparently suffered a fatal stroke on Aug. 12 in the New York City apartment she had called home for more than 50 years.
"Lauren was a dear friend, mentor and wonderful actress," says Nicole Kidman, who became close with Bacall on the set of 2003's Dogville.