As with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, I had not really been aware that Williams was dealing with depression and addiction. So on Monday night it was a genuine surprise when my husband Jerry gasped as he was reading New York Times headlines on his I phone as I was driving and I said "What's the matter?" "Robin Williams died," he replied, "they think it was suicide." I had seen Williams live on two occasions, in the Broadway play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo in which he embodied the ferocious title animal in Rajiv Joseph's bizarre dreamscape of a play, and performing stand-up on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera for an HBO special. He performed for about 90 minutes without a break and was amazing. Friends I'd met on the Long Island beach that morning had an extra ticket and I gladly took it. I arrived on time, sandy and sunburnt, while they were all late (Williams called attention to their tardiness.)
Smith commented that Williams was cowardly for allowing his depression to drive him to death and not to consider the feelings of his children. Never mind that depression is an illness. The reaction to Smith's insensitivity was swift and immediate with many tweets and comments labeling the newsman hypocritical for daring to call anyone else a coward when he is a closet case on a reactionary, traditionally anti-gay news machine. I'm tired of people saying it's his own private business as if being gay were a deep dark secret to be hidden from the light of day. These days public people like Smith have very little to fear from being open about their sexuality (maybe a couple of Fox viewers will stop watching him, but not that many) and should not hide it. As far as I know he has NEVER publicly acknowledged his being gay and that's cowardly. He has since apologized for his insensitive remarks, but still no word on coming out.
I later encountered Bacall in person a few times as president of the Drama Desk. She came to the pre-party of the DD Awards when she was in Waiting in the Wings and her co-stars Barnard Hughes and Helen Stenborg were being honored. She was polite and somewhat caustic, commenting the event was "so well organized" with just a hint of sarcasm because things were a little rushed. I was also present when she presented at the Outer Critics Circle Awards at Sardi's. She was giving the Best Actor Award to Anthony LaPaglia for A View from the Bridge. He thanked her and told the crowd of theater people how honored he was to have her present his citation. "That's Lauren Bacall," he said with astonishment. "What's left of her," she dryly replied.
Everyone is listing their favorite Bacall films, but I will never forget her smoky insolence in To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep, befuddled adoration of Gregory Peck in Designing Women, brittle, comic vulnerability in How to Marry a Millionaire, and haughty condescension in Murder on the Orient Express.