President Barack Obama, whose opinions on entertainment are eagerly awaited by all Americans, has shocked the entertainment industry by ignoring the death of legendary Hollywood actress, and lifelong Democrat, Lauren Bacall.
Bacall, a movie legend whose career included work with filmmakers ranging from Howard Hawks to Douglas Sirk to Lars von Trier, died Tuesday, leaving behind a legacy that included many classic films, a youthful marriage (and early widowhood) to Humphrey Bogart, and a lifetime of activism for liberal causes. Bacall joined protests against the House Un-American Activities Committee, campaigned for two-time failed presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson in the 1950s, and identified herself as “anti-Republican . . . a liberal” in a 2005 Larry King interview.
Yet Bacall’s loyalty to the president’s party has not earned any recognition from the pop-culture-saturated commander-in-chief. Obama has spent much of his time in office taking selfies with cultural notables; giving his opinions on Downton Abbey, Orange Is the New Black, Mad Men, and many other popular television shows; texting with Jay-Z; and gracing the nation with his opinion of Kanye West’s interruption of Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Obama rarely leaves America in the dark about his media diet and pop-culture opinions.
Inconveniently, Obama’s pop connoisseurship is occasionally interrupted by details of national and global politics: Russia is on the verge of invading Ukraine; an area of Iraq the size of Belgium is under the control of a mass-murdering Sunni Islamist terror group; and the United States remains stuck in the longest period of economic stagnation since the Great Depression. But Obama has until now found ways to soldier through, most recently taking time during his Martha’s Vineyard vacation to issue a statement on the death of hirsute funnyman Robin Williams.
The cause of Obama’s Bacall snub is not known. It is possible that he is preparing to hug it out with his former secretary of state Hillary Clinton on the Vineyard tonight. The president may also share the view, held by a large minority of American men, that Martha Vickers, who played Bacall’s slutty younger sister in Hawks’s 1946 adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, was the real hot one.
The White House did not respond to phone and e-mail requests for comment.