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May 12, 2023

Famous Photographs of Lauren Bacall Perched Atop a Piano Being Played by Vice President Harry S. Truman, 1945

Harry S. Truman had been Vice President of the United States for only a few weeks when he showed up on February 10, 1945, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. He had agreed to take part in a show for some 800 servicemen. For his part of the show, Truman sat down at an upright piano to demonstrate his talent at the keyboard.

Soon, he was joined by the popular 20-year-old actress Lauren Bacall, who was there as part of a Hollywood contingent taking part in the show. She perched herself atop the piano, Hollywood-style.

The crowd cheered. Cameras clicked away. The photos appeared everywhere. As for how the photographs came to be taken, the story goes, Ms. Bacall’s press agent, Charlie Enfield, who was also the publicity chief at her movie studio, Warner Bros., prompted her to pose with Truman.

“I was just a kid. My press agent made me do it,” Bacall said later of her Hollywood publicists.

The photo series took on additional fame when, a few months later, Bacall would marry Humphrey Bogart in one of Hollywood’s most famous couplings, and Truman would become President of the United States for nearly eight years. Truman and Bacall never performed together again.


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