Stargazing

When Harry met Lauren

Lauren Bacall and Harry Truman
Lauren Bacall and Harry Truman

The passing of Lauren Bacall on Tuesday at 89 brought to mind one of the most iconic political photographs of all time.

And this one involved our own Harry Truman.

On Feb. 10, 1945, then-Vice President Truman was taking part in a stage show for servicemen at the National Press Club canteen. While he was playing piano for an audience of about 800 men in uniform, Bacall, who was part of the entertainment, was boosted atop the upright piano.

Bacall posed fetchingly as the vice president played a tune. The crowd cheered. Flashbulbs popped.

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

A quick Google image search turns up any number of poses. In other words, ol’ Harry apparently was very cooperative. In the photos, he appeared to be having a good time.

The photos appeared all over the world. But back home, Bess Truman was none too happy. In fact, she was furious, David McCullough wrote in his best-selling biography of Truman.

“She told him he should play the piano in public no more,” he wrote.

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