I wish the question were about the nicest celebrity because as a writer I’ve met a lot of endearing films and TV stars. But as soon as I saw the word rudest Lauren Bacall took the prize.
It was back in my advertising days. I was the young writer on a campaign for the brokerage firm, Paine Webber. There wasn’t much you could say about one company vs. another, so my art director and I developed a series of commercials where people — evidently prosperous and living well — would turn to the camera and say “Thank you, Paine Webber.”
It was an incredibly successful campaign, and it never promised a thing. Each spot had five or six vignettes featuring people who only said the line and went back to enjoying the good life. To keep it interesting, one of the vignettes was always an instantly recognizable star.
Enter Lauren Bacall.
We were shooting in an exquisite townhouse in Manhattan, and as soon as she walked in, she commanded the room. The director escorted her over to meet the creative team.
“Miss Bacall,” he said, when he got to me, “this is Marshall Karp, the writer.”
She took one look at me, and with that famously distinctive voice of authority, she said, “There are only four words. They gave you Paine Webber. What did you write — thank you?”
She turned and left me standing there, mouth open, thinking “I’ve just been trashed by Lauren Bacall. How cool is that? I can’t wait to tell everyone I know.”