While at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Kirk met an actress called Betty Joan Perske – a.k.a. Lauren Bacall. She liked him tremendously, and they dated for a time but very casually. “Kirk did not really pursue me. He was friendly and sweet—enjoyed my company—but I was clearly too young for him,” Bacall wrote in her 1978 book By Myself and Then Some.
Meanwhile, Kirk was still broke at that point in his life. Bacall noted in her autobiography that he had been very poor, so much so that he had once stayed overnight in a jail cell purely to have somewhere to sleep. At one time, she gifted him her uncle’s coat, and he was “thrilled and grateful.” Kirk’s biggest dream, Bacall wrote, was to move his family to New York so that they could see him tread the boards.