Tuesday, December 5, 2023

December Star of the Month: Humphrey Bogart



BIRTH: December 25, 1899

DEATH: January 14, 1957

AGED: 57

DIED FROM: Esophageal Cancer


MARRIED: 4 times. The 3rd to Mayo Methot and last to Lauren Bacall

AFFAIRS: Lauren Bacall and, apparently, his wig maker, Verita Peterson

CHILDREN: 2, with Bacall- Stephen named after his role in To Have and Have Not.  Their daughter was named after Leslie Howard (Leslie Howard Bogart), the famous actor who made sure Bogart secured his stage role in the film role of The Petrified Forest.

OSCAR WINS: The African Queen-1951

OSCAR NOMINATIONS: Casablanca-1943, The Caine Mutiny-1954

TALENT:  He flunked out at school due to disinterest but he was an avid reader and could recite over a 1,000 passages from Shakespeare. He dreamed of being in a Shakespearean play but knew people would never see past his on screen persona

KNOWN FOR:  His lisp which has been attributed to a childhood accident, some run in with a door to his time in WW1. Apparently, his son has the same type of impediment. He loved drinking and loved the sea on his own boat called The Santana.

Bogie is arguably considered the greatest actor and he would be considered in the top 5 best actors ever. He didn’t grow up poor but came from a comfortable home and just gravitated to acting. He could be very sensitive and could often cry but could also be a real jerk on occasion, just ask William Holden and Audrey Hepburn whom he derided when he played opposite them in Sabrina. He became famous on Broadway as Duke Mantee the nasty killer from The Petrified Forest and was going to passed over by the studio until Leslie Howard stood up for him. Due to that, he got into films but made some not so great movies like, “The Return of Dr. X” a horror movie that I must see one day. He became famous after making High Sierra and became a romantic lead with Casablanca. During this time, he was married to Mayo Methot who was a jealous nutbar who once tried to kill him. They loved feverishly but battled so furiously they were known as the Battling Bogarts. When he Made To Have and Have Not, he didn’t expect to fall in love with Lauren Bacall who was only 19 but he did and she returned the emotion. A few days after he got his divorce from the nut, he married Bacall. They had a great love for each other although his wig maker claimed he had an ongoing affair with her…whatever…I think Bogart and Bacall  truly loved one another.  When he got sick, he started a club with Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and her Husband Sid Luft etc… after one night of drinking, Bacall woke up to see them sprawled around and called them one sorry looking rat pack and the name stuck. Yes, Bogart was the starting member of that famous rat pack. He made a great many films that I am not mentioning all here but are worth checking out. He died too young…


1. The Petrified Forest-1936

2. High Sierra-1940

3. The Maltese Falcon-1941

4. Casablanca- 1942

5. To Have And Have Not-1944

6. The Big Sleep-1946

7. Treasure of the Sierra Madre-1948

8. Key Largo-1948

9. In A Lonely Place-1950

10. The African Queen-1951

11. The Caine Mutiny-1954

12. Sabrina-1954

13. The Barefoot Contessa- 1954


  1. I did not know he was born on Christmas.

  2. Interesting history, some of which I didn't know about, like his middle class upbringing. Bogie and Bacall - such a great love story!

  3. "A hotdog at the ballpark beats roast beef at the Ritz." That's always stuck with me.

  4. Casablanca is the greatest. Don’t want to believe that he was cheating on Bacall!

  5. Excellent choice for the month! A very fine actor capable of more than he was usually allowed to exhibit, but that is true of most great actors.

    Greatest actor/actress is such a subjective concept, but I agree he was one of the best. He's right up there with John Garfield, another actor who found great depth in ordinary roles and who made complex ones extraordinary.

    I have seen almost all of Bogie's work. The two I have left "A Devil with Women" (1930) and 1931's "Body and Soul" are nearly impossible to find. MoMa has a copy of "Body & Soul" (which costars Myrna Loy-the only film of hers I'm missing) but "Devil" is apparently one step from lost which is a sad state of affairs.

    I know his romantic life was a checkered one with his temper doing him no favors in his first two marriages and his wildly mismatched (or too well matched temperamentally) union with the troubled Mayo Methot (a fine actress in her own right until her drinking ruined her career) causing no end of trouble for both. However, he seemed genuinely happy with Betty Bacall and I find tales of his straying, which have only surfaced all these years on, hard to credit.

    Once he finally emerged from his long apprenticeship, which might have been longer than necessary because of his scrappy intransigence and refusal of many roles though he was forced into others, he displayed a keen script sense which helped keep him on top. He was hardly alone in that fighting spirit at Warners though, the studio seemed to gravitate to signing performers (Bette Davis, Ida Lupino, John Garfield, Jimmy Cagney, Ann Sheridan and Olivia de Havilland of course) who were infamous for battling the front office over material.

    Anyway, even though his top work came after his breakthrough many of his early films (The Roaring Twenties, They Drive by Night, Angels with Dirty Faces) are classics.

    My top ten of his films in order run in this order:

    In a Lonely Place-A dark masterpiece
    The Maltese Falcon
    High Sierra
    We're No Angels-An absolute delight!
    The Desperate Hours
    The Petrified Forest
    The Caine Mutiny
    Dark Passage
    The Treasure of Sierra Madre

    His worst is undoubtedly "The Return of Doctor X" which he was forced into as a punishment for complaining about the scripts offered though he felt "Swing Your Lady" was the nadir of his career. It's close but it has some competition.

    One part that he hated though he loved the film was his role as the stable hand Michael in "Dark Victory". Again, the studio forced him to do it even though he was unsuitable (crazy since they had an array of men who would have fit the part under contract, most notably Patric Knowles) and he always spoke disparagingly of his work in it feeling it was a blotch on a thing of beauty.

  6. Hi Birgit - interesting info on Bogart - and yes I do enjoy his films ... cheers Hilary