Monday, November 5, 2012

Humphrey Bogart

Humphrey Bogart was a turn-of -the-century Christmas present for upper middle class parents, and Boggie often joed that he got jipped out of a good birthday present. He entered the world on December 25, 1899 but, in fact, he had more cause for complaint than that. His father, a Manhattan surgeon, and his bossy, artist mother were both critical and cold, and Bogart responded by setting up a veil of insolence to protect himself from them.

In long term that anti-authoritatian veneer became his screen stock in trade but it did not impress his parents. He continued to disappoint them, failing to pass the entrance examination for Yale University.
To escape their rage he joined the US Navy, where a scuffle with a prisoner he was escorting resulted in a wound to his upper lip that left him with the lopsided smile and inimitable lisp that even now, decades after his death, contribute to the charm of one of the world's most popular actors.
After an honorable discharge in 1918 and a spell as a runner for a Wall Street broker, Bogart took to the boards in a play called Drifting in 1922. The critics were not impressed, but his first line, "Tennis anyone?" set the tone for his early stage career as an upper crust, sophisticated juvenile lead.
To Bogart this establishment image was an anathema and he set about counteracting it with long drinks and short marriages. He formed a life-long bond with Scotch whisky which he drank heavily, and at times excessively, without ever letting it affect his work. "I don't trust any bastard who doesn't drink," was one of his creeds, and he repeated it often.
As for women, he found them at work. The first was Helen Menken, a former child star whom he met in Drifting and married when he was 25. As she was a sophisticated, intelligent woman of the theatrical world while he was a bit player. The marriage lasted less than one year, and approximately one year after the divorce he married another woman, Mary Philips. This time the marriage would last from 1928-1937.
Less than one year after his divorce from Mary he married Mayo Methot, and their marriage lasted from 1938-1945.
Bogart experienced some level of success on Broadway during the late 20s and this inspired him to take a crack at Hollywood. He failed to click in his first dozen films before getting his big break in 1935 when he played a gangster in The Petrified Forest.
He was given a contract at Warner Brothers and began giving James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, and George Raft a run for their money.
In te 1940s through perseverence and good luck, he began to get larger patrs, better scripts and good directors. He was seen in They Drive By Night, Maltese Falcon and High Sierra during this period and was now in the high ranks of Hollywood actors.
In 1943 Boggie played in Casablanca and received an Osar nomination. In 1944 he met Lauren bacall They were paired in To Have And Have Not and The Big Sleep. Bogie was in love and mrried Lauren, and went on to make the Sierra Madre and Key Largo, again with Bacall. He was still at the height of his career when he died in 1957.

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