Humphrey DeForest Bogart (December 25, 1899 – January 14, 1957 He is an actor that generations of viewers of all ages know who he is. The American Film Institute ranked Bogart as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema.
Bogart began acting in 1921 and became a regular in Broadway productions in the 1920s and 1930s. When the stock market crash of 1929 reduced the demand for plays, Bogart turned to film. His first great success was as Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest (1936), and was type-casted as a gangster in such films as Angels with Dirty Faces (1938).
His breakthrough as a leading man came in 1941, with High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon. Casablanca (1942), which is considered one the greatest films in the history of the American cinema, cemented his image as a film icon. Other successes followed, including To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947) and Key Largo (1948), with his wife Lauren Bacall; The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948); The African Queen (1951), for which he won his only Academy Award; Sabrina (1954) and The Caine Mutiny (1954).
His last film was The Harder They Fall (1956).
Over a period of 30 years Bogart appeared in 75 feature films.
Bogart’s father, Belmont, was a cardiopulmonary surgeon. His mother, Maud Humphrey, was a commercial illustrator, who received her art training in New York and France, including studying with James McNeill Whistler, and who later became artistic director of the fashion magazine The Delineator. The Bogarts lived in a fashionable Upper West Side apartment, and had an elegant cottage on a fifty-five acre estate in upstate New York on Canandaigua Lake. As a youngster, Humphrey’s gang of friends at the lake would put on theatricals.
Humphrey was the oldest of three children; he had two younger sisters, Frances and Catherine Elizabeth (Kay). His parents were busy in their careers, and frequently fought.
“I was brought up very unsentimentally but very straightforwardly. A kiss, in our family, was an event. Our mother and father didn’t glug over my two sisters and me.”
Over the years, Bogart practiced all kinds of lip movements and nasal tones, snarls, lisps and slurs. His leer and fiendish grin were the most accomplished ever seen on film.
Bogart shuttled back and forth between Hollywood and the New York stage from 1930 to 1935, suffering long periods without work.
His parents had separated, and Belmont died in 1934 in debt. Bogart eventually paid off his father’s debt. Bogart inherited his father’s gold ring which he always wore, and in many of his films. At his father’s deathbed, Bogart finally told Belmont how much he loved him.
Bogart, a heavy smoker and drinker, contracted cancer of the esophagus. He almost never spoke of his failing health and refused to see a doctor until January 1956. A diagnosis was made several weeks later, surgery was performed, removing his esophagus, two lymph nodes and a rib on March 1, 1956. He underwent corrective surgery in November 1956 after the cancer had spread.
Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy came to see him.He was frequently visited by Frank Sinatra. Bogart was too weak to walk up and down stairs. He valiantly fought the pain and tried to joke about his immobility: “Put me in the dumbwaiter and I’ll ride down to the first floor in style.” The dumbwaiter was altered to accommodate his wheelchair. Hepburn, in an interview, described the last time she and Spencer Tracy saw Bogart on the night before he died:
Spence patted him on the shoulder and said, “Goodnight, Bogie.” Bogie turned his eyes to Spence very quietly and with a sweet smile covered Spence’s hand with his own and said, “Goodbye, Spence.” Spence’s heart stood still. He understood.
Bogart had just turned 57 and weighed 80 pounds (36 kg) when he died on January 14, 1957 after falling into a coma. He died at 2:25 a.m. at his home at 232 Mapleton Drive in Holmby Hills, California.
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