There are Hollywood stars and there are Hollywood stars. Sure, some become filthy rich and famous, but others become legends of sorts. There has been plenty of them over the course of history, but none can deny that one of the all-time greatest is Humphrey Bogart.
The American stage and screen actor is considered one of the most durable stars of all time, a performer who turned pretty much anything he touched into gold.
At the same time as he was filling his cabinet with awards and prizes, he also raised a family. Amongst his brood was son Stephen Humphrey Bogart, who these days keeps his father’s legacy alive. The fact of the matter is, however, that he didn’t know how big of a star his father was until after the man was laid to rest.
There are many legendary actors in Hollywood whose names will forever be remembered. There’s been one for each generation and decade, be they Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne or Paul Newman.
Humphrey Bogart – film icon
All these iconic movie stars did something that shaped the future for the next generation of actors and actresses. But few managed to shape the entire entertainment and film industry like Humphrey Bogart.
The American actor was seen in any number of the most iconic films of his time, and starred in more than 80 films in his career.
Among the classics he portrayed are characters such as Linus Larrabee in Sabrina (alongside Audrey Hepburn), Dixon Steele in In A Lonely Place, and of course, as night club owner Rick Blaine in the wonderful Casablanca, starring alongside the stunning Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund.
Humphrey Bogart was always destined to become an actor.
Humphrey Bogart – childhood
Born into a wealthy New York family in New York City on December 25, 1899, Humphrey Bogart had the tools necessary to form his creative style.
His father was a prominent heart surgeon, while his mother was a successful painter, as well as artistic director of a women’s fashion magazine called The Delineator.
When he was only a baby, his mother painted Humphrey Bogart for a baby food company, and his likeness was used in a national advertising campaign.
While still wearing diapers, he was a huge star.
“There was a period in American history when you couldn’t pick up a goddamned magazine without seeing my kisser in it,” he recalled, as quoted by Biography.
His mother was a hard working woman, but as per Humphrey himself, she didn’t much like her son.
“If, when I was grown up, I had sent my mother one of those Mother’s Day telegrams or said it with flowers, she would have returned the wire and flowers to me, collect,” he said.
Start of film career
Following several failed attempts of studying at different private schools, as well as a short stint in the US Navy during World War I, Bogart landed his first job in show business thanks to a stage actress named Alice Brady. He was the company manager in the touring production of The Ruined Lady, and a year later made his debut on stage in the production Drifting.
At this point, Humphrey Bogart wanted to do acting more than anything. He was still in New York, but as with anyone interested in film, he knew he needed to move to Los Angeles. The next decade proved to be tough for him, as he struggled getting big roles. Then, in 1934, everything changed when he starred as escaped killer Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest.
Bogart was now on his way to greatness, and he’d never leave.
Humphrey became what could be described as an actor everyone wanted in their films. He starred in several gangster movies, including The Great O’Malley (1937), Dead End (1937) and King of the Underworld (1939), among others.
These roles all had a common theme, though, and playing the same kind of character wasn’t a challenge for Bogart, who wanted something more. In 1941, he starred in the iconic The Maltese Falcon, and was finally on his way to becoming a legend.
Humphrey Bogart – Casablanca
The following year, Bogart starred alongside Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca, which, as we know today, became as one of the greatest films of all time. Who could ever forget Bogart’s now legendary last line in the film: “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Casablanca won three Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Director. By that point, Bogart was a major Hollywood player.
The celebrated actor continued his work in Hollywood for over two decades, earning himself his first Academy Award in 1952, following his performance in The African Queen.
Around the same time, Bogart also met the love of his life. In 1945, he married actress Lauren Bacall. They first worked together in the 1944 film To Have and Have Not, and went on to star in a total of four films together. Together, they welcomed children Stephen Humphrey Bogart (born in 1949) and Leslie Howard Bogart (born in 1952).
However, following working in the business for more than three decades, tragedy struck the world of show business in 1957.
Humphrey Bogart – cause of death
A year before, in 1956, Bogart had visited the internist of fellow actor colleague Greer Carson after he’d experienced a bad cough. It wasn’t all that odd – he’d been a smoker for quite a while – but this time something felt different.
In her memoir, Lauran Bacall described it as: “sometimes his throat burned when he drank orange juice.”
She recalled him looking like a completely different person, with his hand and arm being “swollen to four times their normal size” and a “terrible black thing placed in his mouth to keep him from swallowing his tongue.”
It turned out that Bogart had an inflamed esophagus which required emergency surgery. Sadly, he never recovered. On January 15, 1957, Humphrey Bogart passed away, age 58. Shortly before passing away in his Los Angeles home, he put his hand on the arm of wife Lauren Bacall and said “goodbye, kid,” his doctor, Dr.Michael Flynn, told the Detroit Free Press.
“How could a body take that much?” Bacall asked. “Poor baby — all those tubes, those bottles — what was the body under the blanket like?. He looked so unlike Bogie — still mercifully unconscious, enclosed in another world, protected not by me, but by those raised bedsides, with those bottles and tubes sustaining life.”
Humphrey Bogart’s funeral ceremony was held at the All Saints Episcopal Church, with many celebrities in attendance; Audrey Hepburn, Judy Garland, Ronald Reagan, Bette Davis, Joan Fontaine, Marlene Dietrich and Errol Flynn were all there. His ashes were spread in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park’s Columbarium of Eternal Light in Glendale, California.
Son Stephen Humphrey Bogart
For the world of show business, it was a big shock. And, of course, for Bogart’s family, the passing of their beloved father and husband was impossible to take in.
But now, his son Stephen Humphrey Bogart is doing his best to preserve his beloved father’s memory. The fact is, while Stephen was growing up, he didn’t have a clue that his father was one of the biggest movie stars on the planet.
And looking at Stephen today, the resemblance with his father is just uncanny.
Stephen Humphrey Bogart was only eight years old when his father passed. But it was enough time for him to receive the love of a caring father who always put him first.
Stephen was born January 6, 1949, in Los Angeles, California.
Growing up as Bogart’s son
Growing up, since his father was always working on some film project, Stephen Humphrey didn’t see him a lot. However, he has many fond memories of them doing things together.
“He would take me down to the Santana,” he told Fox News. “Eventually, finally, when I learned how to swim, we would go out on the boat. I remember going to Catalina Island and swimming back to the Santana. I made it and he was very proud of me at that time because he knew that I knew how to swim. That kind of pride sticks with you.”
Every time Humphrey Bogart came home from work, he loved to enjoy dinner with his wife.
“It was the age in the ‘50s when kids were seen, not heard,” Stephen recalls. “Parents had dinners, at least my mother and father did, with the adults. But they were in love. And they were good together. They were man and wife.”
It isn’t the easiest thing growing up without knowing what your parents do for a living. Of course, when your father’s a major Hollywood star, it might be easier to figure it out.
In shock at the funeral
Still, Stephen Humphrey never understood that he had a father whose face was recognized all over the world.
“I wasn’t. They didn’t bring me up that way,” he explained.
“When you’re growing up with that in your family, your family is your family. And your family is, you know, your mother and your father and you still get time out and they still argue with you and, “no mom!” and you fight. You grow up across the street from Sammy Cahn and also across the street from Art Linkletter. Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft and Joey and Judy Garland lived down the street. Gloria Grahame lived behind us. So when you’re in with those people, they’re just like friends and parents. It’s nothing special.”
The, when his father passed away, Stephen realized there was something special about his father. It came as something of a shock.
“When my father died there were 3,000 people I didn’t know at the funeral,” Bogart told Fox. “I figured there was something different. And there certainly was.”
Just a couple of days before the funeral, Stephen had begun to sense that there was something different.
Stephen Humphrey Bogart – career
It was the burden of having a very famous father, with photographers chasing the Bogart family around.
“They came at me like a gang of big kids, taking my picture without even asking,” Stephen wrote according to The New York Times.
“I didn’t want my picture taken anymore. But now at the church, after the funeral, I knew how to stop them, I thought. I would simply put my hands over my face so they couldn’t see me, and they would not take my picture. “
However, his face was soon in newspapers all over the country. The burden of having a famous father was real, and his life would never be the same. He and his mother moved to England, before later settling in New York City. But being the famous son of Humphrey Bogart wasn’t easy, no matter where he was.
Stephen briefly turned to drugs, and was later kicked out of several colleges. In 1979, he graduated from the University of Hartford.
No matter what had happened before, Stephen made sure to keep his father’s legacy alive. He became a producer for NBC’s Sunday Today, and later an executive for its news department. He’s also been the executive producers of four films, the latest one being White Orchid, in 2018.
At the same time, Stephen Humphrey Bogart devotes his time to preserving his father’s work. He’s worked with the Esophageal Cancer Action network, as well as volunteering and raising awareness of esophageal cancer.
Keeping his father’s legacy alive
Together with his managing partner Robert, he started the Humphrey Bogart Estate’s Facebook Page, which as of now has over 500,000 likes.
“We manage the estate, my father’s name and likeness, Bogart LLC, Stephen told Cinema-Fanatic. “I’m very active in that. We talk every week and we do what we can do to keep everything going and thanks to Warner Bros., they help a lot.”
Stephen Humphrey Bogart has now turned 71 years of age. He says that you can’t explain his father’s legacy with words. But at the same time – after some very troublesome years following Humphrey’s passing – he appreciates being his son.
“You know, people say ‘what do you think about that?’ and you’d can’t explain it,” Stephen Humphrey Bogart says.
“It’s great films, great writing. He was an excellent, great actor and everything just sort of came together. It’s like being Elvis Presley’s kids. How do you quantify that? You can’t, really. It’s just an amazing thing to me and it’s an amazing thing that my mother and my father are my mother and my father. I mean, “oh you’re Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s kid?” I don’t think that way, but it is pretty amazing that somebody is their child and that that somebody is me.
We will always remember Humphrey Bogart as the wonderful actor he was. And at the same time, we are truly grateful for his son Stephen keeping his father’s legacy alive.
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