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This Is Humphrey Bogart

Bob hope calls him Humphrey Go-cart. His fan mail reaches him addressed to the “merchant of menace,” “Bogey man,” “little boy boo.” Refer to him as a bad actor, a lousy lover, a goon at golf—it perturbs him not. Heaven help the guy who says he isn’t a good sailor.

Today in Hollywood, Humphrey Bogart has become a legend. There is only one who looks like him, who thinks like him, who acts like him. You can take him or leave him and the takers are many. Of one thing you can be sure. At all times, under all conditions, he is himself. Startling—yes. Unpredictable—usually. Captious—perhaps. Interesting—definitely. Humorous—always.

Hollywood’s number one pistol-packer was the first professional villain in his family. Santa Claus presented him to the world in New York City on Christmas day of 1900. His father was a doctor; his mother, the cover artist on the old Delineator magazine. She specializes in dewy-eyed, honey-haired cherubs. Baby Bogart was her favorite subject.

Twice before he lived to learn that crime does pay and pay mighty well—in the movies—Bogie had his own personal encounter with “justice.” The first time while he was serving in the Navy. By mistake he had been booked as a deserter. The charge was too incredible. Being Bogart, he laughed. The ten-day sentence was then upped to thirty. Being Bogart, he was furious.

While playing summer stock in Cohasset, Massachusetts, Bogie and Brod Crawford were arrested. When the thieves who had stolen the car were discovered, the boys were allowed to go free. Then the arresting officers asked for free passes to see the show! That was the kiss of death, so far as our hero was concerned. Right then and there he discovered he was the possessor of a most unusual and unlimited vocabulary.

Since playing that first screen heavy in an old George O’Brien Western, Bogie has traveled a long trail of blood and blasphemy—a movie record of which he can be justly proud. Since “The Maltese Falcon” and “Casablanca,” script writers have been instructed to toss him an occasional romantic bone. Now, whenever a producer has a new picture to discuss, Bogie opens the conversation by saying: “What is it this time—kiss or kill?”

The secret of the Bogart success—if there is a secret to hard work and being an excellent actor—lies perhaps in the touch of humor he applies to everything. Sometimes it’s quite broad. Look closely and you’ll find it creeps in, even in death scenes. Bogie likes acting. Occasionally a part comes along that really intrigues him. By no stretch of the imagination is he in the business because his artistic soul seeks outlet. To the contrary, he has been known to unburden himself on the subject of actors who hold out for moods and messages. The Messrs. Muni and Robinson, for example.

Apropos of the Bogart humor, one night he was dining quietly with friends in Chasen’s. A Martiniminded young lady lurched up to the table and heckled: “Who do you think ya are — Humfrey Bogart?” The owner of that name assured his fragile interrogator that he was laboring under that exact impression. Undaunted, she persisted:

“If you’re Hum-frey Bogart—less see ya snarl.”

With all the dignity of a statesman, Bogie slowly rose to his feet. In a kindly and courtly manner, he bowed. Looking the curious cutie straight in the eye, he curled back a lip that would have done credit to a Ubangi. The young lady collapsed like a paper bag.

Much has been said for and against the home life of the Bogarts. Take it from an eyewitness, they live the way it’s right for them to live. And they love it. Bogie was married to Helen Menken on May 20, 1926. On April 3, 1928, he married Mary Phillips. On bis first date with Mayo Methot they danced to “The Very Thought of You.” Bogie loves dancing—with Mayo, Bogie loves Mayo. They were married on August 20, 1938. Bogie likes being married. He’s essentially a lone wolf type of person who doesn’t like to be alone. “The very thought of you” always reminds him of Mayo and he doesn’t need a reminder. She understands him, appreciates him and indulges him.

“Our house bends but it never breaks,” grins Bogie. “We live in every part of it. No decorator has managed to rope off a room. Our friends are always welcome. Sometimes a friend brings a friend. Gradually it earned the name—‘Liberty Hall’.”

As a husband. Bogie is generous and inconsistent. They live on a budget. Each has an allowance. Bogie looks ahead and is the first one to tell you, “It can’t go on forever.” When they staged a show to raise money for the penniless widow of a comedian, he cryptically remarked, “There will never be benefits for Bogart.”

The first of the month finds Bogie checking over house bills. A two-hundred-dollar coat for Mayo? Okay. But wait—who’s Joe Bush? Why is he dunning them for $2.98. What for?

Mayo carefully explains. Joe Bush fixes frigidaires. The frigidaire needed fixing. The services for Joe Bush amount to $2.98. Bogie says it’s ridiculous. The studio could do it for half the price.

Mayo usually smiles to herself and remains silent. Then there are times when she doesn’t feel like smiling to herself. So she doesn’t remain silent. For reasons less and more important, they’re known as the “Battling Bogarts.” It’s not to be taken seriously. Certainly not by them.

Because the face doesn’t go with his kidding. Bogie sometimes gives the wrong impression. It doesn’t upset him. In “Passage To Marseille,” his latest picture, Claude Rains was before the camera. Bogie walked on the set just as Claude had to turn his head, raise one eyebrow. That was all. No dialogue. In a voice that caused a tumult. Bogie cracked, “And he gets paid five thousand dollars a week for doing that.”

To Bogie, everyone is a “Kreep”—a word he picked up from his good friend Peter Lorre. You can be a good “Kreep”—one he likes. Or, you can be a “Kreep” that gives him a pain in all the wrong places. It all depends on the way he says it. If he wants to remember your name and can’t, he calls you “kiddie.”

One morning, being late on the set, he dashed out of “Boystown”—his name for the make-up department. In the doorway he ran smack into Madame Ouspenskaya. Without stopping. Bogie glanced back over his shoulder. In the friendliest of fashion he shouted: “Good morning. How are ya—kiddie?”

Because he thinks the movie star thing is a racket, the Bogart humor will not allow him to take it seriously. As a result, his personal publicists have mental orgies. Among the finer things attributed to Bogie are a worm farm especially cultivated for fishermen; a pet gopher that surreptitiously moves his golf ball closer to the cup at Lakeside; a pet pigeon that alights on his window sill and throatily coos, “Good morning to you.”

While Bogie is essentially honest, he harbors a certain distrust for his fellow men. Not all, but some. It probably harkens back to those early days he served as company manager for the William Brady players. Theater managers, hotel clerks, booking agents who took advantage of his youth and inexperience, did little to inspire his enthusiasm for human behaviorism. He burns at people who take advantage—especially of the so-called “little” people.

Like the time they soaked his colored laundress double price for a female dog license. He called them on the phone. It was one of the rare occasions when he took advantage of his name. “This is Humphrey Bogart,” he said. He knew they’d listen and they did. The laundress received a refund.

Despite such things, there is no hate in Bogie. He is much too intelligent to hate. With one possible exception. In his first stage role he played a Japanese butler who served tea. Today the very smell of tea nauseates him. He hates it. Hates Japs because of that role. Also, because they are Japs.

In the movies Bogie doesn’t go for love scenes. Perhaps he remembers too vividly his first one in the theater. He was playing in “Drifting,” opposite the late Alice Brady. They didn’t actually kiss until the final dress rehearsal. When he released Miss Brady, she slowly backed away and screamed. The mortified young thespian had merely tried to do his job-well.

Bogie likes working opposite such girls as Ann Sheridan, Barbara Stanwyck and Mary Astor. Ingrid Bergman goes without saying. He explains it, “They aren’t dames. Those dames who wet their lips and wiggle give me a pain.”

Bogie has complete intolerance for boredom and stupidity. He likes newspapermen who usually have good yarns to spin. Bogie sits and listens. People who talk and say nothing, he refers to as “Barbers.” Think back on your own personal experiences in a barber chair and you’ll get what he means.

Among his close friends are Louis Bromfield, Peter Lorre, John Huston. They have wonderful arguments, usually political. Bromfield has a casual way of “starting something” between Mayo and Bogie. It’s easily accomplished by merely broaching the subject of Roosevelt vs. Willkie!

Bogie prides himself on having never been invited to the Rathbones’ pre-war parties. He says he will never make the “blue book.” He makes with one of those rare grins when he says it. He likes to kid himself for not being “as beautiful as Errol Flynn.” If he ever gets around to it, he wants to author a best seller entitled. “How to make enemies and irritate people.”

Bogie is a careful driver. Not too good a horseman He’s a light sleeper. He likes to stay up late. He never watches his health. In fact, he abuses it and can take it beautifully. Not only can he be ribbed himself, but he’ll tell you about it later. He has a bad temper. Once it’s out of his system he forgets it. He has no memory for big things. Little things never escape him.

For over three years Mayo has been trying to get him to a tailor. He owns exactly two suits. When Mayo held up a pair of pants and said, “Look, Bogie, your seat is out,” he agreed to go shopping. Mayo buys his shoes herself. Bogie, who loves moccasins and sneakers, warns her, “You’ll have to tie ’em on me.” She has to urge him to get a haircut. He’s never had a manicure but his hands are always neat. He saves old razor blades. He can’t listen to a dripping faucet.

His thirty-six-foot cruiser the “Sluggy” plays an important part in his life. Bogie who has never learned to relax, finds the boat his one release from exhaustion. Now that the “Sluggy” is in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, there aren’t so many week ends. If he wished. Bogie could paper his house with Victory Bonds. Unless something unforeseen happens, the Bogarts will be entertaining our boys in the Far East come Christmas.

He sees few movies. He especially remembers Robert Donat in “Goodbye, Mr. Chips.” The death of Leslie Howard affected him visibly. It was Leslie who got him the first big break in “Petrified Forest.” Several times during a night. Bogie gets up and looks out the window. He imagines someone is trying to steal his car. The car is insured. He can’t understand this phobia. Bogie’s favorite composer is Debussy. He insists he’s not a sentimentalist. He loathes snoods on women. The hardware stores in Balboa where the “Sluggy” is anchored are his grand passion. All his allowance money goes for inexpensive gadgets.

Bogie is contrary and doesn’t like to do what everyone else is doing. He has never read “Gone With The Wind.” He never will. He boils when quoted as strictly “dese,” “dem” and “dose.” He has excellent usage of words and is a well-informed talker. He sleeps in the raw and feels foolish with a moustache. He likes to wear his shirt out. He enjoys a peculiar kind of comfort. He thinks the movie villains should form a union and demand a more active sex life—in pictures, of course, for screen “heavies.”

Michael Curtiz, his inimitable director, refers to him as “the snake in the bushes,” or the “flea in the ointment.” Bogie, who has shot it out with the best of ’em, categorizes his calling: “It’s good money for pulling wings off poor defenseless houseflies.”

Bogart is definitely and individually a legend. That legend he will always remain. Pigeonhole that personality if you will. Pin him down to a philosophy. His own simple design for living. With that sense of humor—just try and do it. We know. We tried. Perhaps the following best explains it. To us Bogie said:

“Life is short. It can be pretty exciting. There can’t be anything important enough to warrant carrying a grudge. That’s why we sleep in a double bed. You can’t wake up in the morning next to someone and not talk. When you aren’t mad, the world can be a pretty good place to live in.”

If you are mad—it should be over Bogie!