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Who is Humphrey Bogart?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
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  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2016
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Humphrey Bogart is an American actor who was deemed the Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute in 1999. He starred in 75 feature films and is known affectionately by fans as Bogie, the name actor Spencer Tracy first called him in 1930. Some of his most memorable movies are Key Largo, The African Queen, The Caine Mutiny, The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca.

Humphrey DeForest Bogart was born 25 December 1899 in New York City, New York to Belmont and Maud Bogart. Some sources list 23 January as Bogart's actual birthdate and this may be true if the Christmas birthdate was used for image purposes on his acting bio, as some people claim is the case. Bogart's father was a surgeon, his mother was a commercial artist and Humphrey Bogart was the oldest of three children. As a baby, his artist mother drew pictures of him that were used in a Mellins baby food advertising campaign.

Humphrey Bogart attended New York's Christian Musler Academy School and then the Phillips Academy in Massachusetts. Phillips was a prestigious school and details of why Humphrey Bogart was expelled vary, but both low grades and disobeying school rules were said to be reasons. Bogart joined the Naval Reserve and worked at odd jobs. His first acting role was as a Japanese butler in a 1921 play in Brooklyn. After that, he had small roles in 21 Broadway plays between 1922 and 1935.

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Humphrey Bogart was married four times and his first marriage, to Helen Menken, only lasted a year although they stayed friends. In 1928, Bogart married Mary Philips but she was a Broadway actress and refused to move to Hollywood when Bogie began to make movies there. In 1938, Humphrey Bogart married Mayo Methot and she had a serious drinking problem. When drunk, she would throw objects at Bogie and Bogie would sometimes throw the objects back, which prompted the press to call them the "Battling Bogarts." Humphrey Bogart's fourth marriage was to actress Lauren Bacall and they were known as "Bogie and Bacall."

Bogie made B movies in the 1920s and 1930s in Hollywood for Warner Brothers. In the beginning, all of his roles were the tough criminal which Bogart despised playing, but did anyway because he really wanted to be an actor. Humphrey Bogart frequently wore his own suits in these films because he thought the Warner Brothers wardrobe suits looked too cheap. Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney were Warner's leading actors, while the most Bogart got was the second lead, usually the criminal shot by one of the lead characters.

Things changed when Warner Brothers had the screen rights to the Broadway play, The Petrified Forest. Humphrey Bogart's friend, Leslie Howard, had one of the lead roles in the play and Warner Brothers wanted Edward G. Robinson to star along with Howard in the film version of The Petrified Forest. Howard fought hard and convinced Warner Brothers to cast Humphrey Bogart as the other lead instead and Bogart was so grateful that he named his daughter Leslie Howard Bogart. Bogart had many memorable leading roles after that such as private detective Sam Spade in 1941's The Maltese Falcon, nightclub owner/chess player Rick Blaine in 1942's Casablanca and his Academy Award-winning Charlie Alnutt in 1951's The African Queen. Humphrey Bogard died of cancer of the esophagus on 14 January, 1957.

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