Saturday, July 7, 2012
Bogart's first big film role came in 1936 playing escaped murderer Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest. Between 1936-1940, he made an average of six movies a year for Warner Brothers, most mediocre. These were his B-Movie years and Bogart was cast primarily as a gangster. During this period, Bogart entered his third marriage, to actress Mayo Methot. Methot was a heavy drinker and paranoid that Bogart was cheating on her. They fought constantly and the press dubbed them "the battling Bogarts." Mayot set their house on fire, stabbed Bogart with a knife and slashed her wrists on several occasions. Bogart bought a yacht and began finding refuge at sea.
In 1941, Bogart starred in High Sierra, a film written by John Huston. Huston became a film director and cast Bogart as Detective Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon. The film was a hit and Bogart was able to shed his gangster image. Bogart's watershed role came in 1942 playing Rick Blaine in Casablanca. Bogart's teaming with Ingrid Bergman yielded the greatest romantic pairing in movie history. Off set, the two barely spoke. In 1944, Bogart met Lauren Bacall while filming To Have And Have Not. Bogart was 44, Bacall 19. They reunited for The Big Sleep and their scenes together crackled with sexual tension. In 1945, Bogart divorced Mayo Methot and married Bacall. They bore two children making Bogart a father at age 49.
Bogart continued making great films and in 1951 he won a Best Actor Academy Award for The African Queen. He became a vocal protester against Senator McCarthy and the Hollywood Blacklist. In 1956, while dining at Romanoffs, Bogart started coughing horribly. A heavy smoker and drinker, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He returned home and remained bedridden, losing so much weight he was transported up and downstairs in the dumb waiter. He died at age 57. Because he was cremated, a glass-enclosed model of his beloved yacht Santana stood in place of his casket at the funeral. John Huston eulogized Bogart with the words: "In each of the fountains at Versailles there is a pike which keeps all the carp active, otherwise they would grow fat and die. Bogie took delight in performing a similar duty in the fountains of Hollywood." (6" x 7", black ink print.)