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No matter when you were born or what movies you have seen, you know the name of Humphrey Bogart. Bogie was a legendary actor, one of Hollywood’s first tough guys with an edge, and he made his name in the hard boiled noire of the 40s and classics like Casablanca and The African Queen. Here are 11 things about Bogart you may not have known…
1. Although usually considered a quiet and accommodating actor by most of his collaborators, he became disliked by William Holden and Billy Wilder during the filming of Sabrina in 1954. A good friend before they made the film, Wilder later said that Bogart, near the end of his life, apologized for his behavior on the set and said it was due to his personal problems.
2. He was voted the Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
3. New York Times reported on 12/25/2000 that “Humphrey Bogart was born on 23 January 1899, but Warner Brothers publicity decided that a Christmas birthday would be far more advantageous because ‘a guy born on Christmas can’t be all bad.'” However, copies of two 1900 census forms prove this to be incorrect.
4. There is some dispute as to how Bogey’s lip injury occurred. One story is that when Bogart was in the Navy, a prisoner he was escorting attempted to escape and hit Bogart in the face with his shackles. Bogart, fearing that he would lose his position and be severely punished for letting a prisoner escape, chased down the man and brought him successfully to the Portsmouth Naval Prison. However, because the surgeon who stitched up his face did not do a very good job, Bogart was left with his trademark lisp. Another version has it that he caught a large wood splinter in his lip at the age of 12, but the combat story is more exciting.
5. Maud Bogart’s drawing of her baby Humphrey appeared in a national advertising campaign for Mellin’s Baby Food, not as often erroneously reported, for Gerber.
6. Frank Sinatra’s friends, known as The Clan, were originally a group of Bogart friends who enjoyed drinking heavily. They referred to themselves as ‘The Holmby Hills Rat Pack’, since Bogart lived in the Holmby Hills section of Hollywood. The Rat Pack name had originated one morning, after a night of heavy boozing, when Bogart’s wife Lauren Bacall came upon the sodden group and flatly stated, ‘You look like a God-damned rat pack.’ Bogart enjoyed the term, and a legend was born.
7. Like his friends John Huston and Spencer Tracy, Bogart was a heavy smoker and a heavy drinker, allegedly sustaining two packs of Chesterfields a day.
8. He was a close friend of Richard Burton, and once confessed to the Welsh actor that his ambition had always been to act in a Shakespearean play on stage. He regretted that the public probably would not be able to take him seriously in such a role, due to his screen image as the tough guy.
9. According to The Fifty Year Decline and Fall of Hollywood by Ezra Goodman, Bogart would often strategically disappear from his table at the Hollywood landmark restaurant Romanoff’s–a favorite Bogart hangout–when the check was brought to the table, especially after he had invited a magazine writer to dinner and drinks. Often the writer would wind up having to put on his expense account the bill that Bogart had run up for himself and his friends.
10. Bogart often played sailors in films such as The African Queen, The Caine Mutiny and Action in the North Atlantic. In real life Bogart joined the US Navy during the the First World War and served on the troopship USS Leviathan in the North Atlantic.
11. On June 24th, 2006, a section of West 103rd Street in the Upper West Side of New York City was renamed “Humphrey Bogart Place” in his honor. He had grown up at 245 W. 103rd Street, and a plaque was put there to commemorate the event.