‘We had it all just like Bogie and Bacall’. It may just be a line of a popular eighties song, but it also describes the great love story of these two icons. Their story is one for the ages; to this day Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart are seen as an example of true love beating the odds. Classic Hollywood Central takes a look at some of Classic Hollywood’s real life love stories and where better to begin then with Bogie and Bacall?
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s love story began when director and producer Howard Hawks was looking for a leading lady to star opposite Bogie in To Have and Have Not (1944). Howard’s wife saw a picture of Lauren, who was a model at the time, in Vogue and urged Howard to let her do a screen-test. Soon enough Lauren was signed to a seven year contract. She was introduced to Humphrey Bogart on the set of Passage to Marseille, which he was shooting before To Have and Have Not. There were no fireworks, she later said he was shorter then she had imagined, but that he seemed very friendly.
At the time the forty-four year old Bogie was married to his third wife Mayo. It was not a happy marriage, they both drank heavily and fights often erupted. Lauren was just nineteen and very green. She was extremely nervous to shoot her first film and Bogie helped put her at ease. He was easy going and joked around with her a lot. According to Lauren, something changed a few weeks into filming.
He called her frequently, they started spending more and more time together and it started feeling more intimate then a friendship. He always called her ‘Baby’, she sometimes called him ‘Steve’, like his character in the movie. Their romance deepened, but Bogie was torn. He was a man of his word and he felt that he owed it to his wife to do everything he could to make his marriage work.
To Have and Have Not was such a big success, that the two were immediately cast in another film together: The Big Sleep (1945). Bogie was trying to save his marriage, but it was hard for Lauren and him to stay away from each other. His wife Mayo started drinking more and more, and she subsequently became more violent. It was becoming clear that their marriage could not be saved and Bogie left her after filming The Big Sleep. He filed for divorce in February, 1945 and once the divorce was granted ‘Bogie and Bacall’ could finally be together. They wasted no time and on May 21, 1945 Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall got married in a simple ceremony.
They were as happy as can be and the studio capitalized on their happiness immediately. The newlyweds were cast in two more films together: Dark Passage (1946) and Key Largo (1947).
They were rarely apart as they missed each other too much and Lauren’s priorities had shifted from her career to her marriage. She convinced Bogie that he was not too old to have children and after a couple of years Lauren got pregnant with their first child. On January 6, 1949 Stephen Humphrey Bogart was born, named after Bogie’s character in To Have and Have Not. They were crazy about their first child, but Bogie was a bit jealous of the attention Stephen got from Lauren. He wanted to remain her number one priority and when he had to shoot on location in Africa for The African Queen, he demanded that Lauren went with him and they left Stephen with the nanny. On August 23, 1952 Lauren gave birth to their daughter Leslie, named after actor Leslie Howard who had helped Bogie break into acting.
Their picture perfect family life was complete. That same year the couple began helping Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson with his campaign. Lauren later admitted that she was a bit infatuated with Adlai at the time, but it was innocent and Bogie’s friends even joked about it. Bogie still worked steadily, but Lauren got less big offers and only played in a film every once in a while. The Bogart’s were known for their elaborate social life during their marriage. They were friends with a lot of other celebrities, such as Frank Sinatra and Katharine Hepburn, and Bogie was even the founding member of the infamous Rat Pack.
In 1956 Bogie and Lauren were set to play in their first movie together since Key Largo. But during pre-production they found out that Bogie suffered from cancer of the esophagus. Even though his esophagus, two lymph nodes and a rib were removed and he had undergone chemotherapy, the cancer was spreading. He spent his last months at home where Lauren and nurses took care of him and friends visited. On January 14,1957 Humphrey Bogart passed away.
According to her autobiography, Lauren felt numb the weeks after his death and she tried to focus on her children. After Bogie’s death Frank Sinatra became a shoulder to lean on and they started a relationship. They became engaged but broke up soon after. From 1961 to 1969 Lauren was married to actor Jason Robards Jr.. They had a son together, but she left him due to his drinking. She has won a Tony Award, an honorary Oscar and continued to work as an actress. Lauren always saw Humphrey Bogart as the love of her life. On august 12, 2014 she passed away at the age of 89.
As for the couple’s two children: their son Stephen went on to become a documentary filmmaker, news producer and author. He wrote a book about his father and hosted a television special about him for TCM. He has been married twice and has three children. He now lives in Naples with his girlfriend.
Their daughter Leslie has rarely spoken about her parents publicly. She has been married to yoga master Erich Shiffmann since 1990 and is a yoga teacher.