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Things You Didn’t Know About Humphrey Bogart2

By Steven Novak

15 Things You Didn’t Know About Humphrey Bogart

When you think of hard-nosed detectives, leggy dames, and mysteries wrapped inside of mysteries wrapped inside of riddles, no doubt the first name that comes to mind is Humphrey Bogart. The man defined a genre, and that genre was called Film Noir. It’s been almost a century since the start of his career and the genre is still a staple in any medium. KoldCast TV’s modern day noir mystery series, Night Walkers, proves that the spirit, the mood, and the surly hard-knuckle goodness of those incredible Bogart films are not only alive, but in good hands. In honor of Film Noir and its elder statesman, we’re proud to present to you fifteen things you didn’t know about Humphrey Bogart.

1. He Made Eight Films with the Same Director

Bogart teamed with legendary director/Hollywood tough guy John Houston quite a bit over the course of his career. The collaboration began with “The Maltese Falcon” in 1941. The pair would go on to make seven more films together including, “Across the Pacific,” “The African Queen,” “Beat the Devil,” “In This Our Life,” “Key Largo,” and “The Treasure of Sierra Madre.”

The Maltese Falcon Trailer

2. He Was an Accomplished Chess Player

After the stock market crash of 1929 wiped him out, Bogart was reduced to making money by playing chess at the numerous “sportlands” on Sixth Avenue. For a bet of fifty cents a game, he would play all comers. His love of the game stuck with him for the remainder of his life, and he was even known to have taken US Champion Samuel Reshevsky to a draw at one point.

3. He Was Featured on the “Legends of Hollywood Postage Stamp”

In 1997, Bogart joined the likes of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, as his mug was featured in the U.S. Postal Service’s “Legends of Hollywood” stamp set. He was the third Hollywood star to be given the honor. Alfred Hitchcock, John Wayne, Lucille Ball, and Cary Grant (among others) would come in the years following.

4. He is AFI’s “Most Quotable” Actor in Movies

When the American Film Institute compiled a list of the 100 most memorable movie quotes, no less then five of them were delivered by Bogart – making him the actor with the most on the list. Not too shabby for a guy that was so very famous for saying so very little for much of his career. Four out of five are from “Casablanca” alone.

#5 “Here’s looking at you kid.” – Casablanca
#14 “The stuff that dreams are made of.” – The Maltese Falcon
#20 “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” – Casablanca
#43 “We’ll always have Paris” – Casablanca
#67 “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.” – Casablanca

“Here’s looking at you kid.”

5. He Was Related to Princess Diana

Yep. Though it might sound more than a bit unbelievable, Bogart was actually the seventh cousin of the late Princess Diana of Wales through her American relatives.

6. He Was Named Male Star of the 20th Century

In 1999, the American Film Institute gave Humphrey Bogart the honor of being “The Greatest American Screen Legend.” Katherine Hepburn took the top spot for the ladies. He was in good company – rounding out the top five and coming in just behind Bogie were:

#2 Cary Grant
#3 James Stewart
#4 Marlon Brando
#5 Fred Astaire

The Big Sleep Trailer

7. He Appeared in a Commercial with Elton John

Long after his death, Bogart made what is maybe the most bizarre cameo of his career when he appeared in a Diet Coke commercial alongside Elton John and one of absolute corniest looking hats in the history of hats. If you’re thinking he must have been some sort of zombie in order to have pulled that one off, you’d be wrong. He and a couple other characters from the film “Casablanca” were inserted digitally. Also, just for future reference, zombies aren’t real.

Diet Coke commercial

8. No One Is Entirely Sure Where He Got That Scar

Frustrated with his lack of career options, Bogart enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1918 and served during World War I. He later remarked, “at 18, war was great stuff. Paris! French girls! Hot damn!” The details remain cloudy, but by some accounts, he acquired the trademark scar on his upper lip from a piece of shrapnel. Bogie claimed the scar came from a “childhood accident,” which lends some credibility to the theory that the studios made up some of the combat stories to enhance his image. Other anecdotes suggest he may have been scarred in a punchout during one of his many nights spent in illegal speakeasies. Regardless, the poorly treated wound would wind up causing his unmistakable lisp and grimace.

9. His Birthday Has Long Been a Subject of Controversy

People have been talking about Bogart’s birthday for years. It was long believed that the stories of him being born on Christmas Day 1899 was actually a bit of Warner Bros. fiction created to romanticize his background. Some believe he was really born on January 23, 1899, a date that appears in many references. However, this story isn’t exactly true either. Although no birth certificate has ever been found, his birth notice did appear in a New York newspaper in early January 1900 – which supports the December 1899 date, as do other sources, such as the 1900 census.

10. Early on He Kept $100 of “F” You Money In a Drawer

Long before he was Hollywood’s most famous tough guy, Bogart began his acting career on the stage. After serving in the United States Navy during WWI, he got his start playing a handful of very juvenile roles in drawing-room and country-house comedies. In 1920, he scored a leading roll in the comedy “Cradle Snatchers” and received a bevy of positive notices. It was during this time that he was said to have kept $100 dollars in his dresser drawer at all times, calling it his “F” you money. Instead of taking a part he didn’t want, he could just say “F” you.

11. He Was Expelled from Prep School

After being admitted based on family connections (with his family one day hoping he might attend Yale), Bogart was expelled from his prep school in 1918. The details of his expulsion, however, have been disputed throughout the years. One story claims that he was removed for throwing the headmaster (or maybe a groundskeeper) into a man-made lake on campus. Another claims smoking and drinking combined with poor academic performance and possibly some intemperate comments to the staff were the cause. It’s also been said that he was actually withdrawn from the school by his father for failing to improve his academics, as opposed to expulsion. The lake story really is the coolest.

12. His Likeness Was Used for a Baby Food Ad

As a rather famous Illustrator, Humphrey’s mother, Maud Bogart made many drawings of her chubby-cheeked infant – dressing him in girlish costumes and curls that often led to him being ridiculed as a child. He first became famous after appearing in a national advertising campaign for Mellin’s Baby Food. A celebrity soon after his birth as “the original Maud Humphrey baby,” Bogart once said, “There was a period in American history when you couldn’t pick up a god-damned magazine without seeing my kisser on it.”

13. He Coined the Phrase, “Tennis Anyone?”

Though he’s best known as the hard-bitten, world-weary man of few words, the world first took notice of Bogart in roles in which he played the ascot-wearing playboy, or maybe even the country club fixture frolicking through life in a dinner jacket and tails. In fact, during his time on Broadway, he was widely believed to be the first actor to mutter the dapper, and oh so pompus line, Tennis anyone?”

14. He Was Not a Scenester

Bogart rarely attended premieres, and sometimes never even watched his own films at all. He once said, “All over Hollywood, they are continually advising me, ‘Oh, you mustn’t say that. That will get you in a lot of trouble,’ when I remark that some picture or writer or director or producer is no good. I don’t get it. If he isn’t any good, why can’t you say so? If more people would mention it, pretty soon it might start having some effect.” The Hollywood press didn’t know quite what to make of such blunt sincerity, and many industry insiders steered clear of Bogart to avoid conflict. He was that all-to-rare creature: a star with genuine personal convictions.

15. He Wasn’t First Choice for the Role of Rick – Or Was He?

It has been widely circulated for years that Ronald Reagan turned down the role of Rick Blaine in Casablanca which was later given to Humphrey Bogart – a role that made Bogart a legend and solidified his place as a major player in Hollywood. The truth is the studio, to help promote Ronald Reagan’s movie “King’s Row,” planted this odd little bit of information. In fact, Rick was always Bogart’s role – which is good, because lets be perfectly honest, Regan just wouldn’t have worked.

Heads or Tails

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Steven Novak is a writer, illustrator, graphic designer and admitted lifelong nerd with an embarrassingly large DVD collection. He is currently working and living in the Southern California desert. His most recent fantasy/action adventure novel, “Forts: Fathers and Sons,” is available everywhere books are sold.

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Must Reads 7/30/2014