In a day when nearly all our movie stars are available to be seen in their personal lives as commonly as we see the evening news, it may be shocking to learn about the lives of those Old Hollywood stars we see in classic films. We look back at the legends of the silver screen and don’t know much that we should.
Humphrey Bogart is a film titan about whom far too little is known by current citizens of culture. In 1999, the American Film Institute named him as the Greatest Male Screen Legend of all time, ahead of such icons as Marlon Brando, Clark Gable, and James Dean. He was the founding member of the Rat Pack, which Frank Sinatra took over after Bogart passed away. He was married to the great Lauren Bacall, who said of their life together that “no one has ever written a romance better than we lived it.” Though he passed away in 1957, his legacy continues to thrive through the efforts of the Humphrey Bogart Estate, which is co-managed by Robbert de Klerk and Stephen Bogart, the son of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. The Bogart Estate is charged with honoring and promoting Bogart’s legacy.
Nicknamed “Bogie” by his friend Spencer Tracy, Bogart became the face of the Film Noir genre that came to prominence in the 1930s and 40s. With films like The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, and Casablanca, he solidified himself as a cultural icon. Dissatisfied with the studio system that dominated Hollywood in those days, Humphrey Bogart was one of the very first actors to start his own production company. His Santana Productions shingle, launched in 1948 and named after Bogie’s beloved boat, went on the produce classics such as In a Lonely Place and Beat the Devil. By the end of his career, he had starred in 75 films, including classics such as The African Queen (with Katharine Hepburn), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, To Have and Have Not (with his wife, Lauren Bacall), The Caine Mutiny, and Sabrina (with Audrey Heburn).
Mr. Bogart was a renaissance man in the truest sense of the word. He was a scratch golfer, an excellent chess player who once played a grandmaster to a draw, and an accomplished sailor who won several races. During the McCarthy era, he was a member of the Committee for the First Amendment, a political action group committed to supporting the Hollywood Ten. Though he came from a privileged background, Humphrey Bogart was dedicated to serving the underdog and was always known as a straight talker. In 1941, Lena Horne moved to Hollywood, which at the time did not permit black residents. When her neighbors tried to get rid of her, Humphrey Bogart came to her defense. Ms. Horne always remembered that Bogie “raised hell with them for passing around a petition trying to get rid of me.” Ms. Horne said that Bogart told her “if anyone bothers you, please let me know.” He was a man who always questioned authority, with a cynicism that helped him cut to the truth.
Humphrey Bogart epitomizes the type of figure we would love to see more of: a critical thinker who was engaged, interesting, and ethical. In addition to possessing all those qualities, he was also a man who liked a good drink. The drink of Bogart’s time was gin, which is currently experiencing its own renaissance. The Bogart Estate has partnered with ROK Drinks, which is led by billionaire entrepreneur and Patron Tequila co-founder John Paul DeJoria, to launch Bogart’s Gin. This top shelf gin is the perfect product through which to discover the man. Have a sip, and reflect on the amazing legacy of a life truly well-lived.