"Here's looking at you, kid."
—His famous lines from Casablanca
"The stuff that dreams are made of."
—His famous line from The Maltese Falcon
Humphrey Bogart was born in 1899 to Belmont Deforest Bogart, a New York society doctor of Knickerbocker descent, and his wife, society illustrator Maud Humphrey. After being kicked out of Andover Academy (one of the most prestigious schools in New England), Humphrey did a stint in the Navy as a military policeman near the end of World War One, gaining his trademark scar (and lisp) from a sailor's fist . He drifted into acting in the early 1920s and became a regular in Broadway productions, often playing society fops. The 1929 stock market crash forced many Broadway theatres to close, but the real impetus behind Bogart's move to Hollywood and movies was the crash's effect on his family's finances; his father had been bankrupted, leaving Bogart's mother and disabled sister almost destitute and Bogart himself without a safety net. After some years of toiling in obscurity, his first great success was as the ferocious Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest, which led to a period of typecasting as a gangster in B-movies. His breakthrough came in 1941 with High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon. The next year, his performance as Rick Blaine in Casablanca raised him to the peak of his profession and at the same time, cemented his trademark film persona, that of the hard-boiled cynic who ultimately shows his noble side. Other successes followed, including To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, and Key Largo, with his wife Lauren Bacall (whom he married on friend Peter Lorre's advice); The Treasure of the Sierra Madre; The African Queen, opposite Katharine Hepburn, for which he won his only Academy Award; Sabrina, and The Caine Mutiny. During a film career of almost thirty years, he appeared in 75 feature films.
He was, and remains, awesome.
Despite being, arguably, not mainstream Hollywood and showing disdain for the general 'Movie star attitude' (he hated phonies), Bogart, in his capacity as a leading man and even a bit before that, got to work with many of the major female stars of the period, including Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn etc. He was also pretty connected to many of the major male stars through the Rat Pack and his funeral was a veritable 'Who's who' of Hollywood.
At the time of his death from cancer in 1957, Bogart was one of the most respected figures in American cinema. Since his death, his persona and film performances have been considered as having a lasting impact and have led to him being described as a cultural icon. In 1997, Entertainment Weekly magazine named him the number one movie legend of all time. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked him the Greatest Male Star of All Time.
The term "Bogart," used to mean "hoard" (as in, "stop Bogarting that joint, give it to me") comes from how Bogart's characters would often be seen holding lit cigarettes, but would rarely actually take a puff.
He also makes appearances in several Looney Tunes shorts, including one where Elmer Fudd hits him in the face with a coconut custard pie with whipped cream.
Tropes relating to Bogart and his work include:
- Academy Award: Won for The African Queen.
- Badass Longcoat: Frequently. Can make a strong claim to being the Trope Codifier.
- Of course in the movies he was pretty badass himself.
- Dead Artists Are Better: Almost universally regarded, now, as the greatest actor who ever lived. He was a big star during his lifetime, but at the time he wasn't any bigger than Gable, Robinson, etc.
- In fact before High Sierra the producers at Warner Bros didn't think he could even play a leading man. So Bogart found himself constantly having to work hard for fame and recognition and to get the roles he really wanted, whereas guy like Gable and Robinson, and a few more that you probably never heard of, simply got fame handed to them with one good picture.
- Film Noir: Does it star Humphrey Bogart? Then yes, it is film noir.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Underneath all that cynicism beats the heart of a knight. Most of the time.
- According to his wife he was a little bit like this in real life as well. Bogie referred to himself as a last century man (being born Christmas 1899) and was typically quite a gentleman, espousing some long forgotten Victorian ideals.
- Matzo Fever: Had it for Lauren Bacall, whom he married.
- May-December Romance: His marriage to Lauren Bacall.
- Nice Hat: Admit it, his fedora is awesome.
- They named that type of fedora The Bogart Fedora, because he popularised it.
- Private Detective: Trope Codifier with his playing the quintessential PI in The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep, which were movie versions of two of the best hardboiled crime novels.
- Rat Pack: He invented it. Not Sinatra.
- Lauren Bacall is the link, having named the group (she found Bogart and friends after an all-night bender and said they looked "like a god-damned rat pack") and dated Sinatra after Bogart's death. Ironically, Bogart told Sinatra's ex-wife Ava Gardner that most women would kill to be with a guy like Frank when they were making The Barefoot Contessa.
- Smoking Is Cool: Hoo, boy.
- The Alcoholic
- When Bogart was in front of a judge on a trumped-up personal assault charge for a 4 AM restaurant altercation, the judge asked him if he was drunk. He said, "At 4 in the morning, isn't everyone?"
- He and director John Huston were the only two people working on The African Queen who didn't succumb to a bout of dysentery. It's because they didn't drink much besides whiskey.
- Despite this, Huston was always quick to point out that Bogart wasn't an alcoholic, at least in the sense that most people understand the term.
- Those Two Actors: Him and Bacall.
- Also him and Bette Davis (they made at least four films together before he was really famous), him and Edward G Robinson, and a combination of him, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre (either one of them or both).
- Typecasting: His first experience with typecasting was in the theatre, where he was typecast as (we kid you not) the archetypical effeminate, snotty Rich Idiot With No Day Job. His success years later in The Petrified Forest led him to be re-typecast as a thug. Then, when he'd finally ducked that with performances in The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca, the studios stereotyped him again, this time as a tough, wisecracking Jerk with a Heart of Gold. To Have and Have Not is great, but Tokyo Joe and Sirocco are among his weaker movies; Bogie does what he can, but there was more to Casablanca than Rick, which the studios forgot. His charisma makes the films pretty watchable nonetheless.
- White Anglo Saxon Protestant: Despite his streetwise demeanor, the Episcopalian-reared Bogart was raised in patrician surroundings (e.g., attended the elite Phillips Andover Academy, grew up on the Upper West Side, father was a prominent medical doctor, etc) He was nevertheless quite a rebel, getting expelled from school and spending most of his time in the 20s (and his 20s) getting drunk in speakeasies and getting into fights. Not your typical WASP.
- Yandere: His third wife, Mayo Methot.
- Although this may be a Beam Me Up, Scotty. One special on Bogart claimed his last words were 'Hurry back,' after Lauren Bacall briefly left his side to pick his children up from school
- There are varying stories as to how Bogie got his scar and lisp, that's just one of them