His face is unforgettable and distinctive just like his films, and unlike many actors of his day, his birth name is the same as his stage name. Humphrey Bogart was born on Christmas Day in 1899 and died at the young age of 57 in January of 1957, but his extraordinary film career (he appeared in more than 75 films) and his iconic presence live on.

He had two siblings, and was the son of a surgeon (his father) and an artistic director and militant suffragette (his mother) whose busy professional lives left little time for their children and even less time for affection. Bogart is reported as saying that a kiss from one of his parents was a major event in his family. He enjoyed a wealthy upbringing living in an upscale apartment in the fashionable Upper West Side of New York City as well as at a fifty-five-acre cottage in upstate New York.  

It was his time in the Navy that cemented his love for the sea and where he developed his independence and maturity. He is reported to have been a model Navy man, and that it was after his time in the service that he fully developed his disdain for what he called his family’s “values” of snobbery and pretension. He began acting in plays throughout the 1920s and began acting in film in the 1930s. While he enjoyed success playing a gangster in early films like the Petrified Forest (1936) and Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), his breakthrough as a leading man came with High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon (both in 1941).


He married Lauren Bacall in May of 1945. It was his fourth marriage, although it would be the first one that was happy and wherein he had children. They met on the set of To Have and To Have Not. Their real attraction to each other is clear on the screen and that makes this film particularly enjoyable for any Bogart or Bacall fan. Bacall warmly relates her love affair with Bogart, and says that there would never be a man who could match him for her, in her excellent autobiography entitled Lauren Bacall By Myself. To read more about Bacall, read my blog from September 9, 2010 of the title To Have and To Have Not:

The American Film Institute ranked Bogart as the greatest male star in the history of American Cinema. Enjoy the cinematic genius of Humphrey Bogart by checking out some of my favorite Bogey films in the OWL collection:


The Maltese Falcon (1941) helped establish Bogart as a leading man. An adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s novel, The Maltese Falcon contains much of the exact dialogue from the novel and stars Bogart as Detective Sam Spade trying to survive double-crosses to discover the murderer of his detective partner and the mystery of a jewel-encrusted falcon.

Casablanca (1942) cemented Bogart’s leading man status. Set during WWII, Bogart plays a man torn between love and virtue as he must choose to help the woman he loves and her Czech Resistance-leader husband escape from the Vichy-controlled Moroccan city of Casablanca.

To Have and To Have Not (1944) is the first Bogart and Bacall film. Set in 1940 inVichy France on the island of Martinique, Bogart plays a sea captain uninterested in getting involved but ultimately finding himself helping the French Resistance and developing a romance with Slim, an American wanderer who has also found herself on the island.

The Big Sleep (1946) continues the on-screen magic of Bogart and Bacall in an adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s novel. In this film noir, Bogart plays the Detective Philip Marlowe hired by a wealthy general who wants to resolve the gambling debts of his daughters.

Dark Passage (1947) stars Bogart and Bacall in another excellent film noir. Bogart plays Vincent Parry, a prison escapee framed for murder who emerges from plastic surgery with a new face.

Key Largo(1948) is the last work to pair Bogart and Bacall. In this film noir, Bogart plays an ex-GI who finds himself trapped, along with the hotel owner and his daughter, played by Bacall, when mobsters stay at the hotel in Key West during a hurricane.

Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948) is an adaptation of B. Traven’s novel that stays very true to the book and stars Bogart as one of three Americans in 1920s Mexico who join together to prospect for gold. Walter Huston’s Howard is an unforgettable character.

In a Lonely Place (1950) is another terrific film noir that you are unlikely to forget. Bogart plays a disgruntled yet successful writer who finds himself accused of murder.

The African Queen (1951) is the only film for which Bogart won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. In this adaptation of C.S. Forester’s novel set in German East Africa, Bogart plays a Canadian boat captain who helps save the life of a British Methodist Missionary, played by Katharine Hepburn, when war breaks out between Britain and Germany in 1914.


The Caine Mutiny (1954) finds Bogart playing Lt. Commander Queeg, the skipper of the minesweeper Caine, who, when involuntarily relieved of his command during a violent typhoon, brings his officers up on charges of conspiracy in the Caine Mutiny. Bogart was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance, and in my opinion, should have won it. Extraordinary acting in an extraordinary film.

Sabrina (1954) pairs Bogart with another film favorite of mine, Audrey Hepburn in a romantic comedy. Bogart plays Linus, an older workaholic brother whose crush on Sabrina, played by Hepburn, has been overlooked by her for all these years because she’s focused on the younger playboy brother played by William Holden.

~Ann Marie

Ann Marie is the Library Director for the Oliver Wolcott Library who just loves true love as that between Bogart and Bacall.

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