When Lauren Bacall Met Humphrey Bogart, A Movie Legend Had One Dire Warning For The Young Actress

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Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart shared one of the most romantic love affairs of Hollywood’s golden age. But not everyone expected them to last the course. Here’s a look at how one particularly jealous director tried to warn the young actress that she was making a big mistake.

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Born in The Bronx, New York, in 1924, Lauren Bacall first caught attention as a model. She then moved into acting with a leading role in 1944’s To Have and Have Not. She subsequently became a staple of both the film noir and romantic comedy genre. Some of her biggest early hits include Dark Passage, How to Marry a Millionaire and Designing Woman.

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Bacall remained just as in-demand throughout the latter part of the 20th century. She was personally selected by John Wayne to co-star in 1976’s The Shootist. She won Tony Awards for 1970’s Applause and 1981’s Woman of the Year. And she bagged a Golden Globe for 1996’s The Mirror Has Two Faces, missing out on an Oscar for the same performance to Juliette Binoche.

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Born in New York City in 1899, Humphrey Bogart started his showbiz career in the aftermath of WWI on the Broadway stage. He then began to pursue a film career in the late 1920s. His big break arrived in the early 1940s when he took the leading roles in The Maltese Falcon and High Sierra.

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Bogart picked up two Oscar nominations in the ’40s for his performances in The Caine Mutiny and Casablanca. He finally got the chance to make an acceptance speech when he was crowned Best Actor for 1951’s The African Queen. By this point, Bogart had established himself as a bona fide Hollywood legend.

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Of course, both Bogart and Bacall owe some of their success to each other. The pair became one of the most bankable on-screen couples in the 1940s, thanks to films such as The Big Sleep, Dark Passage and Key Largo. And the pair didn’t waste any time in making their professional relationship a personal one too.

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Indeed, the pair were drawn to each other from the moment they first met on the set of 1944’s To Have and Have Not. Bogart reportedly told Bacall, then a fledgling actress 25 years his junior, “I just saw your test. We’ll have a lot of fun together.” The only problem was that Bogart was still married.

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A year later, the pair shared the screen together again in the adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s novel, The Big Sleep. But this time around the atmosphere during filming was filled with tension. Bogart was apparently struggling to deal with his feelings for both Bacall and his third wife, Mayo Methot, whom he’d married seven years previously.

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And Bogart’s inner turmoil wasn’t the only thing to throw a spanner in the works in his relationship with Bacall. To Have and Have Not director Howard Hawks had initially been supportive of the pair’s obvious chemistry during filming. However, jealous of a new man taking over his self-appointed role of Bacall’s mentor and protector, he soon began making things difficult.

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Hawks told Bacall that despite behavior to the contrary, Bogart actually didn’t care for her at all. In a particularly bitter move, he also threatened to banish Bacall to Monogram, which at the time was considered one of Hollywood’s least accomplished film studios. Unsurprisingly, Bogart became enraged after learning of Hawks’ comments and reportedly went after the director.

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“Bogie fell in love with the character she played, so she had to keep playing it the rest of her life.” That’s what Hawks reportedly said about the Hollywood power couple’s relationship. And there’s another reason why Hawks was so disapproving. He was allegedly also in love with Bacall himself.

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Yet despite this bad blood, Hawks, Bacall and Bogart still agreed to work together again for a second movie, The Big Sleep. After the latter had divorced Methot later that same year, he and Bacall got hitched at an intimate ceremony held at Pulitzer Prize-winning friend Louis Bromfield’s Ohio home. But the couple still faced disharmony from various members of their inner circle.

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Indeed, several of Bacall’s friends allegedly tried to persuade her to call the wedding off. Her mother also wasn’t a fan of Bogart, describing the Hollywood icon as an “elderly alcoholic.” However, all the naysayers appeared to make the couple even more determined to make their relationship work.

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After getting married, the couple bought a white brick mansion in Holmby Hills, an exclusive Los Angeles neighborhood, for $160,000. They also continued to work together on screen. First there was 1947 suspense movie Dark Passage and then there was the John Huston-directed classic, Key Largo.

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And in 1949 they became parents for the first time when Bacall gave birth to son Stephen. The couple chose the moniker after the nickname of Bogart’s character in their first film together, To Have and Have Not. Three years later, their family unit was completed with the arrival of daughter Leslie, named after Bogart’s buddy and co-star, Leslie Howard.

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Although Key Largo proved to be their last film together, Bacall and Bogart still shared the small screen from time to time. They appeared on Person to Person and NBC’s The Petrified Forest and both worked on radio series Bold Venture. They actually did plan to co-star in another movie, Melville Goodwin, U.S.A., but sadly Bogart’s ailing health forced them to drop the project.

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Indeed, after a life of heavy drinking and heavy smoking, Bogart was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 1956. Sadly, despite several bouts of surgery, the disease spread and by the end of the year he was unable to walk up and down the stairs. Bogart passed away aged 57 just one day after slipping into a coma in January 1957.

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After a star-studded funeral service, Bogart’s remains were buried at California’s Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery. They were interred with a tiny gold whistle Bogart had gifted to Bacall during their courtship. The whistle was inscribed with a line from their first film together, “If you want anything, just whistle.”

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Bacall later entered into a relationship with Frank Sinatra before marrying second husband Jason Robards in the summer of 1961. Bacall gave birth to their first and her third child, Sam, later that same year. But sadly, no longer able to cope with Robards’ alcoholism, Bacall filed for divorce in 1969.

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Bacall passed away from a massive stroke shortly before her 90th birthday at her Manhattan home in 2014. Her remains were buried in the same park as Bogart. Looking back on her life in an interview in 1996, Bacall declared how lucky she was to have had such a loving first marriage, one that even her nearest and dearest had believed wouldn’t stand the test of time.

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