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Authors: Stephen Humphrey Bogart

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BOOK: Bogart
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Mrs. Bogart was known by everybody, including her kids,
as simply Maud.

Bogie once said of his mother, “It was always easier for
my two sisters and me to call her ‘Maud’ than ‘Mother.’
‘Mother’ was somehow sentimental. ‘Maud’ was direct and
impersonal, businesslike. She loved work, to the exclusion of everything else. I doubt that she read very much. I know that
she never played any games. She went to no parties, gave
none. Actually I can’t remember that she even had a friend
until she was a very old woman, and then she had only one.
She had a few acquaintances who were mostly male artists,
and she knew the people in her office well. But she never
had a confidante, never was truly intimate with anyone and,
I am certain, never wanted to be.”

In the early 1900s, Bogie’s parents were not super-rich,
like the so-called robber barons of the time, but Dr. Bo
gart’s practice raked in twenty thousand dollars a year, which
was added to an inheritance he’d gotten from my great-grandfather, who had invented a kind of lithographing pro
cess. And Maud, who was in charge of all artistic work for
The Delineator
magazine, was one of the highest-paid illustrators in
the country. So there was no danger of the Bogarts running
out of oats. The family, which included my dad’s two sisters, Frances and Catherine, lived comfortably in a four-story lime
stone house on 103rd Street and West End Avenue, near Riv
erside Drive in New York, which is where a lot of fat cats of
the time lived.

Like me, my father grew up in a world of fine furniture,
expensive rugs, polished silver, servants, celebrities, and mod
ern conveniences, which in his case meant that the Bogarts
had a gramophone and a telephone.

If Bogie had a childhood that was materially secure, I
don’t think it was emotionally satisfying. For one thing, his
mother and father did not get along well. “My parents
fought,” Bogie once said. “We kids would pull the covers over
our ears to keep out the sound of fighting. Our home was
kept together for the sake of the children as well as for the
sake of propriety.”

His mother, who was plagued by migraine headaches, used to work at her office all day, then at night she’d put in
many more hours in her upstairs studio. Maud was not one to let motherhood interfere with her work. Bogie was, of
course, well taken care of by his Irish nurse. But I was taken
care of by nurses, too, so I think I know something of what
he might have felt. I think he was probably a lonely kid much
of the time.

When Bogie’s mother did take charge of him, she often
took him to the park in his high-wheeled carriage. It was there
one day that she sketched the first likeness of Humphrey
Bogart. Maud’s sketch of her baby was bought by Mellins Baby
Food Company, and, before he could even talk, my father be
came famous as the “Original Maud Humphrey Baby.” In fact,
he was the most famous baby in the world. The watercolor
drawings, with lines so fine that they looked like etchings,
were published in magazines and books. They were even
framed and sold as individual portraits. In these drawings my father has long curls and he’s ridiculously overdressed, which
was the stylish thing to do with babies back then.

When Humphrey got pneumonia, Maud got it into her
head that he was a sickly child. “He is manly,” she once wrote
of the future tough guy, “but too delicate in health.” That’s
about as weepy as Maud got over her son. The fact is that
Maud Humphrey was not exactly a candidate for Mom of
the Year.

“I was brought up very unsentimentally, but very straight
forward,” my father once said. “A kiss in our family was an
event. Our mother and father didn’t fawn over my two sisters
and me. They had too many things to do, and so did we. Any
way, we were mainly the responsibility of the servants.”

He once told a
reporter, “I can’t say that I loved my
mother. I admired her and respected her. Ours was not the
kind of affection that spills over or makes pretty pictures. If,
when I was grown up, I sent my mother one of those Moth
er’s Day telegrams or said it with flowers, she would have re
turned the wire and flowers to me collect.”

Some of Bogie’s friends have told me that this “I never
loved my mother” business is a polite understatement—that,
in fact, he could not stand her. Nevertheless, he did take care
of her in her declining years, and she was living with him
and his third wife when she died of cancer at the age of

Maud, according to my father, was totally incapable of
showing affection. “This might have stemmed from shyness,”
he said, “from a fear of being considered weak.” Her ca
ress, he said, was like a blow. “She clapped you on the shoul
der, almost the way a man does. When she was proud of you
there was no running down the stairs with arms outstretched,
no ‘My darling son.’ Only, ‘Good job, Humphrey,’ or some
thing like that.”

My father’s relationship with his father, while far from
perfect, seems to have been less disappointing. Dr. Bogart liked to fish, hunt, and sail a hell of a lot more than he liked to poke around in people’s abdomens with surgical instru
ments. This sometimes led to friction between himself and
Maud, but it was good for father and son. Dr. Bogart loved the open air and he often took young Humphrey with him.
Though Bogie would grow up having no stomach for the kill
ing of animals (“Went fishing for ten years,” he said in his
pithy way. “Didn’t catch anything.”), his love of sailing was an
abiding one and it was the love of his life. Except for Bacall, of course.

Still, despite what they shared, few words of affection
passed between my father and his father before September of
1934. It was then that my father was playing chess for a dollar
a game at a chess parlor on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan,
when he got word that his father was dying. He rushed home.
Two days later Dr. Bogart passed away in Bogie’s arms.

“It was only in that moment that I realized how much I
really loved him and needed him and that I had never told
him,” Bogie said later. “Just before he died I said, ‘I love you,
Father.’ He heard me, because he looked at me and smiled.
Then he died. He was a real gentleman. I was always sorry he
couldn’t have lived long enough to see me make some kind
of success.”

My own regrets about my father’s death are somewhat differ
ent than that. I don’t think much about whether or not I
said, “I love you, Father.” If I never used those words I cer
tainly showed my love in the ways a small child does, by
climbing on his lap, by coming to him for good-night hugs
and kisses, and by calling him such charming pet names as
“blubberhead,” and “slob.” No, my regrets have less to do
with how I felt about him, and more with how he felt about
me. I regret that he didn’t spend as much time with me as I
would have liked, and that he died when it seemed that he
was just starting to get the hang of this fatherhood thing. I
wasn’t always sure of it, but I am sure now that if my father
had lived a full life we would have had the kind of relation
ship that fathers and sons dream of.

But, as it is, I still have a few memories. One of them
concerns Romanoff’s restaurant. Though my father had gone
to Africa to make
The African Queen,
and Italy to make
Beat the Devil,
he generally stayed around Hollywood. And when
he wasn’t working he was often schmoozing at Roman
off’s restaurant.

Phil Gersh, who was a partner of Sam Jaffe, remembers my father’s Romanoff’s days well.

“I’d meet your father at Romanoff’s,” Gersh says. “Bogie
always had the same lunch. Two scotch and sodas, French
toast, and a brandy. He never looked at a menu. And he
never carried money. He’d say ‘Phil, have you got a dollar for
the valet kid?’”

Actually, my father stuck people with more than just the valet’s tip money. It was a running gag for him to see how of
ten he could con somebody else into paying the bill.

Mike Romanoff, who owned the restaurant, was a close
friend of my father. He was known as Prince Michael. As far
as anybody knows, no drop of royal blood ever flowed
through Mike Romanoff’s veins, but for years he insisted he
was Prince Michael Alexandrovitch Dmitri Obolensky Ro
manoff, a nephew of Russian Czar Nicholas Romanoff. Phony
rince or not, Mike was much loved by the Hollywood
crowd. He was a guy Hollywood turned to for advice, a regu
lar Ann Landers, and his restaurant was a famous watering
hole for movers and shakers. Mike was also one of the few
people who could beat my father at chess. It was Mike
Romanoff who summed up my father about as well as any
body could in one sentence. He said, “Bogart is a first-class
person with an obsessive compulsion to behave like a second-class person.”

My father had his own reserved table at Romanoff’s. I re
member it well. It was the second booth to the left from the
entry way. There Bogie would eat his lunch, drink his scotch,
and shoot the breeze with some of the best-known people in
the world.

One day, when I was seven, Bogie decided that I should
join the world of men. That is, I should be taken to
Romanoff’s restaurant and shown off. On this day he wanted
to be Daddy. That morning my mother dressed me up in new
long trousers and a spiffy new shirt, then she brought me up
to the bedroom to be inspected by the man himself.

My father, wearing gray flannels, a black cashmere
jacket, and a checked bow tie, looked long and hard at me.
“You look good, kid,” he said. Then off we went, me and Bo
gie, in the Jaguar.

Romanoff’s was in Beverly Hills. Dad and I arrived in
the Jag at 12:30, my father’s usual time. When we pulled in,
the valet took the car and we were led immediately to Bogie’s
regular booth. Dad waved to a few of the many Hollywood
notables who were already dining, and I’m sure most of them thought it adorable that he had his little Stevie with him. We
sat in the booth and Mike Romanoff came over to greet us.

“Good afternoon, your royal highness,” my father said.
His usual greeting to Mike.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Bogart,” Mike said, in his carefully
cultivated Oxford accent. “Are you going to be paying your
bill today? I thought that might be a pleasant change.”

“Are you going to be putting any alcohol in your
overpriced drinks?” Bogie asked. “That also would be a
nice change.”

“You won’t be needing a necktie today?” Romanoff said.


Romanoff, you see, had a jacket and tie policy at the res
taurant, and he always made Dad wear a tie. One time my father had baited Mike by showing up with a bow tie that was
one inch wide and sat on a pin.

“I see you’ve brought your grandson,” Mike said.

Mike liked to rib my father about his age. Bogie was a
quarter of a century older than Bacall, so when my mother
was with Bogie at the restaurant, Mike would say to her, “I
see you are still dating the same aging actor.”

It went on like that for a while. I guess it always went on
like that for a while. My strongest memories of that day are
the feel of the green leather upholstery of the booth, the
taste of creamed spinach, a specialty of the house which I loved, and the steady parade of grown-ups, which I wasn’t
crazy about.

I don’t know everyone who came by to talk on that par
ticular day. But this schmoozing at Romanoff’s was a ritual. It
was common for David Niven to stop by at my father’s booth
and visit, and for Judy Garland and Sid Luft, and Richard
Brooks. And sometimes Spencer Tracy. I’m sure that Swifty
Lazar came by on this particular day. Swifty, whose real name
was Irving, got his nickname from my father after making
three big deals in one day. He died only a few years ago. In fact, the 1987 Chrysler half-wagon which I drive today is one
I bought from Swifty. He was known as the first Hollywood
superagent, but he was not my father’s agent; he was his
friend. Swifty was a small man, with a face like a cherub’s, but
built as solidly as a fire hydrant. And he was one of the
dandiest dressers in Hollywood history. He was once de
scribed by my godfather, writer Quentin Reynolds, as “a
new kind of beach toy turned out by an expensive sporting goods store.”

BOOK: Bogart
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