Romances that are forged in the spotlight rarely stand the test of time. That’s why the ever-lasting love between Bogart and Becall is all the more intriguing. Let’s find out how this Hollywood romance came to be.
From Model to Actress
Before finding her fame, Bacall was taking acting lessons at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC. During the same time, she was working as a theatre usher and a fashion model.
She had a pretty impressive run, especially for a teenager, and found herself on the cover of "Harper’s Bazaar" at the age of 18. The cover wound up catching the eye of a big-time producer’s wife, who convinced him to have her take a screen test for – you guessed it – "To Have and Have Not."
In 1942, Bogart starred in the wartime romantic epic "Casablanca." He played Rick Blaine, an American ex-pat who’s forced to make some tough decisions during the war. It's one of the most well-known roles of his career.
The film was an enormous success for all involved and won the Academy Award for Best Picture. It’s been seven decades since it was produced, but it still holds the title of the third most successful of all of Warner Bros' wartime movies.
The First Time
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall first worked together on a production called "To Have and Have Not" in the mid-1940s, when she was a fresh-faced leading lady, and he was a well-known star. They hit it off from the get-go and knew that they wanted to be together forever.
That’s just what they did the following year when they got hitched! After they tied the knot, they continued to thrive together, both personally and professionally.
A Big Age Difference
When the pair first met, Bacall was just 19 years old. She came from a background in modeling, and the 43-year-old actor couldn’t help but fall in love with her. But the serious gap in age didn’t exactly thrill everyone.
After all, Bogart had been born before the turn of the century, while Bacall didn’t enter the world until two and a half decades later. Both stars were born in the same area, in New York City. The age difference may have been a big talking point for tabloids, but they didn’t let it get to them.
A Deep Connection
Since the two first laid eyes on each other, there was no denying the deep connection Bogart and Bacall felt for one another.
“I never believed that I could love anyone again, for so many things happened in my life to me that I was afraid to love,” the actor wrote to Bacall when they first began their love journey.
Bacall would often gush about the pair's romance. “What it felt like to be so wanted, so adored,” she said in one report. “No one had ever felt like that about me. Always in the wee small hours when it seemed to Bogie and me that the world was ours, that we were the world. At those times, we were.”
They knew that marriage was inevitable, but they couldn’t have known how many years of bliss lay ahead of them.
The Wedding Venue
Over 75 years ago, Lauren Bacall walked down the aisle to marry the love of her life, Humphrey Bogart. The wedding was famous for a number of reasons, not just due to who was tying the knot, but also because of where they were doing it.
The ceremony took place in the home and farm of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield in rural Ohio. At that point, he was one of the most famous writers in the world, thanks to many pieces of his work being adapted into screenplays by Hollywood filmmakers.
Two Minds, One Love
These two had one of the strongest, longest-lasting relationships in Hollywood – and they did it while maintaining their own faiths. Rather than converting, Bacall maintained her Jewish faith, which she’d grown up with all of her life.
Humphrey chose to remain a Christian, which is the religion he’d been raised in. As far as the children go, the couple did opt to baptize them. But the actress said that she “felt totally Jewish and always would.” They never let their different beliefs stand between them or their children.
Just five years after the two first met, Lauren gave birth to the couple’s first child, a son, Stephen, in 1949. And, several years later, in 1952, his sister, Leslie, was born. The children grew up living the good life, rubbing elbows with stars from birth onwards.
They named their son after a character in the movie they’d met working on together, "To Have and Have Not." Stephen would go on to work as a news producer, author, and documentary filmmaker, while his sister, named after actor Leslie Howard, would become a nurse.
One may expect that life as a child of a movie star couple may be something like living in a different world. According to Stephen, it was no different than any other childhood. Of course, he can only speak from his experience, and the kids got to live a lavish lifestyle growing up.
He went on to say that he tried not to focus on his father’s profession. Regardless of the fact he spent a large majority of his childhood in the care of nannies, he still misses the relationship he had with his late father and says he thinks about him nearly every day.
After Humphrey's passing, Stephen dove back into the world of entertainment by launching the Humphrey Bogart Film Festival in honor of his late father. The event has been running for several years. But when asked about his relationship with Humphrey, and if there are times when he wishes he could ask for his advice, he had this to say...
“What I wonder most is what it would have been like to have a father around. Because fathers are different than mothers.” In the same interview with Mark Yost, he said that Bogart Sr “certainly wasn’t a bad dad, but I didn’t really know him.”
Her Mothering Style
Though their children spent a large portion of their time growing up with nannies while mom and dad were busy on set or on location, they still loved spending time with mom when they got the chance.
According to Stephen, she let him follow his own path and make his own decisions in life, adding, “She never told me what to do.” Rather than trying to convince him to stay in Hollywood and pursue a career in the industry, she encouraged him to spread his wings and find his own place in the world.
Bogart wasn't a hands-on father which meant he never changed his children's diapers or helped with mealtimes. Instead, he preferred to spend his time in the company of adults.
However, as his children grew older, Bogart would let them accompany him to restaurants. We wonder how enjoyable this was for the kids.
The couple’s children grew up leading a very privileged life, taking lavish family vacations to different parts of the world. This included spending plenty of time aboard and around Bogart’s boat, a large racing yacht he’d dubbed “The Santana.”
But Bacall wasn't particularly thrilled about all of the time the entertainer wanted to spend with his second love. “The only cause my husband, Humphrey Bogart, ever gave me to be jealous was not of a woman, but a boat,” she wrote about the vessel in her memoirs.
Keeping an Eye on the Competition
According to the couple’s son, Stephen, Bacall did her due diligence when it came to keeping an eye on her competition for major awards. Before each show, he said she’d sit down for a movie marathon and watch all of the pictures neatly in a row. Afterward, she’d place a vote of her own.
She loved to visit the movie theatre, as well as Broadway, which held a little piece of her heart. She’d always wanted to try her hand at stage acting, so she befriended several stage stars, including Richard Burton.
One of Bogart’s most well-known films is 1954’s "Sabrina," directed by Billy Wilder. The romantic comedy/drama stars Bogart along with the legendary Audrey Hepburn, who plays the title role in the movie.
It was number one at the U.S. box office for several weeks and was nominated for (as well as won) a number of big awards. Some of the nominations included the Oscar for Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay, among a number of others that year.
Although Bogart may have liked the finer things in life, like his wife and his racing yacht, and despite all of his success in Hollywood, he didn’t let his ego get out of control.
In fact, he was so modest that, when he would accept an award and have to give a speech, he would thank the writers first!
Growing up With the Hollywood Elite
When you’re raised from birth with a certain amount of wealth and comfort, you don’t really understand how truly lucky you are. Just like the saying, “you don’t really miss something until it’s gone”.
But Bogie and Bacall tried as much as possible to give their children a normal (albeit cushioned) life. Still, it was hard to escape when you grow up around Hollywood royalty like mom and dad, along with their friends, including Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland, just to name a few.
It wasn’t just Bogart who kept his ego in check. Bacall didn’t let her enormous amount of fame get to her head either. She, of course, appreciated the ability to live a certain lifestyle, but she tried not to show it off in a way that made others feel uncomfortable.
Plus, her fame sort of snowballed naturally, without her having to do much of a public dance and song to keep it going. Rather, her talent and work ethic spoke for her. But according to Bacall, if it were up to her mother, she’d be shouting about it from the rooftops.
With fame come many famous connections and friends. While Bogart enjoyed his own company he did make several star-studded friendships during his career in Hollywood.
His friend group included Frank Sinatra, Spencer Tracy, and Louis Bromfield. Imagine all that star power.
Like so many stars in Hollywood, Bogart and Bacall were too busy to spend a lot of time with their children. So, the kids were largely raised by nannies throughout the majority of their childhoods. “Babies were just not his thing,” Stephen said of his father.
But as the children grew older, their relationships with mom and dad strengthened. Still, his boat was taking him away on many of his weekends, which caused some tension within the family.
An Unhealthy Lifestyle
Perhaps Bogart would have lived long past the age of 57 and to see how successful his children would become had he not led such a notoriously unhealthy lifestyle.
Like many leading men of the time, he smoked heavily and drank regularly – which would eventually catch up to him. Just a few years after the couple celebrated their decade-long marriage, Bogart discovered just how severely his unhealthy habits had impacted his health. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and sadly passed away on January 14th, 1957.
A Star-Studded Service
Despite rumors of a love affair between Bacall and Frank Sinatra, Bogart remained Friends with Sinatra until the very end. The famous musician visited his fellow star and pal in the hospital right before his death.
Then, after his passing, a number of others showed up to pay their respects to their late friend and colleague. Katharine Hepburn is among the several other celebrities to show up to the funeral to say goodbye.
Funeral by the Thousands
It’s some people’s worst nightmare that no one will show up to their funeral in the end, but Humphrey Bogart didn’t have that to worry about, not by a long shot. Thousands of people, many of which were stars and public figures, arrived at the service. But not all of them were close to the actor.
His son, Stephen, who was eight at the time of his father’s death, later revealed that he didn’t recognize the majority of them.
Losing His Father
Stephen Bogart was still just a boy when he lost his father, and it was hard on him, as it was on the rest of his family. Bacall decided to relocate the family to New York City following the tragic event in ’57.
Her decision was based on the fact that her mother lived in the city, and she wanted her kids to be surrounded by other family members during this difficult time. But the change wasn’t welcomed by all, including Stephen, who was perfectly happy at his home in California.
To Have and Have Not
"To Have and Have Not" was an important film for Bogart and Bacall. It's the production that brought them together and subsequently intertwined their lives.
But that wasn’t the only memento the two held dear from the times. Bogart was buried with a small, gold whistle that was a part of a charm bracelet he’d given to the actress during their dating phase. Inscribed into the gold was a quote from the film, “If you want anything, just whistle."
The Humphrey Bogart Estate
The Humphrey Bogart Estate, which has a substantial following on social media (and over 51,000 followers on Twitter alone,) is led by Stephen. The estate works to honor his father’s legacy and keep his spirit and memory alive.
There are a number of ways they achieve this, which include selling Bogart Spirits, an array of beverages that feature the late actor's name, along with a fact or quip about him, all of which are made and bottled in California. His signature is also engraved into each bottle.
Stephen Disliked the Spotlight
There are a number of reasons why Stephen chose not to follow along in his mother or father’s footsteps and go into acting in films or on television. He admitted during an interview that one such reason was he didn’t believe he could do them justice and live up to their image and talent.
But another was simply that he wasn’t a fan of fame or all of the unwanted attention that came along with it. He also preferred to be around a more down-to-earth crowd, as opposed to those living lavishly in Hollywood.
A Heart of Gold
According to the couple’s daughter, Leslie, there was a very sweet, romantic side to her father that she got to witness on a number of occasions when he would gift her mother different types of jewelry and other items.
And, of course, whenever Bacall would be asked about their relationship, she would have nothing but lovely things to say. It wasn’t just random pieces of jewelry, either. They would be carefully thought out and engraved to make them feel more personal.
Although Leslie chose to live a life free of the spotlight, she did, at one point, want to be a model like her mother was when she was younger. In the late ‘60s, when she was 16 years old, Leslie appeared in a four-page spread for "Vogue."
In it, she can be seen sporting high-fashion wear, along with an under-the-brow look just like her mother’s signature.
The Yogi Life
Leslie has also decided to spend her life away from the spotlight as much as possible. She’s worked as both a nurse and yoga instructor and has been married to her husband, Erich Schiffman, since 1990.
Schiffman is also a yogi; in fact, he’s a renowned yoga master and author of the best-seller "Moving into Stillness." He’s also fairly well-known for a 1994 video he put out titled "Yoga Mind & Body," which features actress Ali MacGraw.
The Bogie Cult
After Bogart's death, the “Bogie Cult” was formed at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA, Greenwich Village, and France. This meant that, even though he’d recently passed on, his fame continued to grow around the globe.
Several decades after his death, "Entertainment Weekly" rated him the number-one movie legend in history. And just a couple of years later, the American Film Institute named him the greatest male screen legend.
A Second Marriage
The actress had been widowed for several years when she married Jason Robards in 1961. Robards, a fellow actor, proved to be pretty difficult for her to live with due to an out-of-control substance abuse problem.
Eventually, his habits led to the end of the nuptials, but not before the two had a son of their own. Sam Robards was born in 1961, the same year his parents tied the knot.
As with any human, Jason Robards may not have been perfect, but he tried his best when it came to the things in life that actually mattered, including maintaining a friendly relationship with his ex-wife’s children from her previous marriage.
Stephen Jr. reported later in life that the two would even play sports together at times, although he made sure to note that he never really thought of him as a father.
Since Bacall and Robards knew that their son Sam wanted to enter the world of entertainment, they supported him every step of the way.
After attending Sarah Lawrence College, he went to the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. In 1980, he acted in an off-Broadway production of "Album."
The Hollywood Gene
Sam couldn’t help but follow along in mom’s acting footsteps – it is in his blood, after all. He is perhaps most well-known for his part as Henry Swinton in the Stephen Spielberg film, "A.I Artificial Intelligence," though the actor has also appeared in a number of other major productions.
These include "Beautiful Girls," "American Beauty," "Sex and the City," "The Outer Limits," and "Gossip Girl." He has also made a name for himself on stage. In 2002, he earned a Tony nomination for Best Actor in the play "The Man Who Had All the Luck."
Acting for Life
Bacall’s career in Tinsel Town began in the 1940s and continued through the 2010s. Although the loss of her husband broke her heart, she didn’t let it stop her from continuing to pursue her (and her late husband’s) passion. Throughout those decades, she won and was nominated for an extensive number of prestigious awards.
In 2006, she was awarded the Bryn Mawr College Katharine Hepburn Medal, which is presented to “women whose lives, work, and contributions embody the intelligence, drive, and the independence of Hepburn.”
Like many people, as Bacall aged, she was less inclined to run around town and stayed in, for the most part. According to her son, she had a number of assistants around to help her out with anything, and her final years were pretty difficult for her, though she lived to the age of 89.
She chose to continue living at her apartment in Manhattan’s Upper Westside. The star passed away on the 12th of August, 2014 from a stroke just one month before her 90th birthday.
At the time of her passing, Bacall left behind an estate valued at around $26.6 million, which she split between all of her children.
One of the main instructions she gave to her heirs was to keep her private documents away from the public’s prying eyes. She also wanted to make sure her beloved pup, Sophie the Papillon, was well taken care of by her family. So, she included an extra $10,000 so her son would keep her as a pet.
Stephen and his mother were always very close, which made her death all the more difficult for him to handle.
Unfortunately, Becall passed away a mere 4 months before she could see her son marry his third wife Carla Soviero.
Since Bogart passed away when Stephen was still pretty young, there were many things he hadn’t gotten to know about his father. Like many people in the world – though, people who weren’t closely related to him – Stephen learned bit by bit about his father through all of his productions.
He wrote about the journey to discovery in his book, "Bogart: In Search of My Father". What he found was that he actually had a lot of similarities with his dad, including the fact he preferred to spend time alone.
The Baldwin Connection
As it turns out, another major family in Hollywood descends from Humphrey Bogart’s family, who themselves descended from John Howland, a passenger of the Mayflower. Howland, who was traveling wearily as an indentured servant, fell overboard and nearly drowned.
But amazingly, he was rescued before the sea swallowed him. And it’s a very good thing he was, because the world may be a very different place had he not survived. The Baldwin family are also descendants of Mr. Howland. Talk about a small world.
Stephen and Carla's Wedding
Stephen and his current wife, Carla Soviero, first met back in 1982 when they were working as producers for the Satellite News Channel. They got close (as friends) working together, but Stephen was married to another woman at the time, so they kept things classy.
They finally tied the knot on November 15 that the Skylark in New York in a short, sweet ceremony. The story of how they finally ended up in each other's arms is quite sweet!
She was living in Naples, Florida when he decided to take a trip out there to visit her in 2009. When he saw her, he said, “it was like, wow, we’ve known each other all these years, and once we started talking, we were right back to where we were. It was a very strange calm.”
But the two didn’t get too serious right away. Rather, Stephen went back to his typical life after the vacation, as did Soviero. They were both dealing with divorces, which came with their own baggage and complications. But then, they wanted something more.
So, she invited him to come and live with her in Naples. His response? “Now’s the time. What are we waiting for? I’m moving in.” And he’s lived there ever since. The two discovered that they share a mutual love of golf, which keeps them busy in their free time.
One of the many aspects of the Humphrey Bogart Estate, run by the couple’s son, is Santana Films — the film production company launched by Bogie himself in 1948.
On the company’s website, they say it is “guided by Bogie’s intrepid and passionate spirit” and a “filmmaker-driven company striving to create entertaining films for audiences that appreciate a focus on well-told stories and great acting.” Some movies they’ve put out include "The White Orchid" and "This Last Lonely Place."
The Film Festival
Another tribute to Bogart that the Humphrey Bogart Estate produced is a special film festival. The event was hosted in Key Largo, Florida, and ran for five years in a row between 2013 and 2017.
However, they don’t currently have any news about any upcoming events. If you’re interested in staying up to date with when and where the next festival will take place, you can sign up for the mailing list on the estate’s website.
Alive on Social Media
The Estate works to keep Bogart’s spirit alive in a number of ways, including maintaining an active presence on social media. On Facebook, the organization boasts over 500,000 followers, where they post fun facts and history quips about the actor and other greats of the time.
One such quip from early 2020 was a reminder that Bogie and Katharine Hepburn, who co-starred in "The African Queen," were named the greatest male and female screen legends in film history.
Bogart on Movies
Stephen hosts a local television show called "Bogart on Movies," in which he talks to viewers about all sorts of films, from the classics to new movies that are just coming out in theatres.
He’s created three episodes of the show so far, which are presented by WXEL.