Born on December 25, 1899, Humphrey DeForest Bogart was the son of a doctor and a portrait artist. The family was well-to-do with a permanent home near New York City, and a holiday retreat on Canandaigua Lake.

At their summer home Bogart learned how to play chess and sail, two activities that he would enjoy for the rest of his life.

In May 1918, Bogart enlisted in the Navy. It was here that he got the famous scar that marked the right corner of his upper lip - a Navy prisoner, who Bogart was escorting, asked for a cigarette. When he reached for a match, the man hit Bogart across the mouth with his handcuffs and fled. Bogart's lip was badly injured, but he chased after and caught the man, and had no treatment until the prisoner was securely locked up - the scar was already set.

Bogart began his career in the theatre in 1920 becoming a company manager, in charge of a touring play called "The Ruined Lady", he was soon she given a line to read and while critics weren't impressed, it didn't matter. Bogart was determined to become an actor.

In 1926 he married actress Helen Menken, but the marriage lasted less than a year. In 1928 he married for a second time, to another actress, Mary Phillips.

Bogart's breakthrough role came in 1934 when he got a part in Robert Sherwood's play "The Petrified Forest" playing Duke Mantee, an escaped killer, a far cry from the romantic roles he had played up till then.

It is recorded that, when Bogart walked on stage, there was an audible gasp from the audience. Without even speaking, his whole demeanour convinced that he was a killer. He was so impressive that Warner Brothers retained him for the movie in 1936. From then on he was flooded with gangster roles, all of which he played flawlessly.

Shortly after the movie of the Petrified Forest, Bogart's marriage to Mary fell apart, and a third marriage to Mayo Methot followed in 1938. It was a stormy relationship, the pair were known as "The battling Bogarts".

Looking for variety and a chance to demonstrate his versatility, Bogart took the leading role in The Maltese Falcon. His performance as private eye Sam Spade, an mix of cunning, sexuality and honour, again stunned audiences.

The timing of this redefinition of his career was perfect -- it was just in time for the casting of the romantic war drama, Casablanca. Cast with the beautiful Ingrid Bergman, The result was a movie that is still considered one of the best films ever made.

A year later, Warner Brothers paired Bogart with Lauren Bacall, in a screenplay of Ernest Hemingway's "To Have and Have Not". The attraction between them was apparent both on and off set, and Bogart and Mayo were divorced in 1945. He and Bacall married on May 21, just 11 days after the divorce. They had two children, Stephen and Leslie.

In 1951 came another highlight in his career when "The African Queen" with Katharine Hepburn. He won an Academy Award for Best Actor, beating out Marlon Brando's nomination for A Streetcar Named Desire. Yet more successful films followed.

In 1957, Bogart died of cancer.


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