Monday, January 14, 2013

Humphrey Bogart Dies in Holmby Hills Mansion 1957


Humphrey DeForest Bogart (December 25, 1899 – January 14, 1957) was an American actor. He is widely regarded as a cultural icon. The American Film Institute ranked Bogart as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema.


After trying various jobs, Bogart began acting in 1921 and became a regular in Broadway productions in the 1920s and 1930s. When the stock market crash of 1929 reduced the demand for plays, Bogart turned to film. His first great success was as Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest (1936), and this led to a period of typecasting as a gangster with films such as Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) and B-movies like The Return of Doctor X (1939).


His breakthrough as a leading man came in 1941, with High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon. The next year, his performance in Casablanca raised him to the peak of his profession and, at the same time, cemented his trademark film persona, that of the hard-boiled cynic who ultimately shows his noble side. Other successes followed, including To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947) and Key Largo (1948), with his wife Lauren Bacall; The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948); The African Queen (1951), for which he won his only Academy Award; Sabrina (1954) and The Caine Mutiny (1954). His last movie was The Harder They Fall (1956). During a film career of almost thirty years, he appeared in 75 feature films.


Death

By the mid-1950s, Bogart's health was failing. Once, after signing a long-term deal with Warner Bros., Bogart predicted with glee that his teeth and hair would fall out before the contract ended. That sent a fuming Jack Warner to his lawyers. Bogart had formed a new production company and had plans for a new film Melville Goodwin, U.S.A., in which he would play a general and Bacall a press magnate. His persistent cough and difficulty eating became too serious to ignore and he dropped the project. The film was re-named Top Secret Affair and made with Kirk Douglas and Susan Hayward.


Bogart, a heavy smoker and drinker, contracted cancer of the esophagus. He almost never spoke of his failing health and refused to see a doctor until January 1956. A diagnosis was made several weeks later and by then removal of his esophagus, two lymph nodes and a rib on March 1, 1956 was too late to halt the disease, even with chemotherapy. He underwent corrective surgery in November 1956 after the cancer had spread.

Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy came to see him. Frank Sinatra was also a frequent visitor. Bogart was too weak to walk up and down stairs. He valiantly fought the pain and tried to joke about his immobility: "Put me in the dumbwaiter and I'll ride down to the first floor in style." Which is what happened; the dumbwaiter was altered to accommodate his wheelchair. Hepburn, in an interview, described the last time she and Spencer Tracy saw Bogart (the night before he died):

'Spence patted him on the shoulder and said, "Goodnight, Bogie." Bogie turned his eyes to Spence very quietly and with a sweet smile covered Spence's hand with his own and said, "Goodbye, Spence." Spence's heart stood still. He understood.'

Bogart had just turned 57 and weighed 80 pounds (36 kg) when he died on January 14, 1957 after falling into a coma. He died at 2:25 a.m. at his home at 232 Mapleton Drive in Holmby Hills, California. His simple funeral was held at All Saints Episcopal Church with musical selections played from Bogart's favorite composers, Johann Sebastian Bach and Claude Debussy. It was attended by some of Hollywood's biggest stars including: Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, David Niven, Ronald Reagan, James Mason, Danny Kaye, Joan Fontaine, Marlene Dietrich, Errol Flynn, Gregory Peck and Gary Cooper, as well as Billy Wilder and Jack Warner. Bacall had asked Spencer Tracy to give the eulogy, but Tracy was too upset, so John Huston gave the eulogy instead, and reminded the gathered mourners that while Bogart's life had ended far too soon, it had been a rich one.

Bogie's Mansion in Holmby Hills
Bogie's Mansion in Holmby Hills
Bogie's Mansion in Holmby Hills

'Himself, he never took too seriously—his work most seriously. He regarded the somewhat gaudy figure of Bogart, the star, with an amused cynicism; Bogart, the actor, he held in deep respect...In each of the fountains at Versailles there is a pike which keeps all the carp active; otherwise they would grow overfat and die. Bogie took rare delight in performing a similar duty in the fountains of Hollywood. Yet his victims seldom bore him any malice, and when they did, not for long. His shafts were fashioned only to stick into the outer layer of complacency, and not to penetrate through to the regions of the spirit where real injuries are done...He is quite irreplaceable. There will never be another like him."

His cremated remains are interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Glendale, California. Buried with him is a small gold whistle, which he had given to his future wife, Lauren Bacall, before they married. In reference to their first movie together, it was inscribed: "If you want anything, just whistle."



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