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The Life and Times of Humphrey Bogart

Updated on May 15, 2013

Humphrey Bogart Up Close and Personal

Early Life

Born in New York City on Christmas Day, Bogart was the eldest child of Maud Humphrey and Doctor Belmont DeForest. His father was of Dutch descent and was English Presbyterian and his mother was of English Episcopalian descent. Raised in the faith that was Episcopalian, he still decided on his own path. What was controversial was his birthday since others believe he was really born on the twenty-third of January and was fictitiously born on Christmas to help the star become romanticised. Although there had been no birth certificate found rendering these assumptions to have no base, his notice of birth did appear to be sometime in December.

Having lived in a fashionable apartment in the upper West Side, Bogart’s mother was a successful illustrator who drew Humphrey, her baby for the Mellins Baby Food popular ad campaign. She was a militant suffragette but as an illustrator made a vast sum of money at fifty thousand dollars each year which was more than the twenty-thousand per year her cardiopulmonary surgeon husband made. The family also had a 55-acre estate and elegant cottage in Canandaigua Lake in upstate New York. As Humphrey grew up he and his friends would put on theater shows at the lake.


Humphrey is the eldest of 3 children with 2 sisters who are younger including Catherine Elizabeth and Frances. He had busy, formal parents who fought frequently which resulted in scant attention for the kids. As a child, Humphrey was teased for his name, his neatness, his curls and the illustrations his mother made of him. He inherited tendencies from his father such as his attraction for women with strong wills, his love of boating, a fondness to fish and for needling people.


American actor Humphrey DeForest Bogart was regarded widely as a cultural icon of America. He was ranked as the male greatest star in American cinema history by the American Film Institute in nineteen ninety-nine. After trying out many job varieties, he started acting in the year nineteen twenty-one and became a Broadway production regular in the twenties and thirties. When the demand for plays was reduced in the 1929 stock market crash, he became an actor for films. The Petrified Forest by Duke Mantee was his first great success which lead to a type cast period as a gangster character for films such as The Return of Doctor X or Angels with Dirty Faces. His break through playing the lead came with The Maltese Falcon and High Sierra in nineteen forty one. His Casablanca performance the year after brought him to his profession’s peak and caused his film persona trade mark to become cemented as a noble side hidden behind a cynic that was hard boiled. Successes also include The African Queen, In a Lonely Place, The Treasure of Sierra Madre, The Key Largo, Dark Passage and The Big Sleep. The Harder They Fall was his last movie and in thirty years of his career in films, he was seen in seventy-five film features.


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