5 TRUE FACTS FROM THE GOLDEN AGE OF HOLLYWOOD: HUMPHREY BOGART

HOLLYWOOD: The Studio Exec presents 5 True Facts from the Golden Age of Hollywood: 1. Humphrey Bogart.

The Golden Ages of Hollywood started at the beginning of the last century and closed in 2009, with the release of Paul Blart Mall Cop. In this new series, the Studio Exec will release five FACTS you never knew about a Hollywood legend. Cut out and collect the whole series to keep in a glossy album with laminated covers. This week:

Humphrey Bogart

Fact 1: Humphrey Bogart was the last actor to win an Oscar who was born in the Nineteenth Century. Bogart was born Humphrey DeForest Bogart on Christmas Day in 1899. He won the Best Actor Oscar for his role in John Huston’s The African Queen in 1951 after having been nominated for Casablanca, but not winning. He would also be nominated for The Caine Mutiny but would again not win.

Fact 2: Bogart began acting on the New York stage where he first made a name for himself playing hooray Henry roles in light comedies with titles like The Dancing Town and Cradle Snatchers. The line ‘Tennis, anyone?’ was made famous by Bogart, according to legend. It was a far cry from his later roles as a tough guy. But it wasn’t the movies which created the role but once more the theater. Having been in some risible films, Bogart returned to the theater in 1936 and made his breakthrough as the ruthless killer Duke Mantee in Robert Sherwood’s The Petrified Forest.

Fact 3: Almost his whole career, Bogart can thank George Raft for his unerring lack of taste when it came to choosing projects. High Sierra, Raft turned down. For The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca, Bogart was often not only not the first choice but way down the list. His willingness to pick up projects and his hardworking ethic however saw him star in a series of hit films. But even for Sabrina Fair, with Bogie already a big star, he was still second pick after Cary Grant turned down the role.

Fact 4: Bogart was the original Rat Pack, which Lauren Bacall named. Bogie and Bacall became one of the most iconic romantic partnerships of Hollywood history. They starred in three movies together and a TV version of The Petrified Forest.  They were also the center of a social circle that Bacall dubbed the Rat Pack, which Frank Sinatra would popularize with a series of movies. Sinatra’s worship of Bogart probably had something to do with his pursuit of Bacall following Bogart’s death. This would even lead to a marriage proposal which never came off in the end.

Fact 5: Bogart was plagued by health problems. He had a bad back, drank too much and smoked way too much. During the filming of Beat the Devil – a follow up to The Maltese Falcon – scripted by Truman Capote and directed by John Huston, Bogart had a car accident and knocked some teeth out. Unable to use the audio, Peter Sellers dubbed all of Bogart’s role. After his diagnosis with cancer, Bogart ended up too weak to walk and had the dumb waiter in his house modified so it could carry him downstairs where he could meet well-wishers such as Frank Sinatra and Spencer Tracey.

For more FACTS click here.

SIR EDWIN FLUFFER REMEMBERS KING KONG

HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall King Kong.

After Hedda Hopper every actor’s worst enemy is typecasting. 

I lost count of the number of friends who enjoyed a big hit only to see their careers go straight down the lavatory never to work again. Just look at King Kong.  Don’t get me wrong, he thoroughly enjoyed all the trappings of his success, the mansion house, the fast car, the women, but deep down I think he would’ve swapped the lot for another shot at the big time. 
We all tried our hardest for him, but nothing seemed to work out. Chuck Laughton managed to wangle him a few days on Mutiny on the Bounty, but King got seasick and it affected him quite badly. He kept climbing to the top of the mast and swatting at the seagulls as they flew past and in the end they had to let him go. 

It was a similar story on Casablanca. Every time Bogie tried to say goodbye to Ingrid Bergman at the airport King would run in, pick her up, and start attacking the plane. For me his finest performance will always be when he played Rod Steiger in In The Heat Of The Night. The Academy Award was the industry’s way of saying thank you for trying, but by then his best years were behind him. He saw out his last days on the golf course with Bing Crosby, and although there was some talk of an album of duets I don’t believe that anything ever came of it. He read for the Cookie Monster on Sesame Street and roles like that, but by then he’d got mixed up with the Scientologists and there was a furious row with Big Bird about his addiction to prescription painkillers. 
But that’s another story…

HIDDEN GEMS: 5. CASABLANCA

Hidden Gems is a series bringing to light little known filmic gems and rarities that have somehow managed to slip through the collective cinematic consciousness. You’re welcome. This week Casablanca.

Everyone knows Everybody Comes to Rick’s, the hit off Broadway play about a bunch of refugees looking for a way out of a Moroccan city during World War 2. What you might not know is that it was made into a film – called Casablanca –  and although no patch on the original play – it’s not at all bad.

Comedy Irish actor Humphrey Bogart takes the role of Rick on and Ingrid (not Ingmar) Bergman plays Ilsa, his beautiful long lost love and the woman who broke his heart, but has now turned up in his bar looking for an escape route to America with her fugitive freedom fighting husband, Victor somebody.

Many fans of the play might be shocked by some of the liberties Hollywood took with the material, but still you have to admit making the Nazis into the villains of the piece was a bold move, as was killing off the main hero Ugarte (played here by Peter Lorre) so early on in the story. Ultimately, Casablanca can be no more than a curiosity piece that would have been consigned to oblivion if it wasn’t for the interest that Everybody Comes to Rick’s completists have in it. If you can dig up a VHS, it is well worth a gander though most agree the David Soul TV series of 1983 was far superior.

For more Hidden Gems CLICK HERE.

FLUFFER’S FAMILY SNAPS: PART 2

Put it away Neddy!
Shortly before filming this scene for Sunset Boulevard poor Gloria Swanson lost her dentures in Arizona’s worst recorded yachting accident. I lent her my upper set and luckily they were a perfect fit!





You must remember this…
Here I am in Rick’s Café listening to Dooley Wilson sing As Time Goes By. This was actually the second take, the first was ruined when poor old Dooley sat on the thumb tack I’d put on his piano stool. He may not look very amused, but Bogie thought it was hilarious!



On your marks…
Every morning on Lawrence of Arabia we’d mount our horses, and as soon as the pubs opened at 11 Peter O’Toole would shout ‘charge’! The last one to the bar paid a forfeit which usually involved a fairly unwilling camel.



He’s behind you!

You can imagine my embarrassment at being involved in Spartacus, which surely must be one of the worst movies of all time. I told Kubrick he was making a huge mistake not telling the audience who really was Spartacus, and history has proved me right.