Writer Stephen Bogart was only 2 years old when his parents, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, flew to the Belgian Congo so Bogie could shoot the 1951 classic The African Queen. As their plane sat on a tarmac at a New York airport, Stephen’s nurse — who was slated to take care of him for six months — died of a stroke. What did Humphrey and Lauren do?
“If you get a chance to go to Africa and film a movie with John Huston and Katharine Hepburn or stay home with a 2-year-old kid, what are you going to choose?” Stephen asked at a recent screening of Queen at New York City’s Metrograph Theater. They chose the former. “It was the adventure of a lifetime,” Stephen said.
The couple met on 1944’s To Have and Have Not and stayed together until Humphrey’s death at 57 in 1957. “It was just a perfect time and a perfect storm,” Stephen exclusively told Closer Weekly — in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now! — of his parents’ unlikely love story (Bogie was 25 years her senior). “There was no rhyme or reason. Boom, there it was.”
Though they were both mega-stars, Humphrey and Lauren taught Stephen “to be humble, not to take yourself too seriously and to treat people right,” he said. After Humphrey died, Lauren was wed to another actor, Jason Robards, from 1961 to 1969, “but she would continually talk about my father and his films,” Stephen said.
He remained close to his mother and accompanied her to the Oscars in 1997 when she was expected to win Best Supporting Actress for The Mirror Has Two Faces. The shock on Stephen’s face was real when Lauren lost to The English Patient’s Juliette Binoche, but his mom “finally got her Oscar,” he said, when she won an honorary award in 2009, almost five years before her death at 89. Now, that’s a Hollywood ending.
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