Bacall & Bogart: The Story Behind One of Hollywood's Greatest Romances

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall at the 1955 Academy Awards (AP Photo)
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall at the 1955 Academy Awards (AP Photo)

Long before Kimye and Brangelina, there was Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

In true Hollywood fashion, their love story began on set, in this case, 1944's To Have and Have Not. Bogart was married to actress Mayo Methot at the time — and was 25 years older than Bacall (who was 19) — but neither of these factors could get in the way of their connection. By 1945, the leading man had divorced Mayo and married Lauren.

But that doesn't mean Lauren always had her heart set on this much older man. In fact, her first reaction to him was pretty much the polar opposite.

[Related: Lauren Bacall, Hollywood's Icon of Cool, Dies at 89]

On a Saturday morning in 1942, Bacall went with her mother and her aunt Rosalie to see Casablanca. "We all loved it," Bacall revealed in her memoir, Lauren Bacall by Myself. "And Rosalie was mad about Humphrey Bogart. I thought he was good in it, but mad about him? Not at all. She thought he was sexy. I thought she was crazy. I couldn't understand Rosalie's thinking at all."

The following year, Bacall ended up in position to be cast opposite either Cary Grant or Bogart in To Have and Have Not. "I thought, Cary Grant — terrific! Humphrey Bogart — yuck!" she admitted to Vanity Fair during an interview in 2011.

Her opinion changed quickly after meeting Bogart in the flesh. Shortly after they began filming, the siren of the silver screen found herself enamored with her leading man. In her memoir, she recalled a night when Bogart showed up at her house after an evening out drinking with Jackie Gleason. (Lauren lived with her mother at the time — and her mother was none too pleased. Still, even she couldn't put the brakes on this smoldering romance.)

[Related: Remembering Lauren Bacall's Most Indelible Roles]

"I ran up the street — arms open wide, hair flying — to Bogie's smiling face and safe embrace," Bacall wrote. "We sat in the car for a while — Gleason didn't know or care what was going on — it was just that Bogie had to see his Baby. What it felt like to be so wanted, so adored! No one had ever felt like that about me. It was all so dramatic, too. Always in the wee small hours when it seemed to Bogie and me that the world was ours — that we were the world. At those times we were."

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart (Getty Images)
Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart (Getty Images)

Though Bacall was Bogart's fourth wife, he was obviously head over heels for her from the start.

"She's a real Joe," he famously quipped. "You'll fall in love with her like everybody else."

[Related: Celebrities React to the Death of Lauren Bacall]

It wasn't just her stunning looks that drew him to her, however. He also marveled at her ability to handle the pressures of fame with grace.

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in 1955. (AP Photo)
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in 1955. (AP Photo)

"It ruins so many people — particularly actresses," Bogart lamented decades ago in a quote that reappeared in Orange Coast magazine in 1987. "Ninety percent of them are the dullest broads in town. They have no appeal for me whatsoever, and that goes for Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, and Gina Lollobrigida. In fact, the only actress in town with any true allure is Lauren Bacall."

He only had eyes for her — but she also only had eyes for him.

"I was so blinded by Bogie I couldn't think of anything else," she admitted to the Associated Press in 1999. "All I thought of was being with him. He didn't ask me not to be an actress, but he said he had been married to three actresses and their careers always came first. If I wanted a career that badly, okay, he would help me as much as he could, but he wouldn't marry me." And so Bacall made her decision to put her career (at least somewhat) on the backburner. "I had to promise to put our life together first. That's what I did."

Though she continued to make movies, their marriage was her focus, and it seemed to work out rather nicely. It's true that they had their trials just like any other couple (in particular, Bogart struggled to curb his drinking), but they also had two children together — a daughter, Leslie, and a son, Stephen (named after his father's character in To Have and Have Not) — and remained married until Bogart's death from esophageal cancer in 1957.

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall along with their 2-year-old son, Stephen, in 1951 (NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall along with their 2-year-old son, Stephen, in 1951 (NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

When Bacall passed away on Tuesday, it was Bogart's Estate that broke the news:

It seems appropriate that they were the ones to announce Bacall's death, since her years with him admittedly were the most treasured time of her life.

"With Bogie, it's no surprise that I say those were the best years of my life, because I married a man who adored me and who taught me everything about life and movies and people and exposed me to the best part of living, which was talented, creative people," she gushed to Vanity Fair. "And all of his absolute devotion to the truth, to honesty, to honor, and to laughter — to everything. How could I not find that the years that changed me completely and that gave me a life were the happiest? I didn't have to think of anything. I was just being adored by this fantastic man."

And the rest, as they say, is history.