Baby's A Real Joe

Baby's A Real Joe
Ever since Bacall and Bogart gazed at each other over the flame of Bacall's match in “To Have and Have Not” (1944), they couple had chemistry. Throughout the four films Bogart and Bacall made, there remains periods of unspoken devotion to each other. Nothing is more electrifying than watching Bogie light Bacall’s cigarette. Despite their 25-year age difference, they feel in love on the set of “To Have and Have Not.” Within a year of courtship, they married, had two children and were together for eleven and a half years until Bogart’s death in 1956.

Before “To Have and Have Not,” Bacall studied acting at the American Academy in New York City but it was her modeling that lead to her discovery. Slim Hawks, wife of Director Howard Hawks, referred her husband to Bacall’s striking appearance after seeing her on the March 1943 cover of Harper’s Bazaar. From then on, Hawks molded Bacall into the iconic husky-voiced femme fatale we know today. After Hawks filmed Bacall’s screen test for “To Have and Have Not,” Bogart saw the test and met Bacall for the first time. “I just saw your test. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun together.” Bogart told her.

At the tender age of nineteen, Bacall made her silver screen debut as “Marie ‘Slim’ Browning” in “To Have and Have Not” (1944). During filming, Bacall and Bogart fell in love even though Bogart was married to his then third wife Mayo Methot. While Bogart courted Bacall, he had a bracelet made for her with a gold whistle attached to it in remembrance Bacall’s famous line, “You know how to whistle don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and. . .blow.”

On May 12, 1945, a twenty-year old Bacall married forty-five year old Bogart. After the preacher pronounced them “husband and wife,” Bacall exclaimed, “Oh goody!” The couple would make three more films together, including a film adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s novel “The Big Sleep” (1946), “Dark Passage” (1947) and “Key Largo” (1948).

During their marriage, they starred together in a television production of “The Petrified Forest.” Bogart's nickname for Bacall was "Baby" and described her as "Baby's a real Joe." When their son was born, the couple again paid tribute to their first film by naming him “Steve” after Bogart’s character. A few years later, they had a second child, a girl they named “Leslie Howard Bogart” after the actor Leslie Howard who was a good friend of Bogart’s and an actor Bacall had a crush on when she was a young girl.

In 1956, Bogart’s declining health problems were finally diagnosed as esophageal cancer. Despite his illness, Bogart made some of his especially memorable performances in “The African Queen” (1951), which won Bogie an Academy Award for “Best Actor. In 1956, Bogart passed away at the age of 58. When saying her final goodbye, Bacall slipped a gold whistle into Bogart’s coffin.

In a 2005 interview which Lauren Bacall had with Larry King, Bacall was quoted as saying how much Bogie meant to her: “. . .He gave me my life. . .I don't know what would have happened to me if I hadn't met him — I would have had a completely different kind of life. He changed me, he gave me everything. And he was an extraordinary man.”

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