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|Also Known As:||Humphrey Deforest Bogart||Died:||January 14, 1957|
|Born:||December 25, 1899||Cause of Death:||throat cancer|
|Birth Place:||New York, New York||Profession:||Cast ... actor stage manager road company manager office boy|
Born in 1899 to a prominent New York family, Humphrey Bogart emerged from a minor theatrical career in the 1920s to become one of Hollywood's most distinctive leading men of the 40s and 50s, principally through his often-revived appearances in "The Maltese Falcon" (1941), "Casablanca" (1942) and his Oscar-winning "The African Queen" (1951). Though initially typecast as one of Warner Bros. tough guy/gangsters in the 30s, during and after WWII the "Bogie" persona grew into more fully developed anti-hero and reluctant hero personifications. Although he continually played men with criminal pasts, Bogart created a rich and complex screen image that stood as a visual and cultural icon for the "noir" side of Hollywood: his hangdog expression, perennial five-o'clock shadow, and dangling cigarette came to signify the world-weary cynic, the staid, self-reliant individualist who was at heart a moral, even sentimental human being. Whether portraying ex-con, war hero, detective or more offbeat characters, this combination of traits ultimately gave Bogart a romantic appeal of immense proportions, an appeal that has remained powerful with subsequent generations of moviegoers while other box office star images of the golden age have faded. After military service in WWI, Bogart embarked on a theatrical career, first as a manager, then as an actor who worked his way to Broadway. Like many of his colleagues he traveled to Hollywood in the early 30s looking for employment in early sound films. From his earliest movie appearances Bogart portrayed gritty characters with criminal connection, as in "Up the River" (1930), a prison film starring Spencer Tracy. After signing a contract with Warner Bros.--the studio most closely associated with the tough guy image via its stars Edward G. Robinson and Jimmy Cagney--that reputation was only enhanced. Working simultaneously on Broadway and in film, Bogart appeared in ten minor movie roles before his breakthrough performance in "The Petrified Forest" (1935). Reprising the Broadway success of Robert Sherwood's play, Bogart portrayed Duke Mantee, an escaped convict/gangster who holds several people hostage in an Arizona diner. The tough but intelligent performance brought him popularity and a featured player contract with Warner Bros. for $550 a week. Over the next five years Bogart appeared in 28 Warner Bros. features, almost always as an underworld figure. On occasion he played uncharacteristic supporting roles (a district attorney in Bette Davis's "Marked Woman" 1937, the miscast Irish stable master in "Dark Victory" 1939 or the bizarrely conceived zombie in "The Return of Dr. X." 1939), but rose to prominence through a number of memorable supporting roles in urban crime films. From the less distinguished gangster programmer "Bullets or Ballots" (1936), Bogart moved into an effective series of typically downbeat Warner films with urban, lower-class settings, including "Dead End" (1937), "Crime School" (1938) and "They Drive by Night" (1940), as well as the prison genre films "San Quentin" (1937) and the quintessential, "Angels With Dirty Faces" (1938). His reliable, unaffected performances won him both increasing box-office recognition and a doubling of salary in 1938. The following year he returned with two other gangster films, "King of the Underworld" (1939) and, more memorably, opposite Jimmy Cagney in "The Roaring Twenties" (1939), an episodic saga about war-veterans-turned-racketeers that summed up the studio's decade of mythmaking about the American gangster. As Cagney and Robinson phased out their Warner Bros. stereotypes, the studio turned increasingly to Bogart. Although George Raft had been the heir to Cagney's top spot, he turned down a series of roles (in "High Sierra 1941," "The Maltese Falcon" and "Casablanca") that subsequently fell to Bogart, who needed them to make himself a star of major proportions. As Roy "Mad Dog" Earle in "High Sierra" Bogart proved himself more than just a fast-talking, unidimensional bad guy. With the aid of John Huston's screenwriting he created a sympathetic portrait of a criminal with a gentle heart and delivered a performance far more subdued than any seen in Cagney's maniac sociopaths. Later in the following year, Bogart received his first top-billing in John Huston's directorial debut "The Maltese Falcon", a low-budget surprise hit that launched the actor into greater stardom as detective Sam Spade. In 1942, Bogart signed a new seven-year contract for $2750 a week and embarked on an acclaimed series of wartime pictures, beginning with his now legendary portrayal of Rick Blaine in "Casablanca" (1942). Once again his character was a man with a past, but was now also capable of both romance and moral action. His reluctant-hero persona also contributed to Hollywood's war effort in Huston's "Across the Pacific" (1942), "Action in the North Atlantic" (1943), "Passage to Marseille" (1944) and Howard Hawks's "To Have and Have Not" (1944). The love scenes in "To Have and Have Not", however, outshone the action sequences as Bogie and his young co-star, Lauren Bacall, fell in love off-screen and married. Their on-screen collaboration proved instantly popular and the Bogie-Bacall pairing continued successfully in "The Big Sleep" (1946), "Dark Passage" (1947) and Huston's "Key Largo" (1948). (The couple were also in the public eye when they participated in the Committee for the First Amendment, a group opposed to the HUAC harrassment of Hollywood liberals.) The postwar years also saw the Bogie persona transformed into a "film noir" icon, beginning with his portrayal of Raymond Chandler's detective Philip Marlowe in "The Big Sleep" and continuing through a series of dark anti-hero roles, including "Dead Reckoning" (1947) and Nicholas Ray's "In a Lonely Place" (1950; an existential love story which many consider his finest performance). As Hollywood's studio system and star contracts changed drastically heading into the 1950s, Bogart's career altered as well. In 1947 he signed a contract with Warner Bros. that not only paid him $200,000 per year and gave him approval of roles, directors and scripts, but also set him up with his own independent production company, Santana Pictures. He continued to work (and carouse) with friend John Huston (in "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" 1948, "The African Queen" 1951, "Beat the Devil" 1953), but his acting roles moved into greater variety, not only in the sometimes quirky Huston films, but also in lighter fare, such as Billy Wilder's "Sabrina" (1954). Ultimately, however, it was the cynical, shady but psychologically complex characterizations to which Bogart returned at the end of his career. Most notably, he portrayed a manipulative film director opposite Ava Gardner in "The Barefoot Contessa", the marble-rattling Capt. Queeg in "The Caine Mutiny" (both 1954), another escaped convict in "The Desperate Hours" (1955), and finally a sardonic sports writer/agent for the "noir" world of boxing in "The Harder They Fall" (1956). It proved to be Bogart's final screen appearance; he died of cancer the following year.
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