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Tough Without a Gun: The Extraordinary Life of Humphrey Bogart
Word on Books. Skip to main content. Monday, March 7, - pm. By Stefan Kanfer. When she and Belmont Bogart first met, he was drawing a yearly salary of twenty thousand dollars, an excellent sum in those days.
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Maud Humphrey was already earning more than twice as much. A liaison began, interrupted by Maud's militant feminism: Belmont's nineteenth-century, male-centered view made the suffragist uncomfortable. They broke off. Two years later she heard about his accident and dropped by to express her sympathy. She paid another call, and another, and another. During one rendezvous the pair abruptly decided that personal politics be damned, they could not live without each other. A week later an item appeared in the Ontario County Times of June 15, It explained that in view of Dr.
Bogart's indisposition, Miss Humphrey thought she would rather nurse her husband through his trial than visit him duly chaperoned at stated intervals, so about the middle of the week the young couple announced casually that they were going to be married Saturday, and they were, with only a handful of cousins to give away the orphaned artist.
The honeymoon will be spent in a hospital. Bogart, nee Humphrey, is a connection of Admiral Dewey, and is also related to the Churchills and the Van Rensselaers.
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The newlyweds bought a four-story town house at West rd Street, between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue, then a toney address. Down the hill was Riverside Park, leading to the mile-wide Hudson River and the picturesque craggy Palisades; across the street was the Hotel Marseille, city home of folks like Sara Roosevelt, mother of the future president Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Bogarts had four live-in help two maids, a cook, and a laundress ; their combined salaries added up to less than twenty dollars a week. In , Maud gave birth to the Bogarts' first child and only son.
He had something of his father's dark coloring, modified by his mother's delicate bone structure. The boy was christened with her maiden name, and there was great rejoicing. Before Humphrey was out of swaddling clothes Belmont made plans to enter him at Phillips Andover, predicting that someday young Bogart would become a doctor, like his old man.
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Over the next five years two daughters were added to the family. In keeping with Maud's progressive outlook, all three children were instructed to address her by her first name. None of them ever called her "Mother. A pat on the back or a soft clip on the shoulder was her way of showing affection. Belmont was undemonstrative as well, but this was in keeping with a man of his class and period. Thus he had enormous expectations of his handsome son; thus he assumed that Frances and Catherine would simply marry well and raise their own families.
Maud demurred. They could have lives and jobs of their own; a new day was dawning for women. It was the beginning of many arguments about the family, and about life itself. For more than a decade the three little Bogarts enjoyed an atmosphere of ostentatious comfort, surrounded by reproductions of classical statues, heavy tapestries, and overstuffed horsehair couches and chairs. They played with the latest toys, were luxuriously togged, and ate the best food money could buy. When Maud and Belmont dined out, it was at stylish restaurants like Delmonico's and the Lafayette, but those occasions were rare; they were around the house much of the time.
The doctor received patients in a mahogany-lined office on the first floor, and the artist did her work in a studio at the top of the house. On many occasions she sketched and painted until after midnight, when the only sound was the cooing of pigeons on the roof. Belmont raised them in his spare time; it was one of his many hobbies.
His favorite avocation was sailing, something he had done as a youth. To that end, the Bogarts acquired an estate on the exclusive shore of Canandaigua Lake, one of the long, wide Finger Lakes in upstate New York. Willow Brook's fifty-five acres contained a working farm, an icehouse, and broad lawns leading down to the dock where Belmont kept a yacht he called the Comrade.
So far, so Edwardian. For Maud and Belmont were running out of mutual affection.
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It was not a question of lovers or mistresses. They had gradually, and then not so gradually, grown apart, vanishing into their professional obligations and political beliefs, into alcohol, and, in Belmont's case, into morphine addiction. They fought much of the time, usually behind closed doors. But in hot weather secrets could not be kept so easily. Maud suffered from migraine headaches, and through the open windows her throaty voice could be overheard by neighbors, bawling out the children for some trivial misbehavior. Her outbursts were often followed by Belmont's own tantrums.
Those could lead to harsh corporal punishment; like his father before him, Belmont was a believer in the razor strop as an instrument of moral instruction. At Willow Brook the children's lives veered between the terror of evening quarrels and the delights of lyrical summer afternoons.
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For Humphrey, some of the pleasure came from his newfound role as leader of the Seneca Point Gang. This was a self-styled group of adolescent boys who addressed him as "Hump," a nickname he found congenial. They skinny-dipped in local streams, built their own clubhouse of spare planks, played war with lead soldiers, and put on amateurish stage plays at the lakefront beach. But turn the page, and, as promised, we are treated to two more chapters dedicated to the enduring afterlife of the Zombie Bogart.
Or so one would assume. So best to end with the man himself, flickering with the exception of The African Queen in black and white. Best to leave him there on the big screen and to return to him there when return to him we do.
Because any of his classic films will tell us so much more about him than we can learn in the pages of Tough Without a Gun. Enter your keywords. Author s :. Stefan Kanfer. Release Date:.
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