When Humphrey Bogart attending the prestigious prep school, Phillips Academy-Andover, he expelled for drinking and smoking. And while it’s likely the school regretted not able to call the future star a graduate once he’s one of the most famous names in the world. They at least tried to stop him from giving into unhealthy vices. Sadly, Bogart fell victim to the addiction, dangers, and cancers that can come from a lifetime of smoking. And that’s what ultimately killed him. Join Facts Verse, as we look at how Humphrey Bogart smoked in every scene. But it came back to haunt him!
Bogart was born on December 25th, 1899. His parents were wealthy (she was an heiress and commercial illustrator, while he was a surgeon) but their marriage was tumultuous and fairly terrible. Bogart still grew up in luxury, living in a fancy apartment in Manhattan. After his brief stint at Andover, where he expelled for drinking and smoking, Bogart decided he give the Navy a try. In later years, he’s known for having a prominent scar on his lip.
Bogart claimed it was from an incident during his time serving his country. He was reportedly walking a prisoner of the Navy somewhere, when the prisoner asked for a cigarette. Bogart also looked around for a match, and while his eyes averted, the prisoner tried to escape by hitting him across the mouth and running. And perhaps this incident that changed his life at least a little was foreshadowing his later death that resulted after years of smoking.
After his time in the Navy, Bogart began seeking out part on Broadway, which he was able to secure by the age of 21. However, they weren’t particularly big parts, and Bogart wasn’t finding a ton of success. Eventually he made his way to Hollywood to try his luck there. It took a few years, but by 1935, he was a bona fide star. By then he was showing up in up to 10 movies every year.
Bogart married a few times over the course of his life, and his first prominent marriage was to actress Mayo Methot. It was during this unhappy marriage that Bogart likely increased his drinking and smoking habits even more than he had been previously. Method was an alcoholic herself, and had a fiery temper. She would (rightfully) accuse him of cheating on her, and when she’d get mad, she take drastic measures. She threw kitchen objects at Bogart, stabbed him. And even set the house on fire. She also tried to take her own life by slitting her wrists. Bogart’s reaction to all of this behavior was to double down on his own vices, so drinking and cigarettes quickly became a more and more prominent component of his life.
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Alcohol and cigarettes
Bogart might have had a flourishing career and fairly decent health in the first half of the 20th century, but his lifestyle of excess quickly added up and came back to haunt him. By the beginning of the 1950’s Bogart was reportedly in failing health, despite only being in his 50’s. He generally smoked two packs of cigarettes every day. One clear sign of this was that he was constantly coughing. He also would quickly get out of breath at even basic movements. But it wasn’t just the smoking that hurt him. Apparently, he had been drinking so much and for so long, his liver had begun to deteriorate. Among other things, this made him tired constantly. Also, his brain had damaged and caused him to have memory loss.
Bogart was also stubborn. He kept putting off a trip to the doctor until 1956, long after his symptoms had been apparent. But when he finally did, the prognosis was dire. Bogart had developed esophageal cancer, most likely due to his years of drinking and smoking. Join Facts Verse, as we look at how Humphrey Bogart smoked in every scene, but it came back to haunt him!
Doctors tried to save his life
In March of 1956, Bogart’s doctors set out to see if they could manage to save his life. By then his esophagus had become cancerous. They ended up having to remove all of it. They found that two of his lymph nodes were cancerous as well, as was a rib, so they removed those too. In all, it was a grueling nine hour surgery.
After the surgery, Bogart received rounds of chemotherapy. But sadly, that didn’t help him. Doctor’s tried another surgery after that, will little to no effect. By that point it was 1957, and Bogart was a shell of a man. He couldn’t eat, nor talk. He had shriveled to only 80 pounds, and was basically either coughing or gasping for breath at every moment. This even with the oxygen tank he had strapped to him.
Amazingly, even this horrible health situation didn’t deter Bogart from smoking cigarettes. He merely switch to filtered cigarettes, instead of the Chesterfields he smoked for most of his life. On January 14th, 1957, Bogart went into a coma. He died the following day. Join Facts Verse, as we look at how Humphrey Bogart smoked in every scene, but it came back to haunt him!
Lifestyle and cancer
Esophageal cancer is a nasty disease, and a lifestyle of smoking, drinking, and even consuming a lot of red meats is known to linked directly to it. Bogart known to eat a lot of red meat, as well as other processed meats every day. And as we already established, his two-pack a day smoking habit and years of heavy drinking likely were large contributors to his cancer. In addition to his esophagus, Bogart also had cancerous cells in his throat and his voice box. These are usually caused by years of smoking. They can also caused by HPV, a sexually transmitted disease. While it’s not known if Bogart had HPV, he’s known to be very sexually active, so that’s a distinct possibility as well. Regardless, his lifestyle played a huge part in his rapidly deteriorating health by the time the 1950’s rolled around.
Why Bogart smoked so much on camera
Humphrey Bogart seen smoking cigarettes on camera that he became basically linked with smoking in the eyes of audiences, critics, and studios. In fact, a slang term for cigarettes coined – Bogeys – simply because of how iconic a smoker he was. Of course, at the beginning of his career, during the 1930’s, smoking was incredibly commonplace, both on and off the screen. One big reason that Bogart and other actors of that time used a cigarette was a prop was because many screenplays didn’t have many stage directions in them. Or at least, they had a tendency to have long monologues for the characters without any action in the middle of them. Actors found it hard to keep audiences engaged for that long, so they’d include a cigarette in their performance to have some action they could take in the middle.
That way the monologues would feel broken up nicely and were more easily digested. The action of pulling out, lighting, and taking a drag of a cigarette as a character talked would ensure the audience not only didn’t get bored, but that they also kep focusing on the mouth of the person talking. Join Facts Verse, as we look at how Humphrey Bogart smoked in every scene, but it came back to haunt him!
Bogart reportedly utilized this method during a long monologue in an early film he was in. But before that, Bogart voiced his frustration to the director that the scene was intensely boring. He remarked that the only way to keep it interesting would be to have two camels fornicating in the background. Of course, the director wasn’t about to try that, so he instead suggested to Bogart that he try smoking in the scene instead.
Because of the success of this method of acting, Bogart continued smoking during all of his movies. And another of his beliefs was that he didn’t have to stray too far from the types of characters that had made him famous. So while some actors are always looking to branch out and not be typecast, Bogart didn’t feel a need for that. So since his most successful characters to that point had been mostly playing guys who were tough but somehow detached. As such, he never saw the need to stop playing this type.
And since cigarette smoking went hand in hand with his acting choices when playing them, he continued to smoke in every film. It’s been said that his cigarettes were almost like a replacement for his characters carrying a gun. And his attitude of sitting back and smoking, rather than engaging in the world, gave his performances a laid back level of cool that audiences absolutely loved.
In the end, Bogart’s lifestyle of excess, and the way he chose to smoke in every film and on every set eventually caught up from him. It’s sad that we were robbed of a chance to see him acting into his later years,. It would have been great to see the type of performances he turned in during his later years. But unfortunately the choices he made in his early and mid life quickly added up, and he died far to young. Join Facts Verse, as we look at how Humphrey Bogart smoked in every scene, but it came back to haunt him!
Now it’s time to hear from you. Do you think Bogart regretting smoking throughout his life, or did he enjoy the habit enough to make his untimely death worthwhile? Let us know in the comments section below. And before you go, be sure give this video a like, and subscribe to Facts Verse if you haven’t already. Click the bell icon to stay updated on all our latest content!