Friday, December 25, 2009

Humphrey Bogart

Humphrey DeForest Bogart was born on December 25, 1899 in New York City. He was the first child of Belmont Bogart,a surgeon and Maud Humphrey, a commericial illustrator.

Humphrey Bogart's career began as a model for Mellins Baby Food. His mother used a drawing of baby Humphrey in a well-known ad campaign for Mellins Baby Food.

From his father, Bogart inherited a tendency for needling people, a fondness for fishing, a life-long love of sailing, and an attraction to strong-willed women.

In 1918, Humphrey Bogart followed his love for the sea and enlisted in the United States Navy in the spring of 1918 and served during World War I.

It was during his naval stint that Bogart may have gotten his trademark scar and developed his characteristic lisp.

Humphrey Bogart had been raised to believe acting was beneath a gentleman, but he enjoyed stage acting. He never took acting lessons, but was persistent and worked steadily at his craft. He appeared in at least seventeen Broadway productions between 1922 and 1935. He appeared in such productions as Drifting (his first Broadway play), Meet the Wife, Saturday's Children, Our Wife, Invitation to Murder and The Petrified Forest.

Humphrey Bogart's film debut was in The Dancing Town (1928).

In 1936, Humphrey Bogart got his big break when he was cast as Duke Mantee (a role he originated on Broadway) in the film version of The Petrified Forest. Originally the studio wanted Edward G. Robinson for the role of Duke Mantee. But Leslie Howard campaigned for Humphrey Bogart and won. Bogart never forgot Leslie Howard for this favor.

Humphrey Bogart starred in such classic films as Marked Woman (1937), Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), Dark Victory (1939), They Drive by Night (1940), High Sierra (1941), The Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942), Sahara (1943), Passage to Marseille (1944), To Have and Have Not (1944), Conflict (1945), The Big Sleep (1946),
Dark Passage (1947), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Key Largo (1948),
In a Lonely Place (1950), The African Queen (1951), The Caine Mutiny (1954),
Sabrina (1954), The Barefoot Contessa (1954), and The Desperate Hours (1955).

Humphrey Bogart's final film was The Harder They Fall (1956).

Humphrey Bogart was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for The Caine Mutiny and Casablanca.

He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for The African Queen.

Humphrey Bogart has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures.

While filming To Have and Have Not, Bogart met Lauren Bacall. When they met, Bacall was nineteen and Bogart was forty five.

Bogart and Bacall then married in a small ceremony at the country home of Bogart's close friend, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield at Malabar Farm in Lucas, Ohio on May 21, 1945.

Bogart and Bacall had two children: Stephen Humphrey Bogart, named after Bogart's character's nickname in To Have and Have Not, and Leslie Howard Bogart, named after actor Leslie Howard, who had been killed in World War II.

Humphrey Bogart rarely appeared on television. However, he and Lauren Bacall appeared on Edward R. Murrow's Person to Person. Bogart was also featured on The Jack Benny Show.

Bogart performed radio adaptations of some of his best known films, such as Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon. He also recorded a long-running radio series called Bold Venture with Lauren Bacall.

Bogart was an excellent chess player, almost of master strength. Before he made any money from acting, he would hustle players for dimes and quarters, playing in New York parks and at Coney Island. The chess scenes in Casablanca had not been in the original script, but were put in at his insistence. During World War II, Bogart would play chess with the servicemen by mail.

Bogart is credited with five of the American Film Institute's top 100 quotations in American cinema, the most by any actor:

5th: "Here's looking at you, kid" – Casablanca
14th: "The stuff that dreams are made of." – The Maltese Falcon
20th: "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." – Casablanca
43rd: "We'll always have Paris." – Casablanca
67th: "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine." – Casablanca

Ranked #1 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest screen actors.

Frank Sinatra's group of friends known as The Rat Pack was actually originally a group of Bogart's friends, including Sinatra, who enjoyed drinking heavily.

They referred to themselves as The Holmby Hills Rat Pack, derived from the Holmby Hills section of Hollywood where the Bogarts lived.

The origin of the term The Rat Pack was this: One morning, after a night of heavy drinking by Bogart and his friends, Bogart's wife Lauren Bacall walked into the room, looked at the group and flatly stated, "You look like a God-damned rat pack." Bogart enjoyed the term, and a legend was born.

Humphrey Bogart died at the age of 57 on January 14, 1957 of throat cancer.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch on December 9, 1916 in Amsterdam, New York. The son of Bryna Sanglel and Herschel "Harry" Danielovitch, a businessman.

Coming from a poor family, as a boy, Kirk Douglas sold snacks to mill workers to earn enough to buy milk and bread. Later, he delivered newspapers and claims to have worked at more than forty jobs before becoming an actor.

During high school, he acted in school plays, and discovered "The one thing in my life that I always knew, that was always constant, was that I wanted to be an actor."

Kirk Douglas talked his way into St. Lawrence University and received a loan, which he paid back by working part-time as a gardener and a janitor. He was a standout on the wrestling team.

Kirk Douglas's acting talents were noticed at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, and he received a special scholarship. One of his classmates was Betty Joan Perske (better known as Lauren Bacall), who would play an important role in launching his film career.

Graduating from drama school, Douglas made his Broadway debut as a singing telegraph boy in Spring Again. He would later appear in Broadway productions of The Three Sisters, Alice in Arms, Kiss and Tell, and Woman Bites Dog.

Kirk Douglas enlisted in the United States Navy in 1941, shortly after the United States entered World War II. He was medically discharged for war injuries in 1944.

After the war, Douglas returned to New York City and found work in radio theatre and commercials. Kirk Douglas had planned to remain a stage actor but Lauren Bacall helped him get his first screen role in the film The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), starring Barbara Stanwyck.

Kirk Douglas most notable film roles include Out of the Past (1947), A Letter to Three Wives (1949), A Letter to Three Wives (1949), Champion (1949), Young Man with a Horn (1950), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Lust for Life (1956), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), Strangers When We Meet (1960), Spartacus (1960), Lonely Are the Brave (1962), Seven Days in May (1964), A Gunfight (1971), Posse (1975), and The Man from Snowy River (1982).

Kirk Douglas was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for Lust of Life (1956), Champion (1949) and The Bad and the Beautiful (1952).

In 1996 he received an Honorary Oscar for Life Time Achievement. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures, which was stolen and later replaced.

Kirk Douglas received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1991.

A frequent co-star of Burt Lancaster, they appeared in six movies: Tough Guys (1986), Seven Days in May (1964), The List of Adrian Messenger (1963), I Walk Alone (1948), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) and The Devil's Disciple (1959).

Kirk Douglas married twice, first to Diana Dill, on November 2, 1943. The couple had two sons, actor Michael Douglas and producer Joel Douglas. They divorced in 1951. He then married Anne Buydens on May 29, 1954. They had two sons, producer Peter Douglas and actor Eric Douglas. Kirk and Anne have been married 55 years.

In 1991, he survived a helicopter crash in which two people died. This sparked a search for meaning, which led him, after much study, to embrace the Judaism in which he was raised. He documented this spiritual journey in his book Climbing the Mountain: My Search for Meaning (2001).

Now retired, Kirk Douglas blogs regularly on his MySpace account. At 93, he is the oldest celebrity blogger.