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Thursday, March 03, 2016

It's All In A Nickname

"Bogie" With Wife and Pals in Photoplay, September 1938

When Did Bogart Become Bogie/Bogey?

Humphrey Bogart being a favorite actor makes me endlessly curious over major and minor aspects of his career. Monday's post on Chain Lightning addressed everything but the central question arising from that otherwise forgot '50 release, to wit: Was this a first time ads referred to Bogart as "Bogey"? Preliminary dig found fan mags calling him that (or close-spelled "Bogie") from 1938, latter first mention I found of the nickname, an apt label considering he played mostly bogeymen at the time.  Not much choice within the name Humphrey Bogart after all --- suppose kid pals ever called him "Hump"? 1939 saw HB answering to "Bogey" in Modern Screen, and by 1941, with stardom conferred by High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon, the tag is firmly affixed by fan press.

"Bogey" became all the more shorthand for Bogart after his marriage to Lauren Bacall. Casablanca had made him a romantic lead, status confirmed thanks to taking of a near-child bride. He'd bear the nickname lighter for fun-loving vehicles directed by Howard Hawks (To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep) to make Bogart more a regular guy with a sense of humor. All Through The Night and Across The Pacific had anticipated this, and now Bacall would afford Bogart a love-teammate to renew his brand for remainder of the 40's. They would be "Bogey and Betty" in the monthlies, gently spoofed in WB cartoons Slick Hare and Bacall To Arms (where HB's caricature is billed as "Bogey Go-Cart"), and photographed together for Sunday sections. Spelling meanwhile varied between Bogey and Bogie, finding its way to official publicity for a first time (that I found) in Key Largo's pressbook, not ads, but prepared reviews and articles for submit to newspapers.

Slightly Off-Topic, But How Many Color Photos Would You Say
Were Taken on Treasure Of The Sierra Madre?

Note "Bogey's the test pilot!"
I believe Chain Lightning to be the first, and only, time that "Bogey" was used in (studio-prepared) ad art for a Humphrey Bogart film. "Okay, Bogey! let 'er rip!," plus the star's action pose, suggests a show less serious than customary for him, and note Warners ID'ing itself as The "White Heat" Company, nod to a previous year's hit, and tip-off that Chain Lightning will be more of the same. This would be Bogart's penultimate film for WB, The Enforcer of 1951 back to serious selling and use of the proper name. Later it became common to use Bogey/Bogie in support of oldies at campus sites, but this was less distributor-sanctioned than individual programmer-driven. The shorthand that brought his public closer to late-30's and 40's Bogart became hipster-slang for Protest Era rebirth of a star turned icon, Jean-Paul Belmondo summing up with murmur of "Bogey" when he sees a poster for The Harder They Fall in 1960's Breathless. The tag would stay for 1981's "soft rock" tune, Key Largo, wherein Bertie Higgins sings, "We had it all, just like Bogie and Bacall." This may have the last high-profile pop cultural reference to Bogart by his nickname, unless another has gotten by me since.

Previous Greenbriar Explores of the Bogart Cult HERE and HERE.

UPDATE --- 3/4/16: Noted writer and historian William M. Drew has done further research on the Bogey/Bogie question and kindly shares his findings with Greenbriar. Here are vintage newspaper articles he attached to accompany information supplied by Mr. Drew in the Greenbriar comments section for this post:


Blogger John McElwee said...

Richard M. Roberts sees double meaning in Warners' selling blurb for "Chain Lightning":


Perhaps I'm bringing down the tone of the conversation and letting the scatological portions of my brain take prominence, but doesn't the ad for CHAIN LIGHTNING telling Bogey to "let `er rip!" bring on a whole new meaning to the term "sonic boom"?


9:02 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Mike Mazzone reveals a personal connection with Bertie Higgins and the "Key Largo" song ...


Interesting post on “Bogey”
Reminded me of something I hadn’t thought of for years.

“Key Largo” by Bertie Higgins, Bertie must have been a Bogart fan as he also a couple years later, released songs titled “Casablanca” and “Tokyo Joe”
Don’t know the lyrics, so I’m not sure about any more references to “Bogey”

My Dad loved music and even got one of his songs recorded in Cleveland back in the 50’s. He often commented that he considered “Key Largo” as well written and a favorite song of his.

On a final note, Bertie Higgins is from Tarpon Springs, Florida. My sister bought his family home in Tarpon in the late 70’s (location shooting for “Beneath the 12 mile Reef, was also shot in Tarpon Springs) and I have fond memories of Sunday dinners and Holiday gatherings there.


9:04 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Further research and information on Bogey/Bogie from William M. Drew:

Dear John,

After reading your latest item on the topic of when Humphrey Bogart first became known as Bogey or Bogie, at least in print, I just now checked the various newspaper archives as well as the fan magazines. The earliest I've found, which were in syndicated columns, predate the fan magazine references by a year. I have attached to this e-mail two newspaper pages from 1937 containing these columns. The first comes from a column by none other than Harriet Parsons as it appeared in the March 21, 1937 edition of the "Springfield (Massachusetts) Republican." In it, she calls him a number of times "Bogey." The other, taken from the June 30, 1937 edition of the "Illinois State Journal" published in another Springfield, is in Hubbard Keavy's "Life in Hollywood" column in which, relating an anecdote about the on-going filming of "Dead End," he refers to Bogart as "Bogie."
In the years from 1938 to 1940, there were many references to him in the press as "Bogey" and "Bogie," including a frequent play on words about his playing "bogie" men in the films. So it had become a very common nickname for him in print prior to 1941 and his attainment of super-star status with "High Sierra" and "The Maltese Falcon." However, despite its common usage in press articles, that was not necessarily how his friends addressed him. When I interviewed her for my book, "At the Center of the Frame: Leading Ladies of the Twenties and Thirties," Claire Trevor told me that she as well as many of his sailing friends most often called him "Bogart" rather than "Bogie." No one, she said, ever called him "Humphrey" other than as a joke.
Thank you for continuing to publish such an informative and absorbing blog on film history.

Warmest regards,
William M. Drew

7:44 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Author/historian James Curtis (the recent and excellent William Cameron Menzies bio) shares illuminating data re Bogey v. Bogie:


Thanks to a sharp memory from fifty years ago, I can add the following to the topic of "Bogey" vs. "Bogie":

Here in Los Angeles, the station that had the old Warner pictures was KHJ, which, at the time, was part of RKO General. Probably more than any other station in the market, KHJ made a practice of showcasing old films, most prominently on the "Million Dollar Movie" which repeated the same title seven or eight times over the space of a week. The station's longtime announcer, the bespeckled Wayne Thomas, was an unabashed movie fan and would tape special segments for the M$M slots when some filler was needed. One time, Thomas learned that Basil Rathbone was shooting COMEDY OF TERRORS at a nearby studio and asked him in to talk about the Sherlock Holmes movies the station was then running in prime time. Another time, he got Jack Pierce to do a makeup job on him after screening CREATION OF THE HUMANOIDS. (I hope these, and other such segments, survive somewhere. It's be great to see TCM show them.)

Anyway, for a while, KHJ had a nightly movie series called "The Flick." It was hosted by a congenial Tiparillo-puffing fellow named Jack Denton. The gimmick of "The Flick" was that each night of the week was programmed to a specific category, and Monday night was always Bogart night. (This was 1966, and the station had enough Warner titles to sustain such a streak.) Denton's show came on at 11:00 p.m. and was afforded an open-ended slot. The films, therefore, were shown uncut, and if Denton had a special guest, there was room for them, too. One night, Denton's guest was Joe Hyams, whose biography of Bogart--unquestionably the best book he ever wrote--was then in the stores. I remember that Denton specifically asked Hyams about the spelling question, since the title of his book was "Bogie" with the "ie." Hyams replied that he had, of course, seen it both ways, but decided to go with the "ie" because that was how Bogart himself spelled it in handwritten notes. And, I guess, Hyams had, in his capacity as Hollywood columnist for the New York Herald Tribune, received more than his fair share of such notes over the years.

Good post!


10:48 AM  
Blogger stinky fitzwizzle said...

Personally, I'm more obsessed with when Bogie started wearing a toupee.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

One time, Thomas learned that Basil Rathbone was shooting COMEDY OF TERRORS at a nearby studio and asked him in to talk about the Sherlock Holmes movies the station was then running in prime time.

I hope he had better luck with Rathbone than a friend's father had. My friend's father was a newspaperman and was attempting --mid 1960s -- to conduct an interview with Rathbone about his career, but found him plagued by a curious kind of amnesia. Sherlock Holmes... Son of Frankenstein... Casanova's Big Night... The Court Jester... Mr. Rathbone had absolutely no memory of those pictures. However, The Adventures of Robin Hood... Captain Blood... Anna Karenina... pictures like those he remembered quite well and was willing to talk at length about.

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That color on-location photo with Bogart, Houston and Holt was terrific. Thanks so much for sharing that one!

4:17 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Glad you liked it, Toby. It was certainly a happy surprise to come across.

4:52 PM  

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