How Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart's scandalous love story swept us all off our feet

Remembering the Life & Legend of Lauren Bacall

Jennifer Aniston recently went to great pains to keep her remarriage to Justin Theroux a secret — from paparazzi and guests alike. But Hollywood's proto-power couple known as Bogie and Bacall — perhaps the first A-list love affair that helped to sell magazines as well as movie tickets — basically invited the entire world to attend their 1945 nuptials.

Bacall would describe her 12-year relationship with Bogart as "the headiest romance imaginable" -- one that endured until Bogart died of esophageal cancer in 1957.

But before they even had a chance to get hitched, it featured more drama than all of their four films combined, which means that it is probably only a matter of time before Lifetime reduces their life together to a two-hour made-for-TV movie, a la Liz & Dick.

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After all, Bogart and Bacall were the Old Hollywood version of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (who, in a very Bogie-and-Bacall-ish move, will next costar as a married couple in the November romance By the Sea).

In honor of the one-year mark since Bacall's death in 2014 at 89, here's our guide to getting to know – or remembering fondly – one of the greatest love stories in Tinseltown history.

Lauren Bacall through the years:

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How Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart's scandalous love story swept us all off our feet
Actress Lauren Bacall posing in front of portrait drawing of herself in suite at the Gotham Hotel. (Photo by Nina Leen/Pix Inc./The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2002: Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall visit the Daily News. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
American actress Lauren Bacall, circa 1950. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - MARCH 20: Married actors Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall pose for a portrait at the Academy Awards ceremony which was held at the RKO Pantages Theater on March 20, 1952 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frank Worth, Courtesy of Emage International/Getty Images)
Lauren Bacall, US actress, and her husband, Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957), US actor, support themselves by holding the mast on a small sailboat, circa 1950. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Lauren Bacall, US actress, wearing a black jacket and top with a skirt with horizontal stripes, posing in a garden beside a display of daisies, circa 1950. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Actress Lauren Bacall poses for the April 24th cover of PIC Magazine, published by Street and Smith in New York, 1945. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)
circa 1945: American screen star Lauren Bacall, whose successful film career spans more than fifty years, endorses Royal Crown Cola. (Photo via John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)
circa 1945: American screen star Lauren Bacall glowers over her shoulder. (Photo via John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)
American actress Lauren Bacall (Betty Jane Perske) lying on an armchair and reading a magazine. 1940s. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Cinema Personalities, pic: circa 1940's, A portrait of American actress Lauren Bacall (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)
American Film star Humphrey Bogart smiles with his actress wife Lauren Bacall at a press reception at Claridges in London, 1951 (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)
Portrait of American film actor Humphrey Bogart with his actress wife Lauren Bacall at the Savoy in London, 1951 (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)
American Film star Humphrey Bogart lights a cigarette for his actress wife Lauren Bacall at a press reception at Claridges in London, 1951 (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)
'The Big Sleep' a 1978 film noir starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images)
Actress Lauren Bacall photographed in 1966. (Photo by Jack Mitchell/Getty Images)
Portrait of American actress Lauren Bacall (Betty Jane Perske). 1970s. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Lauren Bacall publicity portrait for the film 'Sex And The Single Girl', 1964. (Photo by Warner Brothers/Getty Images)
Lauren Bacall publicity portrait, 1958. (Photo by Cornel Lucas/Getty Images)
Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957) and Lauren Bacall (b1924), American actors, 1946. Bogart and Bacall in a scene from The Big Sleep (1946). From the front cover of Picturegoer magazine (26 October 1946). Cropping restrictions are in place. (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)
Lauren Bacall is kissed by Gregory Peck in a scene from the film 'Designing Woman', 1957. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)
Lauren Bacall and Gregory Peck poolside in a scene from the film 'Designing Woman', 1957. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)
Lauren Bacall, circa 1955. (Photo by Getty Images)
Lauren Bacall, US actress, wearing a pink short sleeve jumper and a pink skirt, smiling as she poses beside a window, circa 1955. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Lauren Bacalll, US actress, in conversation with Frank Sinatra (1915-1998), US singer and actor, at a bar, circa 1955. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - CIRCA 1955: Actress Lauren Bacall poses for a studio portrait circa 1955 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - 1955: Actors John Wayne and Lauren Bacall pose for a studio publicity Still to promote their movie 'Blood Alley' in 1955 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Actor Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957) and his wife, actress Lauren Bacall, pictured playing chess, USA, circa 1955. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Actor Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957) and his wife, actress Lauren Bacall, pictured on the steps outside the front door of a house, USA, circa 1955. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Married American actors Humphrey Bogart (1899 - 1957) and Lauren Bacall on board a yacht, circa 1955. (Photo by FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
BEL AIR, CA - CIRCA 1955: Actress Lauren Bacall poses for a portrait in the backyard of her home in circa 1955 in Bel Air, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
American actress Lauren Bacall, circa 1955. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
circa 1955: Portrait of American actor Lauren Bacall sitting on a metal bar outdoors in front of a swimming pool. She is wearing a green sweater and red pants. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
1955: Portrait of American actor Lauren Bacall wearing a coral necklace and earrings and a gold satin jacket over a black velvet body suit, seated on an oriental carpet and leaning on an ottoman. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
4th March 1954: Film stars Lauren Bacall and, on right, Marilyn Monroe (1926 - 1962) share a joke. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
25th January 1954: American film star, Lauren Bacall during a visit to London. (Photo by R. Mitchell/Express/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MAY 24: Actress Lauren Bacall chats with TV show host Ed Sullivan in his office on May 24, 1954 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Steve Oroz/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - 1953: (L-R) Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable pose for a portrait on the set of the 20th Century-Fox film 'How to Marry a Millionaire' in 1953 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Theisen/Getty Images)
Actress Lauren Bacall pictured as a young child, aged ten, in her first professional portrait, taken by photographer John Robert Powers, USA, circa 1934. (Photo by Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
1999 Lauren Bacall stars in 'Diamonds.' Photo Miramax
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2000: Jason Robards with Lauren Bacall and son Sam. (Photo by Dan Farrell/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2000: Jason Robards and Lauren Bacall at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. (Photo by Bill Quinn/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 597 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actress Lauren Bacall, host Jay Leno on December 27, 1994 -- (Photo by: Alice S. Hall/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 12: Singer Whitney Houston and actress Lauren Bacall attend the Eighth Annual American Cinema Awards on January 12, 1991 Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 01: Sam Robards, Lauren Bacall, Stephen Bogart (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Pictured: (l-r) Actress Lauren Bacall, host Johnny Carson on January 11, 1980 -- (Photo by: Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
FRANCE - MAY 11: Actress Lauren Bacall in the Apostrophes with Lauren Bacall in Paris, France on May 11, 1979. (Photo by Louis MONIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Lauren Bacall during 51st Annual Academy Awards at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the L.A. Music Center in Los Angeles, CA, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Lauren Bacall (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
American actress Lauren Bacall (Betty Jane Perske) smoking. 1970s. (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)
Actress Lauren Bacall arrives for the 2009 Governors Awards at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, California on November 14, 2009. The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is presenting the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to producer-executive John Calley, and Honorary Awards to actress Lauren Bacall, producer-director Roger Corman, and cinematographer Gordon Willis at the inaugural Governors Awards event. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/GettyImages)
THE DUPONT SHOW OF THE WEEK -- 'A Dozen Deadly Roses' -- Episode 20 -- Pictured: Lauren Bacall as Lorraine Boswell -- Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
FAMILY GUY: After Peter's mother passes away, he forms a special friendship with her longtime pal, Evelyn (guest voice Lauren Bacall), in the 'Mom's the Word' Time Period Premiere episode of FAMILY GUY airing Sunday, March 9, 2014 (8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Actress Lauren Bacall arrives at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Inaugural Governors Awards held at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on November 14, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Actress Lauren Bacall arrives to ELLE Magazine's 14th Annual Women In Hollywood at the four seasons hotel on October 15, 2007 in Beverly Hills, California.
DEAUVILLE, France: US actress Lauren Bacall poses at a photocall for 'Birth' which is being previewed at the 30th Deauville American film festival in Deauville, 09 September 2004. AFP PHOTO/JEAN PIERRE MULLER (Photo credit should read JEAN PIERRE MULLER/AFP/Getty Images)
US actress Lauren Bacall answers journalists' questions after the last ever Haute-Couture show of French designer Yves saint-Laurent 22 January 2002, at the Centre Georges Pompidou art gallery in Paris . Hours before unveiling his last collection, innovative designer Yves Saint-Laurent said his love affair with women was not over and hinted he had other cards up his sleeve. AFP PHOTO JEAN-PIERRE MULLER (Photo credit should read JEAN-PIERRE MULLER/AFP/GettyImages)
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INSIDE THEIR INTIMATE WEDDING!

Paramount Pictures shot and released its own mini-movie of Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart's wedding ceremony (all three minutes of it), which was tellingly titled "Reel" Romance Comes True! The distinctly un-Hollywood location? A farmhouse in Ohio.

Otherwise, the marriage was stereotypical Tinseltown. Breathless narration describes "the famous screen lovers" and, surprisingly, doesn't shy away from highlighting the fact that "Ms. Bacall is 20. Mr. Bogart — married three times before — is 45." Footage shows such intimate moments as Bacall tossing her bridal bouquet and cutting into the wedding cake with the help of her husband: "Usually cast as a gunman, this time the groom helps his bride wield a knife ... may all of their scenes be love scenes," concludes the narrator.

In her 1978 memoir, By Myself (which was expanded by 77 pages and republished as By Myself and Then Some in 2005), Bacall painted the same scene in more vivid detail: "As I glanced at Bogie, I saw tears streaming down his face — his 'I do' was strong and clear, though," Bacall wrote.

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"As Judge Shettler said, 'I now pronounce you man and wife,' Bogie and I turned toward each other — he leaned to kiss me — I shyly turned my cheek — all those eyes watching made me very self-conscious. He said, 'Hello, Baby.' I hugged him and was reported to have said, 'Oh, goody.' Hard to believe, but maybe I did. Everyone hugged and kissed everyone else and more tears were shed. Bogie said it was when he heard the beautiful words of the ceremony and realized what they meant — what they should mean — that he cried."

HOW IT ALL BEGAN...

Just as Jolie and Pitt, who is 12 years her senior, reportedly first hooked up while filming Mr. and Mrs. Smith in 2005 — while Pitt was notably still married to Jennifer Aniston — Bogart and Bacall's affair began with a kiss in her trailer on the set of her 1944 film debut, To Have and Have Not.

"He was standing behind me — we were joking as usual — when suddenly he leaned over, put his hand under my chin and kissed me," Bacall wrote in her memoir. "It was impulsive — he was a bit shy — no lunging wolf tactics. He took a worn package of matches out of his pocket and asked me to put my phone number on the back. I did."

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Her youthful innocence aside, Bacall knew what she was getting into. "He was married to a woman who was a notorious drinker and fighter. A tough lady who would hit you with an ashtray, lamp, anything, as soon as not," Bacall wrote. (While never hitting Bacall, Bogart's soon-to-be ex-wife screamed obscenities at her and once called her a "Jewish bitch"; meanwhile, she stabbed Bogart with a knife while he was filming Across the Pacific.)

But Bacall was willing to risk it. She claimed that she just couldn't keep her hands off the unhappily married man—and vice versa: "There is no way Bogie and I could be in the same room without reaching for one another and it just wasn't physical. Physical was very strong but it was everything — heads, hearts, bodies, everything going at the same time," she wrote.

WHAT'S BEHIND THEIR PASSIONATE RELATIONSHIP...

The secret of their happiness is something that they shared both on screen and off: "Chemistry — you can't beat chemistry," Bacall told People in 2007. (Even their kid agreed! "Everyone could see their love right there on celluloid," Stephen Bogart wrote of his parents' scenes in To Have and Have Not. "He was the great love of her life, and she his.")

In her memoir, Bacall candidly recounted what went down when "Bogie had to see his Baby...what it felt like to be so wanted, so adored! No one had ever felt like that about me," she wrote. "It was all so dramatic, too. Always in the wee small hours when it seemed to Bogie and me that the world was ours — that we were the world. At those times we were."

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And it perhaps went deeper than that for this actress with admitted daddy issues. (She did not know her own abusive father until she was 8 years old — and never saw him again.) "Bogie was kind of my father. He showed me the way," Bacall told Vanity Fair in 2011. "I knew everybody because I was married to Bogie, and that 25-year difference was the most fantastic thing for me to have in my life," she added.

BUT WHO WEARS THE PANTS?

The pair's fame transcended mere movie stardom; in their own way, they also came to represent changing post-war gender roles. According to A.M. Sperber and Eric Lax's 1997 biography of the actor, "Bogart was, by the early 1940s, one of the top movie stars in the world and also a timely symbol of post–Pearl Harbor America: Tough but compassionate, skeptical yet idealistic, betrayed yet ready to believe again..."

Bacall, meanwhile, embodied the strong, independent modern American woman — one audiences had rarely witnessed on the silver screen. Her essence is summed up in Joseph McBride's book, Hawks on Hawks, in which the legendary director Howard Hawks wonders aloud: "Do you suppose we could make a girl who is insolent, as insolent as Bogart, who insults people, who grins when she does it, and people like it?" The answer proved to be a resounding yes, with success at the box office and public adoration alike.

And so Hawks instructed the Bronx teenager — born Betty Joan Perske — "to sass men," according to The New Yorker's Richard Brody. "Bacall, at 19, was already fast and knowing. When her character calls out Bogart's lines a step ahead of him, it doesn't seem scripted," noted Brody.

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"The only cause my husband Humphrey Bogart ever gave me to be jealous was not of a woman but of a boat — a racing yacht called the Santana," joked Bacall in her memoir. Their jet-setting romance — and Bogart's Oscar-winning career — took them all over the world: Palm Springs, where they crashed at Frank Sinatra's house, Venice, Rome, even the Congo, where Bogie filmed The African Queen. "The movie won him an Academy Award, and that night we were so happy," Bacall recalled. "Bogie had his yacht, me, success, our son... and now our second child was on the way."

THE TRAGIC ENDING THAT CAME TOO SOON...

Sadly, even The Notebook can't compare to the tragic end of their marriage, which left Bacall a widow at 32 and the single mother of two children. "The doctors kept telling us how lucky we were to have caught the cancer so early," wrote Bacall. A nine-hour operation managed to extend his life — but not by much, and certainly not his quality of life.

Bogart weighed only 80 pounds when he died. "When he came home [from the hospital] we were waiting for him — I was standing at the top of the stairs, with our children either side of me," Bacall wrote. "With that chewing gesture of his, the one that signaled some strong emotion, he said: 'This is what it's all about —this is why marriage is worth it.' I smiled down at him, on the verge of tears, suddenly realizing that he was, too."

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Bogart passed away at home not long after that night, three weeks following his 57th birthday. Bacall vividly remembered their last moments together: "I dressed to take the children to Sunday school. I kissed him, as I always did, and said I'd be right back," she wrote. "'Goodbye, kid,' he said. When I came back an hour later, he had slipped into a coma."

None other than John Huston read the eulogy at Bogart's funeral. "Bogie was lucky at love and he was lucky at dice," said the veteran director. "He got all that he asked for from life, and more. We have no reason to feel any sorrow for him — only for ourselves, for having lost him."

"I hated feeling that my life was over at 32," Bacall admitted. "Up to that time there had been either my mother or Bogie to lean on. Now there was no one."

A LIFELONG LEGACY OF LOVE...

But ultimately, Bacall maintained an attitude of gratitude until the end. "He taught me his philosophy of life," she wrote. "He taught me the rules of the Hollywood game. He taught me the usage and abusage of actors, called stars by the press, which couldn't have cared less what happened to any of us.... We were expendable — he taught me that, too. He taught me about standards and the price one must pay to keep those standards high."

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Bacall said she was partly inspired to write her memoirs because she hoped Bogart would be remembered as a man with "so many, many layers that, as well as I knew him, I'm sure I never uncovered them all."

Even now, a year after Bacall's death at age 89, more than a half-century after Bogart's, we have only begun to grasp the complexity of her own inimitable and unforgettable character, not to mention her legendary love story.


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