Hero: Humphrey Bogart

Humphrey Bogart

The Debonair Hero

Long before movie quotes became a certain sort of social currency, flowing from the lips of college kids everywhere (“Tina, eat your food!”), Bogie had the market cornered, with gems like “Here’s looking at you, kid,” “We’ll always have Paris” and “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine“–all from Casablanca. Brooding, leering and tough-skinned, Bogart was an icon of the silver screen, with career highlights like The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Angels with Dirty Faces, Sabrina, and The African Queen, but his personal life off-screen is every bit as interesting as the scripted stuff.

He’s rumored to have been tossed out of high school for tossing his headmaster in a pond. An air of mystery surrounds the signature scar on his lip–some accounts say he was hit by a piece of shrapnel while he was in the Navy. Some say he was punched by a naval prisoner, whose handcuffs caused the gash. Still others insist that a barroom brawl in a speakeasy did it. Any which way, it’s a manly way to be disfigured.

He was a master chess player, and an expert sailor. He could quote the Greek philosophers and over a thousand lines of Shakespeare. When he thought a movie’s wardrobe department was too cheap, he wore his own suits on set. He married Lauren Bacall (whose acting career he mentored) and on top of all that, he founded the freakin’ Rat Pack in 1955, whose purpose, as described by Bacall herself was, “To drink a lot of bourbon and stay up late.”

If none of that is enough to raise Bogart to heroic status, consider this: In 1997, Entertainment Weekly magazine named him “the number one movie legend of all time,” and in 1999, the American Film Institute ranked him the Greatest Male Star of All Time. And he did it all with a name like Humphrey.