Her mother was against the match. His wife was not thrilled about it either. But when Americans first saw Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall together, they knew the two were made for each other. He was a pugnacious, heavy-drinking star who said he loved the ”art” of picking a fight. She was a stunning, growling siren-in-the-making who would become notorious for her star behavior. Yeah, he was 45 and she was 20, but age makes no difference when two tough cookies realize they are cut from the same mold.
Their road to the altar had its share of bumps. When they met early in 1944 during the making of To Have and Have Not (Bacall’s film debut), Bogie was still married to his volatile third wife, Mayo Methot, whose drunken brawls with him earned them the title ”the Battling Bogarts.” Bogie and Bacall held their clandestine trysts at her apartment in Beverly Hills and on his boat. They both suffered through his several attempts at reconciliation with Methot.
Then there was Bacall’s mother, Natalie, who despised Bogart for being older and for dragging her daughter through the painful discord of his marriage. Plus, he wasn’t Jewish.
The lovers hung tough. Bogart finally divorced Methot — she got one of his two Safeway stores as part of the settlement — and he married Bacall 11 days later. A relieved Natalie Bacall attended the ceremony.
The May 21 wedding, held at novelist Louis Bromfield’s Mansfield, Ohio, farm, then a hideaway for Hollywood’s smart set, was one of 1945’s romantic high points. Bacall, wearing a pale pink suit, delayed her entrance down the grand staircase for one last trip to the john as a single woman. Bogie, who joked that he was her ”something old,” fortified himself with a martini. They became man and wife while tears streamed down the groom’s face and a boxer dog named Prince sat on the marrying judge’s feet. After kissing his bride at the altar, Bogie, still choked up, blurted out, ”Hello, Baby.” Years later Bacall said, ”I hugged him and was reported to have said, ‘Oh goody.’ Hard to believe, but maybe I did.”
May 21, 1945
Returning U.S. servicemen were enjoying the Les Brown-Doris Day hit ”Sentimental Journey.” The late Ernie Pyle’s Brave Men led the nonfiction best-seller list. In movie theaters, Dorothy Lamour starred in A Medal for Benny, while on radio, the Andrews Sisters and Gabby Hayes sang out in ”The Andrews Sisters Eight-to-the-Bar Ranch.”