Saturday, June 9, 2012
If you had to compile a list of Hollywood's greatest couples then surely Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall would be at the top or very close to it. They embody the glamour and the romance of the era, as well as being a very successful partnership. I'm going to explore this highly public union in terms of my newly introduced concept of 'Confluence'. If you remember from last month it is, on the surface, a simple notion of sharing time in people's respective 'significant years' (ie. 19/24/31/36 etc. ) together. It is said to have the possibllity of creating greater empathy, because both partners are going through their mutual dramas together. This is most easily evidenced by people born within 12 months of each other, or some multiple of 12 years. In the case of Bogart and Bacall it was within 24 years of each other. Bogie was born Dec. 25th, 1899 and Lauren was born Betty Joan Perske on Sept. 16th, 1924. This means the period of Sept.16th to Dec.25th (around 3.5 months) of every 'significant year' they were both alive for, was shared as 'Confluence'.
Bogart began his career on the stage in Broadway. His personal life included three early and unhappy marriages and many brief affairs, mostly with actresses. One biography claimed he slept with around 1,000 women including Bette Davis, Jean Harlow, Marlene Deitrich and Ingrid Bergman. This was until he met the love of his life:- the 19 year old inexperienced actress, Lauren Bacall, whom he met when she was auditioning for a part in the movie 'To Have and To Have Not'. They would have first met also when Bogart was 43, so both were experiencing the direction-altering events that typically come along during a 'Year of Broken Pathways':- only this time it was magnified, because they were undergoing them together.
Let's take the then, Betty Bacall, first. When she was 19, the wife of independent film director Howard Hawks (whose nickname was 'Slim':- the name of Bacall's character in the movie) noticed her on the cover of Harper's Bazaar. She showed the photo to her husband, who soon signed her for the role. He changed her name to Lauren Bacall and changed her style and voice:- adopting a lower, sexier tone, that made it one of the most distinctive voices in Hollywood. During screen tests to minimise her nervousness, she pressed her chin against her chest and tilted her eyes upward. This created "The Look", which became Bacall's trademark. On it's own this is highly relevant evidence for fateful direction-change in her 'Year of Broken Pathways' (no different to the making of Edith Piaf, or the making of Lady Gaga at exactly the same age).
However Humphrey Bogart had his own dramas during his 'Year of Broken Pathways' at 43. His third marriage to Mayo Methot had been a disaster, while their alcoholism and fighting, including gunplay, were legendary. They were known as the "battling Bogarts", she was called "Sluggy" and their home (the scene of much of their fighting, including stabbing Bogart in the shoulder) was known as "Sluggy Hollow". He was ready for a change and wanted peace, not war. This was fertile ground to be introduced to a nice Jewish girl, 24 years his junior, and not a big drinker. It was said that Bogart fell in love with the role of "Slim" played by Bacall and that he wanted her to always play this role for him. But whatever the ideosyncracies were, their relationship worked until his death in 1957.
Oh yes, and just by the way, at 36, when Bogart was in his most important mid-life 'Year of Revolution' he had his acknowledged major film breakthrough role in 'The Petrified Forest' with his acting being called "brilliant", "compelling" and "superb". Just another 'Life Cycles' recitation of:- 'The Truth and The Evidence'. Remember you don't have to believe in it, you just have to read it. The facts are the facts. Till next month, when I go further into Hollywood in Part 2 :- "may the cycles always bring you good fortune".