1 Bogart: Personal Life; Marriages

Humphrey Bogart’s Four Marriages

While playing double role in Drifting at the Playhouse Theatre in 1922, Bogart met actress Helen Menken; they were married on May 20, 1926, at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City.

They divorced on November 18, 1927, but they remained friends. Menken said that Bogart valued his career more than marriage, citing neglect and abuse.

He met Mary Philips, when they worked in the play Nerves during its brief run at the Comedy Theatre in September 1924. They married on April 3, 1928 at her mother’s apartment in Hartford, Connecticut.

His wife Mary had a stage hit in A Touch of Brimstone and refused to abandon her Broadway career for Hollywood. After the play closed, Mary relented; she insisted on continuing her career, however, and they divorced in 1937.

Bogart entered a turbulent third marriage to actress Mayo Methot, a lively, friendly woman when sober but paranoid and aggressive when drunk, on August 21, 1938.

She became convinced that Bogart was unfaithful to her (which he eventually was, with Lauren Bacall, while filming To Have and Have Not in 1944).

They drifted apart; Methot’s drinking increased, and she threw plants, crockery and other objects at Bogart. She set their house afire, stabbed him with a knife, and slashed her wrists several times. Bogart needled her; apparently enjoying confrontation, he was sometimes violent as well. The press called them “the Battling Bogarts.”

Julius Epstein, “The Bogart-Methot marriage was the sequel to the Civil War”. Bogart bought a motor launch which he named Sluggy, his nickname for Methot: “I like a jealous wife. We get on so well together (because) we don’t have illusions about each other … I wouldn’t give you two cents for a dame without a temper.” Louise Brooks said that “except for Leslie Howard, no one contributed as much to Humphrey’s success as his third wife, Mayo Methot.”

Methot’s influence was increasingly destructive, however, and Bogart continued to drink more heavily than ever before.