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The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of: The Day I Got To Know Bogie And Bacall

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PopWrapped

Updated 11/20/2013 9:41pm
The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of: The Day I Got To Know Bogie And Bacall
Media Courtesy of Mubi.com

Claudia Walrad

Staff Writer

One of my fondest holiday memories is watching Lauren Bacall sing "Baby It's Cold Outside" with her onscreen granddaughter Thora Birch in the 1992 film All I Want for Christmas. Like many children of the 80's and 90's, I consider the film to be a Christmas staple, and the scene is a favorite highlight. Perhaps one reason I love this duet so much is it represents a piece of classic Hollywood that I can attach to my own movie-going experience. While I can enjoy classics such as The African Queen on DVD, Turner Classic Movies or even a revival showing at a theatre, my cinematic experience links Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall to this family Christmas movie from 1991. I suppose you could say it's a blend of two generational cultures that I find so enchanting. I never anticipated being able to share this piece of my movie going experience with the real-life son of Ms. Bacall. However, my attendance at the Downriver Town Hall Lecture series, kicked off by Stephen Humphrey Bogart in October, made this memorable moment possible. The older of the two children born to the actress and Humphrey Bogart, the guest speaker shared with a very attentive audience the details of growing up the child of perhaps the most iconic and well-loved couple in all of Tinseltown. Implementing the use of vintage audio and rare and cherished home movies, Mr. Bogart took the packed lecture hall with him on a trip down memory lane - one that proved to be fascinating and entertaining. A sound clip of the entire eulogy for Humphrey Bogart, written and delivered by director and close friend John Huston, was played at the start of the lecture. Upon listening to this little-heard speech, I was immediately struck by the significance of these words written about this man, adored by his family as well as the public. In an age where electronic media is constantly upon us, this simple audio recording successfully shed light on the effect that the loss of Humphrey Bogart had on the world in 1957. The term "Bogie and Bacall" is about as iconic as one can get in Hollywood. For someone who was not yet born during this legendary pairing, I was about to learn and gain affection for a part of entertainment history that any movie fan would cherish. Mr. Bogart opened the doors to his childhood - one filled with many experiences that are usually only happen....well, in the movies. Growing up the childhood playmates of the Sinatra children, Liza Minnelli, and Lorna Luft, Stephen Bogart and his younger sister Leslie spent their formative years around talent written about in the entertainment history books. Home movies from these years reveal a roster of family friends that would make any film fan gaze in amazement. Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, and Richard Burton are only a few of the famous faces featured on these reels, enjoying time by the Bogart family pool, or on Santana, Bogie's beloved sailing yacht. After spending his early childhood in Beverly Hills, Mr. Bogart and his sister eventually moved to Manhattan with their mother, as she built a career on the New York stage. Some time after Bogie's death, Bacall remarried, and Jason Robards became their stepfather. Relating another chapter out of his childhood, Mr. Bogart recalled seeing such famous stage actors as Peter O'Toole and Christopher Plummer visiting Mr. Robards in their home. One may say that Mr. Bogart truly experienced firsthand, knowing show business royalty of both coasts - stage and screen. What made Mr. Bogart's lecture so emotionally gripping, however, was not only the iconic moments, such as stories of his parents going off to film The African Queen, or his attendance at wedding of Liza Minnelli (bridesmaid Liz Taylor held up the ceremony because she forgot her shoes.) Rather, it was the personal details of a childhood and its fond memories: Betty, as Bacall was affectionately called by Bogie, cuddling with the family dog.... Bogie convincing a 6 year old Stephen believe hecaught a live lobster on the boat.... details about the family's swimming pool....all interspersed throughout Mr. Bogart's lecture, created a vivid and warm portrait of life as the child of two Hollywood legends. Mr. Bogart pointed out at various times throughout his lecture that he is often asked if it's difficult at all to be the child of Bogie and Bacall, yet repeatedly emphasized that he is grateful for all of his experiences. He seems to look quite fondly upon the people who have shaped his life, and reiterates how lucky he is to have such wonderful footage of his parents together to watch and enjoy. A favorite moment in the lecture occurred as Mr. Bogart shared the film of his family appearing on Edward R. Murrow's Person to Person interview show together. Few can boast of such an extraordinary experience, and to share it with the audience was rather remarkable. I'm proud to have been in attendance at Mr. Bogart's presentation and to have experienced the stories and details he relates about life with Bogie and Bacall. And yes, I was able to tell him about my own memory of seeing his mother onscreen for the first time. While most think of her in To Have And Have Not or How To Marry A Millionaire, I always think of Lauren Bacall singing Baby It's Cold Outside with 10-year-old Thora Birch. I'd like to think that perhaps she would be endeared by such a thought....and now I have a plethora of other memories to build upon as I delve into her film library. As the 1981 song "Key Largo" talks about Bogie and Bacall, I can now listen and think about the exceptional look that I have had into the home and lives of two Hollywood legends....Here's looking at you, kid :) http://www.Twitter.com/PopWrapped https://pop-wrapped.tumblr.com http://www.SoundCloud.com/PopWrapped http://www.Facebook.com/PopWrapped http://www.Instagram.com/PopWrapped http://www.Pinterest.com/PopWrapped http://www.YouTube.com/PopWrapped https://pop-wrapped.wordpress.com http://www.PopWrapped.com
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