Day 29 of Noirvember: The Battling Bogarts

The beginning.

Every film noir lover knows about the era’s favorite couple, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. They’re like shadowy elegant royalty, with almost a dozen noir credits between them. But before Bacall, there was Mayo – Mayo Methot, that is, Humphrey Bogart’s third wife, to whom he was married for seven years.

As I’ve mentioned here previously, one of my favorite possessions is my collection of old movie magazines, one of which – the November 1943 issue of Silver Screen – contains a fascinating article about Bogart and Mayo entitled “How to Keep Your Marriage Alive.” Today’s Noirvember post takes a look at this article and the relationship between Bogart and Wife Number Three.

Bogart and Mayo Methot met in 1937, on the set of Marked Woman, a Bette Davis vehicle in which they both were featured. (Incidentally, if you’ve never seen this film, try to track it down – it’s really good stuff.) The couple married the following year, but their union was a volatile one from the start. Literally. During their honeymoon stay at New York’s Algonquin Hotel, Bogart and Mayo got into a huge fight that caused $400 worth of damage to their room. Before long, the duo became known as “The Battling Bogarts” – they frequently indulged in both public and private brawls, including one occasion when Mayo stabbed Boagart in the back, and another when she fired a gun at him.

Bogart and Mayo met on the set of Marked Woman.

The couple’s boisterous skirmishes became almost commonplace among their friends as well as the press – in the New York Times, columnist Earl Wilson once recounted a phone conversation he’d had with the actor, during which a crashing sound could be heard in the background. “My wife just missed me with an ashtray,” Wilson quoted Bogart. “I don’t know what’s wrong with her aim lately.”

The Silver Screen article didn’t shy away from referencing the Bogarts’ explosive relationship, although it did offer a flowery spin, calling the marriage “provocative” and stating: “Their delectable arguments are the talk of the town. Their differences of opinion are like legends.” The majority of the piece is one long interview with Bogart, during which he waxes philosophic about what makes a good marriage. Among his sage offerings are that a married couple shouldn’t have too much in common – “Too much sweetness and light can get pretty cloying after a while,” he said. He also claimed that couples should “argue and keep on arguing if you feel like it. Arguments keep your minds active and alive.” And Bogart insisted that separations among married couples were no good – his wife accompanied him “everywhere,” he said.

Happier times.

“We are never apart. It may give us more chances to argue, but that’s the way we like to live,” Bogart said. “When a husband goes away by himself, there’s always temptation for him to face.” Toward the end of the article, Mayo joined the conversation, sharing her views on the topic of jealousy and frankly admitting that she was jealous of her husband: “He thinks that there is really no need for jealousy until there’s a reason for it. I say it’s too late then. But why shouldn’t there be jealousy in marriage? How can you help it?”

From The Battling Bogarts to Bogie and Bacall.

Well, as it turned out, Mayo had plenty of reason to be jealous. Not long after the publication of this article, Bogart met Lauren Bacall on the set of their film To Have and Have Not (1944).

I don’t know where Mayo was at the time, but suffice it to say that Bogart and Mayo divorced less than two years later, on May 10, 1945. Bogart married Bacall 11 days later.

So much for keeping your marriage alive!

Join me tomorrow for (sniff, sob!) the 30th and final day of Noirvember!!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 29, 2017.

2 Responses to “Day 29 of Noirvember: The Battling Bogarts”

  1. It gets very ironic when dysfunctional couples are involved in writing such things…

  2. Struggling to finnish the bio by Gary Provost and Bogart’s son… Keep wondering “So, when is Bogie going to turn likeable?” It seems like one of Bogart’s favourite words was “booze” and that he needed his daily first drop by noon at the latest…
    I guess there is Bogie, and someone else called Bogart.
    I find it ironic how people (those personally involved and later) accommodate/romanticise relationships with the celebrity alcoholic…
    Hepburn and Tracy’s is rather offputting, too! (Unless you like sleeping on the floor outside a door in order to answer the beck and call of a man back from a bender.)
    Perhaps being described as “a man’s man” in a fan mag was actually journalistic code for male alcoholism?
    Thanks for sharing “the Battling Bogies” story.

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