Humphrey Bogart defined an era of cinema.
While he’s regarded as one of the most talented artists to grace the big screen, Bogart didn’t grow up with aspirations of becoming a star. At age 17, he enlisted in the United States Navy to fight in World War I and began his military career. During his service, he received a scar above the right corner of his upper lip, which later became a defining feature of his signature tough-guy appearance.
After being honorably discharged from the Navy and returning to his hometown in New York City, he reconnected with childhood friend Bill Brady, whose father was a producer. He helped Bogart land his first jobs in the industry, and with his foot in the door, Bogart began his acting career on Broadway.
After the stock market crash of 1929, stage production plummeted. Like many actors at the time, Bogart headed to Hollywood to try his hand at film, where he signed with Fox Film Corporation. There he met longtime friend Spencer Tracy, who gave him his famous nickname “Bogie.” Despite signing with a studio early on, it wasn’t until the early 1940’s that he starred in some of his most memorable leading roles. In 1942, Bogart secured his place at the top with his performance as Rick Blaine in Casablanca.
Bogart’s long and remarkable career in cinema spanned over 80 films. He was not only a household name but also a style icon. Bogart was a man of easy elegance, and he had the perfect watch—a Longines Evidenza, engraved with his initials, H.B. It made its big screen debut on Bogart’s wrist in Casablanca.
A few years later, Bogart received another watch as a gift from his secret lover, Verita Thompson. The yellow gold, Art Deco-style Gruen was engraved, “To Bogie, Love Vera.”
Although Bogart’s untimely death at age 57 came in the prime of his career, his acclaim has only continued to grow in the years since he passed. Longines later used Bogart and his Sabrina co-star Audrey Hepburn to debut the ad campaign featuring their now famous slogan, “elegance is an attitude.” And Bogart’s iconic Evidenza remains preserved at the Longines museum in Switzerland.
Image Credits: Header,1; Wikimedia Commons. 2; Warner Brothers.