Today is Humphrey Bogart’s birthday; and in celebration, we wanted to share one of our favorite stories about him:
Filmmaker Tom Mankiewicz—son of famed director and screenwriter Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve, Guys and Dolls, Cleopatra) and the nephew of Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz—spent a memorable summer in Rome on set with Humphrey Bogart. In his memoir, My Life as a Mankiewicz, Mank describes the night when Bogart gave him his first real drink:
Dad made The Barefoot Contessa in Italy in 1953, directing his own screenplay. It was the first film he made for his recently formed independent production company (Figaro) and starred Humphrey Bogart and Ava Gardner. Dad was nominated for his writing. Edmond O’Brien won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Dad and Mother had decided to take me to Rome with them. I was going on twelve.
[ . . . ]
I remember one cold, cold night when the film was shooting in a cemetery. I’d been dressed for the day in shirt sleeves, and the wardrobe man got me a jacket. I was still shivering. Humphrey Bogart walked by and noticed: “Are you cold, Tommy?”
“I sure am.”
“Here, try some of this.” Bogart pulled out a flask, took off the top, and filled it with a thimbleful of scotch.
I’d never had a drink of hard liquor in my life, only an occasional sip of wine at home. But what the hell, he was Humphrey Bogart. I downed it, just like they do in the movies. My throat started burning. I coughed. And then, son of a bitch, my chest did feel warmer. Bogart grinned.
In a half hour he passed by again. “Still cold?”
“A little bit.”
He filled the top again. I drank.
Later on Dad came by to take me home. “Ready?”
I looked up at him with a stupid smile. “Yesss . . .” The smile remained plastered on my face.
Dad looked around, zeroing in on Bogart. “He’s drunk. It has to be you, you prick.”
“Christ, Joe, the kid was cold. I was just trying to help out.”
To this day I have the singular honor of having received my first real drink from Humphrey Bogart.