Leslie, Bogart e Bacall

All I had known of films was Bette Davis and Leslie Howard. (I was in love with him – alas, never to meet him).

Così inizia l’autobiografia di Lauren Bacall, By Myself. Una dichiarazione d’amore postuma che fa sorridere.

Lauren Bacall era nata nel 1924; all’epoca del suo debutto a Broadway, nel 1942, aveva 17 anni. Leslie, purtroppo, scomparve l’anno seguente e Lauren non ebbe la possibilità di incontrarlo, come avvenne invece per l’altro suo idolo, Bette Davis.

La  lunga storia d’amore di Lauren con Humphrey Bogart è entrata nella storia. Si incontrarono nel 1944, durante le riprese di To Have and Have Not. Lauren aveva 19 anni, Bogart 47 e già tre matrimoni alle spalle.

Bogart era stato amico di Leslie Howard, e non dimenticò mai l’aiuto che aveva ricevuto al tempo di The Petrified Forest, il film che fece decollare la sua carriera di attore. Humphrey Bogart aveva interpretato il personaggio di Duke Mantee nella versione teatrale, accanto a Leslie nel ruolo di Alan Squier. Leslie Howard era la star della commedia, ma era abbastanza intelligente e consapevole da rendersi conto della grandissima prova offerta da Bogart, e delle enormi potenzialità del personaggio di Mantee sullo schermo.  La Warner Bros, che aveva acquistato i diritti cinematografici della commedia, non aveva però alcun interesse ad affidare a Bogart la parte di Mantee, così importante: voleva un attore di gran nome, da affiancare a Leslie Howard e Bette Davis che erano già nel cast. Leslie aveva insistito molto per avere anche Humphrey nel cast. Quando la scelta della Warner si appuntò su Edward G. Robinson, Bogart informò l’amico, e Leslie  inviò un telegramma a Jack Warner in cui dichiarava perentorio: “No Bogart, no deal. L.H.”

Lauren e Humphrey chiamarono Leslie la loro seconda figlia, nata nel 1952.


“All I had known of films was Bette Davis and Leslie Howard. (I was in love with him – alas, never to meet him)”. This is the beginning of Lauren Bacall’s self-biography, By Myself.  A posthumous declaration of love that makes me smile.

Lauren Bacall was born in 1924. When she made her Brodway début, in 1942, she was 17. Leslie died the following year. She was not given a chance to meet him, as she did with her other idol, Bette Davis.

Lauren’s love story with Humphrey Bogart has become history. They met in 1944, while making To Have and Have Not. Lauren was 19, Bogart 47; he had already had three wives.

Bogart had been Leslie Howard’s friend. He never forgot how Leslie had helped him with The Petrified Forest, the film which launched Bogart’s career. Humphrey Bogart had played the Duke Mantee role on stage, with Leslie Howard as Alan Squier. Leslie was the star of the play, but he was clever and conscious enough to understand Bogart’s great performance and the enormous potential of the Duke Mantee role on the screen. Warner Bros had acquired the film rights, and was not interested in casting Bogart as Duke Mantee. They wanted a big star for that role, together with Leslie Howard and Bette Davis who were already in the cast. Leslie insisted that they cast Bogart too. When Warner Bros chose Edward G. Robinson, Bogart informed his friend, and Leslie sent Jack Warner a telegram: “No Bogart, no deal. L.H.”.

Lauren and Humphrey gave their second child, a girl born in 1952, Leslie’s name.

Lauren Bacall & Humphrey Bogart

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