Early life and education
Bogart was born on Christmas Day 1899 in New York City, the eldest child of Belmont DeForest Bogart (1867–1934) and Maud Humphrey (1868–1940). Belmont was the only child of the unhappy marriage of Adam Watkins Bogart, a Canandaigua, New York innkeeper, and his wife, Julia, a wealthy heiress. The name "Bogart" derived from the Dutch surname "Bogaert". Belmont and Maud married in June 1898; he was a Presbyterian, of English and Dutch descent, and she was an Episcopalian of English heritage, and a descendant of Mayflower passenger John Howland. Young Humphrey was raised in the Episcopal faith, but was non-practicing for most of his adult life.
The precise date of Bogart's birth was long a matter of dispute, but has been cleared up. Warner Bros. listed his birthdate, throughout his career, but Clifford McCarty maintained that the studio publicity department had altered it from January 23, 1900 "...to foster the view that a man born on Christmas Day couldn't really be as villainous as he appeared to be on screen". The "corrected" January birthdate subsequently appeared—and in some cases, remains—in many otherwise authoritative sources. Biographers A.M. Sperber and Eric Lax documented, however, that Bogart always celebrated his birthday on December 25, and consistently listed it as such on official records, such as his marriage license.
Maud Humphrey from American Women, 1897
Lauren Bacall confirmed in her autobiography that his birthday was always celebrated on Christmas Day, adding that he joked that he was cheated out of a present every year because of it. Sperber and Lax also noted that a birth announcement, printed in the Ontario County Times on January 10, 1900, effectively rules out the possibility of a January 23 birthdate; and state and federal census records from 1900 report a Christmas 1899 birthdate as well.
Bogart's father, Belmont, was a cardiopulmonary surgeon. His mother, Maud, was a commercial illustrator who received her art training in New York and France, including study with James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Later, she became art director of the fashion magazine The Delineator and a militant suffragette. She used a drawing of baby Humphrey in a well-known advertising campaign for Mellins Baby Food. In her prime, she made over $50,000 a year, then a vast sum and far more than her husband's $20,000. The Bogarts lived in a fashionable Upper West Side apartment, and had an elegant cottage on a 55-acre estate on Canandaigua Lake in upstate New York. As a youngster, Humphrey's gang of friends at the lake would put on theatricals.
Bogart had two younger sisters, Frances ("Pat") and Catherine Elizabeth ("Kay"). His parents were busy in their careers and frequently fought. Very formal, they showed little emotion towards their children. Maud told her offspring to call her "Maud" not "Mother", and showed little if any physical affection for them. When pleased she "[c]lapped you on the shoulder, almost the way a man does", Bogart recalled. "I was brought up very unsentimentally but very straightforwardly. A kiss, in our family, was an event. Our mother and father didn't glug over my two sisters and me."
As a boy, Bogart was teased for his curls, tidiness, the "cute" pictures his mother had him pose for, the Little Lord Fauntleroy clothes she dressed him in, and even for the name "Humphrey". From his father, Bogart inherited a tendency to needle, fondness for fishing, lifelong love of boating, and an attraction to strong-willed women.
Bogart attended the private Delancey School until fifth grade, then the prestigious Trinity School. He was an indifferent, sullen student who showed no interest in after-school activities. Later he went to the equally elite boarding school Phillips Academy, where he was admitted based on family connections. His parents hoped he would go on to Yale, but in 1918 Bogart was expelled. Several reasons have been given: one claims that it was for throwing the headmaster (or a groundskeeper) into Rabbit Pond on campus. Another cites smoking, drinking, poor academic performance, and possibly some inappropriate comments made to the staff. A third has him withdrawn by his father for failing to improve his grades. Whatever caused his premature departure, his parents were deeply dismayed and rued their failed plans for his future.
With no viable career options, Bogart followed his passion for the sea and enlisted in the United States Navy in the spring of 1918. He recalled later, "At eighteen, war was great stuff. Paris! Sexy French girls! Hot damn!" Bogart is recorded as a model sailor who spent most of his sea time after the Armistice ferrying troops back from Europe.
As an actor, Bogart's only major part as a US Navy man came late in his career as the paranoid Capt. Queeg in The Caine Mutiny
Bogart may have received his trademark scar and developed his characteristic lisp during his naval stint, though there are several conflicting stories. By one account, his lip was cut by shrapnel when his ship, the USS Leviathan, was shelled, although some claim Bogart did not make it to sea until after the Armistice had been signed. Another version, which Bogart's longtime friend, author Nathaniel Benchley, believed, is that Bogart was injured while taking a prisoner to Portsmouth Naval Prison in Kittery, Maine. While changing trains in Boston, the handcuffed prisoner allegedly asked Bogart for a cigarette, then while Bogart looked for a match, the prisoner smashed him across the mouth with the cuffs, cutting Bogart's lip and fleeing. Recaptured, the prisoner was taken to jail. An alternative version has Bogart struck in the mouth by a handcuff loosened while freeing his charge, the other still around the prisoner's wrist. By the time Bogart was treated by a doctor, a scar had already formed. David Niven said that when he first asked Bogart about his scar, he said it was caused by a childhood accident. "Goddamn doctor", Bogart later told Niven, "instead of stitching it up, he screwed it up." Niven claims the stories that Bogart got the scar during wartime were made up by the studios to inject glamour. His post-service physical makes no mention of the lip scar, even though it mentions many smaller scars. When actress Louise Brooks met Bogart in 1924, he had some scar tissue on his upper lip, which Brooks said that Bogart may have had partially repaired before entering films in 1930. She also said his "lip wound gave him no speech impediment, either before or after it was mended."