Nov 16, 2008

Filially Fabulous: Stephen Humphrey Bogart

When screen legend Humphrey Bogart succumbed to cancer in the early days of 1957, the last-century boy - he was born December 25, 1899 - left an indelible impression on the world of film, and a viable absence in the lives of his family. His actress wife Lauren Bacall chronicled the heartbreaking loss in her 1978 autobiography, where she stressed the impact of his untimely death on the couple's two young children, son Stephen and daughter Leslie, just 8 and 4, respectively, at the time of their father's passing. The bereaved trio ultimately coped, but Stephen, burdened by public fascination with his iconic father and vying to live outside of the shadow cast by such association, struggled with identity issues and substance abuse problems throughout his young life.

Fortunately, such unrest is impossible to place on the 59-year-old today. The younger Bogart is now a successful author and entrepeneur who utilizes his tony, unique childhood experience as celebrity offspring to lend an air of authenticity to his classic film-related endeavors; chief among them is MODA Entertainment, which he co-founded and developed from 1997 through 2008. His promotion of such retrospective-themed print, radio, and film work takes him to small, accessible venues throughout the country, where he interacts with reporters and fans and fields questions with genuine candor and enthusiasm, as he did when visiting Chicago's famed Hollywood Boulevard Cinema this past weekend.

Amiable and approachable, Bogart greeted fans and inquiries with equal graciousness as he hosted the presentation of the theater's latest addition, the Casablanca-themed "Moroccan Room," where his father's fabled film was the new theater's incendiary screening. He signed autographs, chatted with curious fans, even happily personalized my favorite photograph of his parents while talking film shop in the Boulevard lobby (he kindly indulged us in some incredible backstories about his mother and father).

With so many links to the golden age of cinema but tenuous and undignified ones, Stephen Bogart is delightfully refreshing representative and facilitator of film's preservation, celebration, and translation today. Here's looking at you, kid.

For more information on upcoming Hollywood Blvd events, please visit their website.
Find out more about the array of creative projects MODA Entertainment has spawned here.

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