Who would have thought that the leading star of the Golden Age, the stud from The Maltese Falcon, was once a part of a scandalous Hollywood marriage and a victim of domestic violence?
Beside his inimitable acting technique and legacy as cultural icon, Bogart is also known his adorable and strong relationship with the actress Lauren Becall. However, before he emerged in this “real life Hollywood love story”, Bogey was a part of disastrous and extremely violent marriage, and he was the victim.
On August 21, 1938, Bogart entered into a disastrous third marriage, with actress Mayo Methot, a lively, friendly woman when sober but paranoid and physical when drunk.
Bogart had been married to actresses Helen Menken and Mary Philips before marrying Methot, and blamed his previous divorces on his wives’ careers and their long separations. Two years after Methot and Bogart were married, Methot gave up acting.The two became a high-profile Hollywood couple, but it was not a smooth marriage. Both drank heavily, and Methot gained a reputation for her violent excesses when under the influence. They became known in the press as “The Battling Bogarts,” with Methot widely known, due to her combativeness, as “Sluggy.” Bogart later named his motor yacht Sluggy in her honor. During World War II, the Bogarts traveled Europe entertaining the troops. At one point in their travels during the war, the Bogarts met up with director John Huston in Italy. During a night of heavy drinking, Methot insisted that everyone listen to her perform a song. Though they told her no, she sang anyway. The performance was so bad and embarrassing that Huston and Bogart remembered it years later and based a scene in Key Largo on the incident. It is the scene in which the alcoholic girlfriend (played by Claire Trevor) of the mobster (played by Edward G. Robinson) sings a number off key and while intoxicated. The performance won Trevor an Academy Award.
“The Bogart-Methot marriage was the sequel to the Civil War,” said their friend Julius Epstein. A wag observed that there was “madness in his Methot.” Despite his proclamations that, “I like a jealous wife,” “We get on so well together (because) we don’t have illusions about each other,” and, “I wouldn’t give you two cents for a dame without a temper,” it was a highly destructive relationship. Numerous battles took place at the Hollywood residence of the famous couple – nicknamed Sluggy Hollow – including one in which Methot stabbed Bogart in the shoulder. The incident was kept out of the press by the publicity department of Warner Bros.. Actress Gloria Stuart recalled, in her later years, a dinner party at which Methot produced a pistol and threatened to shoot Bogart. The couple separated and reconciled several times over the course of their marriage.While filming To Have and Have Not in 1943, Bogart fell in love with his 19-year old co-star Lauren Bacall and the two began an affair. Methot caught wind of the affair and visited the set often.
Bogart attempted to save the marriage but Methot’s alcoholism intensified as did their fighting.Bogart announced that he had moved out of the couple’s home on October 19, 1944. On October 30, Bogart announced that he had reconciled with Methot and that he was “going home. […] In other words, we’ll return to our normal battles.” The reconciliation proved to be short lived; Methot announced that Bogart had moved out of their home yet again on December 3, 1944. Methot filed for divorce on May 10, 1945 in Las Vegas. The divorce was granted one hour after she filed the decree. Bogart married Lauren Bacall on May 21, 1945