Behind every great man is a great woman. Or in John Wayne’s case, many great women. And, they weren’t really behind him, more like right out front sharing in his glory. These cliches always seem to fall apart, don’t they?
John Wayne played opposite lots of women in his prolific career, and some of the relationships were more complicated than others. It’s not uncommon for stars to become romantically entangled, and this was often the case for Wayne. One thing is for sure, he played opposite some of the most beautiful and interesting ladies in show business.
1. Maureen O’Hara: Her signature red locks graced the screen many times over her acting career, including five films with John Wayne. The pair had incredible chemistry, but remained only friends off-screen. O’Hara was known for playing strong-willed characters.
The Quiet Man / Olive Films
2. Marlene Dietrich: Often playing a refined and sophisticated woman, Dietrich made three films with Wayne. She was well known for her flings with the Hollywood elite, and Wayne was reportedly among her conquests. Others included John F. Kennedy and Frank Sinatra.
Pittsburgh / Universal Pictures
3. Susan Hayward: Someone somewhere thought John Wayne should play Genghis Khan in the film The Conqueror. Unsurprisingly, it’s known as his worst movie ever. Unlucky for Hayward, she starred alongside Wayne in this massive flop. Even so, she was nominated for five Oscars during her life.
The Conqueror / RKO Pictures
4. Claire Trevor: In 1939, famed actress Trevor agreed to do a film entitled Stagecoach with a young actor by the name of John Wayne. The movie was a hit and catapulted Wayne to stardom and sex symbol status. So, the Duke has Trevor to thank.
Stagecoach / United Artists
5. Colleen Dewhurst: She was one of the most powerful, grounded, and complex actresses of her time. During her stage and screen career, she won two Tony Awards and Four Emmys. She acted with Wayne in two films during the 1970s.
McQ / Warner Bros
6. Katharine Hepburn: An actress who needs no introduction, her role playing opposite Wayne in 1975 was just a small part of her career. The actors were both 68 when they worked together and got along swimmingly… save for their vastly different political views.
Rooster Cogburn / Hal Wallis Productions
7. Patricia Neal: This actress played a Navy nurse in two films with John Wayne. She is more well-known for her roles in The Day the Earth Stood Still and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Neal was married to British author Roald Dahl.
Operation Pacific / Warner Bros.
8. Gail Russell: In 1947, as divorce proceedings with his first wife unfolded, she accused Russell and Wayne of having an affair after meeting on-set. It was denied, but many believed Russell fell in love with Wayne. Russell tragically died of alcohol-related illness in 1961.
Angel and the Badman / John Wayne Productions
9. Sophia Loren: The 1957 film starring Loren and Wayne, Legend of the Lost, fell short of commercial success, but the chemistry between the two stars was something to behold. Loren admired Wayne, and he gifted her a pair of spurs, which she kept hanging on her wall for years.
Legend of the Lost / United Artists
10. Joanne Dru: She acted in one of the greatest westerns of all time, the 1948 film Red River. Far from having an affair with Wayne, Dru met her second husband, John Ireland, on the set of the movie. Wayne and Dru worked together again in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.
Red River / United Artists
11. Linda Cristal: The Argentine-American actress played opposite Wayne in The Alamo. Wayne portrayed Davy Crockett and Cristal a young woman who became the object of his affections. Her film career didn’t last long, but she had moderate success in television during the 1970s.
The Alamo / United Artists
12. Louise Brooks: In the 1920s and ’30’s, she worked as a silent film actress, dancer, model, and flapper. Wayne acted in her final silent film, Overland Stage Riders. The iconic woman was impressed by Wayne, saying he was “a purely beautiful being.”
Overland Stage Riders / Republic Pictures
13. Vera Miles: Best known for playing Lila Crane in Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho, she also worked with Wayne in the 1950s. In The Searchers she didn’t play a love interest of Wayne but still had a prominent role.
The Searchers / Warner Bros.
14. Angie Dickinson: Wayne and Dickinson acted together in the 1959 film Rio Bravo, which earned the then up-and-coming actress a major award. She was dubbed New Star of the Year and awarded a Golden Globe.
Rio Bravo / Warner Bros.
15. Capucine: In 1960, this beloved french actress and model worked with Wayne on a comedic western called North to Alaska. Though she had commercial success, she struggled with mental health. In 1990, she took her own life.
North to Alaska / 20th Century Fox
16. Claudia Cardinale: As one of Italy’s most famed actresses, she starred with John Wayne in Circus World. She played his daughter in this early role. She is both a star and an activist as she has been a UNESCO ambassador for Women’s Rights for 20 years.
Circus World / Paramount Pictures
17. Dorothy Jordan: Another female costar from The Searchers, Jordan played Wayne’s brother’s wife. Their characters have feelings for each other that go unrequited. Jordan had a short-lived career and became a wife and mother raising three children.
18. Ann-Margret: Loved for her acting and singing talent, she worked with Wayne early on in her career. In the ’60s, Margret was linked to Elvis Presley
The Train Robbers / Warner Bros.
19. Joan O’Brien: Wayne’s real-life daughter played this actress’s daughter in two John Wayne films during the 1960s. O’Brien is no stranger to stardom, having acted with Jerry Lewis, Cary Grant, and other big names. She enjoyed television fame later in the ’60s.
Vimeo / Bernie’s Boy
20. Lauren Bacall: Bacall and Wayne starred in The Shootist in 1976. This would be the his last film before his death in 1979. No romance bloomed between them, as Bacall was famously linked to another Hollywood icon by the name of Humphrey Bogart. And he was quite the character.
The Shootist / Paramount Pictures
Humphrey Bogart’s trademark lisp has become one of his many calling cards, though the impediment nearly cost him his career early on. In fact, Warner Bros. studio head Jack Warner actually hesitated to cast him in major roles because of it.
2. In addition to being an A-list actor, Bogie was also an expert chess player. He frequently out-hustled chess hustlers at corner stores and once beat 40 opponents in a single day.
HumphreyBogartEstate / Tumblr
3. For his role in 1951’s The African Queen, Bogart was asked to do a cockney English accent. When it was revealed that he couldn’t, his character was switched to a Canadian instead.
4. Though the “Rat Pack” moniker is often associated with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, it was Bogie that was the group’s first leader. The term was actually coined by Lauren Bacall, who called the group “a damn rat pack” after a night of heavy drinking.
5. Bogart was born the eldest child of Belmont DeForest Bogart, a cardiovascular surgeon, and Maud Humphrey, a commercial illustrator. As such, his family was incredibly well off, though his parents fought often and rarely showed emotion toward their children.
6. For 1941’s The Maltese Falcon, a single statue was handcrafted for use in the production. Bogie actually ruined the original when he dropped it during filming, forcing the studio to have a second one made.
7. Along with his association with the film itself, Bogart is often linked to his famous Casablanca line “play it again, Sam.” Like many other famous film lines, however, this is a misquote, as the actual line is “play it once, Sam.”
8. While shooting 1948’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Bogart was routinely taking hormone shots in the hope of conceiving a child with Bacall. Unfortunately, the shots made his hair fall out, forcing him to wear a wig throughout the production.
9. Despite Casablanca being his most memorable performance, Bogie didn’t like the film at all. In fact, Orson Welles once claimed that Bogart called it the worst film he’d ever made!
10. After being expelled from the prestigious Phillips Academy, Bogart joined the U.S. Navy in the spring of 1918. Though his time serving was short, Bogie actually went on to play a naval captain in 1954’s The Caine Mutiny.
11. In 1989 — 32 years after his death — Bogart made his final acting appearance in the Tales From the Crypt episode “You, Murderer.” Using unreleased footage, CGI, and a celebrity impressionist, Bogie was brought back from the dead for one final performance.
12. It’s no secret that Bogart was a heavy smoker, puffing two packs of Chesterfields a day. Following his esophageal cancer diagnosis in January 1956, Bogie bit the bullet and switched to filtered cigarettes instead.
13. Bogart’s first film, the ten-minute short Broadway’s Like That, was actually lost until 1963. However, the film’s soundtrack still hasn’t been recovered, leaving it a virtual silent film even today.
14. Believe it or not, Bogie actually had a bit of royalty in his blood. Through American colonialist Thomas Woodford, Bogart and Princess Diana of Wales were ninth cousins once removed!
15. Despite 1944’s To Have and Have Not marking the start of Bogart’s relationship with Lauren Bacall, tensions with director Howard Hanks nearly ruined the love affair. Hanks, who’d also fallen for Bacall, tried everything to ruin the relationship until Jack Warner ultimately intervened.
16. During the filming of The Maltese Falcon, Bogart and his co-star Peter Lorre tried to smoke in as many scenes as possible to annoy Jack Warner. Well, it worked, and Warner threatened to fire them if they didn’t stop.
17. For years, a prevalent rumor asserted that Bogart’s recorded birthday, December 25, was a creation of studio executives and that his real birthday was actually the 23rd. This proved just a rumor, as Bogart celebrated his birthday on Christmas Day for his entire life.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
18. Bogie wasn’t much of a crier, but he always had an unusual soft spot for the original A Star is Born. Every Christmas Day, Bogart would invite friends over for a viewing of the classic film only to excuse himself in a fit of tears midway through.
Selznick International Pictures
19. A frequent co-star of Bogart’s, George Raft actually turned down many of the roles that made Bogie famous. The leads in The Maltese Falcon, High Sierra, and even Casablanca were all offered to Raft before Bogart took them.
20. Bogart’s first child Stephen was actually named for his character Steve Morgan in To Have and Have Not. Yet the young Bogart didn’t just inherit a name from his father — he inherited the spotlight, too.
When Stephen Bogart first opened his baby blues in 1949, the little tyke had no clue he was already kind of a big deal. His parents were two of the most revered stars of the iconic Golden Age of Hollywood: Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart.
Previous to becoming a dad, Humphrey cemented his spot as acting royalty. His star took time to rise, but he quietly impressed in his initial acting roles. Evolving from Broadway to Hollywood films, Humphrey found the big break that defined him as a gangster extraordinaire in The Petrified Forest.
Audiences grew used to Bogie in tough-guy gangster roles, so it came as a pleasant surprise when Casablanca unveiled the romantic hidden beneath those heavy-lidded eyes. This tender side was all too familiar to his future wife — Lauren Bacall.
Movie Clips / YouTube
Bacall herself won the hearts of audiences, critics, and Humphrey right from her silver screen debut. The first film she appeared in was their romance-adventure To Have and Have Not. From then on the pair were inseparable.
Early in their love story scandal reigned supreme: Humphrey was already married and Bacall was just 19 to his 44-years-old. Scheduling fueled their electric chemistry, as they continued right into subsequent production for their next film, The Big Sleep.
Three months after the ink dried on Bogie’s divorce papers, he and Bacall, whom he fondly called Baby, swapped vows in a quaint countryside ceremony on May 21st, 1945. But that didn’t slow down their careers.
During their honeymoon period, the actors made two more films together, Dark Passage and Key Largo. As their relationship grew stronger, they set their sights on a new milestone.
After sewing up their latest film romances, Bogart and Bacall decided it was time to start a family. Welcoming their son, Stephen Humphrey Bogart, named for a character in the movie they met making.
Time Goes By
Soon, the power couple welcomed a second child, daughter Leslie Howard, in 1952. Of course, they continued their tradition of using their films as name inspirations, taking hers from Bogart’s costar in The Petrified Forest.
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Leslie grew up and pursued totally not entertainment-related endeavors, becoming a nurse and passionate yogi. She shares her passions with husband, prominent yoga guru and author Erich Schiffmann.
The usually private, Leslie gave a rare interview to Harper’s Bazaar about her parents in 2015. She remembered, “My mother always described my father…as very sentimental and romantic. He often gave her beautiful jewelry — and almost every piece was engraved with a sweet sentence or thought and his initials or name.”
With three failed marriages in the books, it took Humphrey a while to find his truest love. Both of them publicly and privately adored each other. So, it was tragic and unfair that their marriage and family life came to an abrupt, and rather grim, end.
The film Goliath is remembered for his toughness and a particular brand of masculinity. But sadly, Bogie wasn’t invincible. When the doctor delivered the news his terminal diagnosis he felt destroyed: esophageal cancer.
Only a few final months together followed. Bacall later recalled in her memoir the torturous decline. She wrote: “He looked so unlike Bogie — still mercifully unconscious…enclosed in another world, protected not by me, but by those raised bedsides, with those bottles and tubes sustaining life.” He died at 57 years old in 1957.
After his father’s death, Stephen recalled what life was like being raised by his single mother. “I think she eventually started to do things she wanted to do for herself,” he said. “She always wanted to move back to New York because her mother lived there. And I think that was important for her. And she also got into theater.”
Bacall remarried in 1961 to actor Jason Robards, and eventually gave her son and daughter a half brother named Sam. Ultimately the marriage didn’t last; alcohol addiction led to their divorce in 1969.
Sam was the only one of Bacall’s children to inherit the acting gene. His most notable role was as Henry Swinton in Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Plus he nabbed a Tony Award for Best Actor in the 2002 play The Man Who Had All The Luck.
The Epoch Times
Talk about pressure to succeed. Sam commented on his unique position, “They made me realize what the dedication of a professional was. I’ve often found myself doing a scene and then realizing, ‘Gee, I’m playing my father in this scene.’ My mother is probably a little discouraged with me because I’m not quite as intense about standards as she is.”
Of Bacall’s children, Stephen has definitely been the most forthcoming about growing up a Bogart. He published a memoir in 1995 called In Search of My Father, which largely unraveled the thought process of losing his famous father at just 8 years old, and slowly coming to realize his mammoth legacy.
Toronto Public Library
“When my father died there were 3,000 people I didn’t know at the funeral,” he said. “I figured there was something different. And there certainly was.” For Stephen, it’s difficult to untangle the unfairness of Humphrey Bogart existing forevermore on the silver screen when his children got so little time to get to know the off-camera version of their father.
Morrison Hotel Gallery
No matter what Stephen accomplishes, he wears, honorably, a “big red-lettered label that hangs from me. It doesn’t say ‘Steve.’ It says, HUMPHREY BOGART’S SON.” It’s a daunting task to walk in the wake of Bogie’s legacy, but Lauren Bacall taught her children to wear their last name with pride.
In his book, Stephen described the lessons Bacall ingrained in them that their father never could, “She wanted me to remember that he didn’t like to lie,” he said. “He wasn’t a liar. She always used to pound that into me. Don’t lie. Tell the truth. That was a big deal.”
Stephen explained that even though his mother moved on, her heart always belonged to the late Humphrey Bogart, “She would talk about him all the time. It was almost like, ‘What would your father think?’ or ‘Your father believed in treating people correctly.'”
Bogie notoriously loved sailing, and Stephen recalled a cherished memory on the family yacht Santana. “Eventually, finally, when I learned how to swim, we would go out on the boat,” he said. “I remember going to Catalina Island and swimming back to the Santana. I made it and he was very proud of me at that time…That kind of pride sticks with you.”
Stephen was struck by the example of true love he recognized in his parents despite his young age. After long days on set, the lovebirds would share an intimate dinner, without their children, as a special reprieve just for the two of them.
Call it what you will, but the Bogart Bacall household prioritized date nights. “It was the age in the ’50s when kids were seen, not heard. Parents had dinners — at least my mother and father did — with the adults. But they were in love. And they were good together. They were man and wife.”
Speaking about what drew his parents together, Stephen acknowledged the obvious, “She was pretty good looking. She was 19, and he was 44. But I think it was her strength. She was a strong woman. She didn’t take crap from anybody. He thought she was very talented as well, but she could also keep up with him.”
Stephen and his siblings laid their mother to rest in 2014. Bacall died at age 89, after a long, beautiful life. She was buried in the same final resting place as her late husband, and other notable forces of Hollywood, in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in California.
In the wake of his mother’s passing, Stephen was asked by Fox News about what he missed most about his mother. Growing up with one parent, the loss affected him deeply, “Just the fact that she’s not here anymore,” he said. “Being able to talk to her.”
He revealed that the end of Lauren Bacall’s life was a challenge. Her outgoing, vibrant personality was restricted to mostly staying in bed. “She was used to getting up and doing things, going out. She had assistants there for her all the time if she needed them. But I think it was a very tough time for her, those last few years.”
Stephen, now in his seventies, lives in Florida with his wife. They share 3 children and dote on their 1 grandchild. A documentarian, author, and news producer, he never bothered with the family trade. “How do you compete with that?” he mused. “The comparisons would have been obvious. No, never.”
Sheepishly he added, “Plus, I was lousy at it. I was in a couple of plays in high school. I wasn’t very good. I couldn’t do it…It’s not an easy thing to do, to be someone else.” Instead, he honors the family by serving as the co-managing partner of the Humphrey Bogart Estate, he’s vowed to uphold and preserve his father’s legacy.
In 2018, they lent Bogie’s name to a brand of spirits; Humphrey himself loved a well-made drink. “He preferred gin and whiskey,” Stephen said. “Some of his favorite cocktails were martinis — which were made with gin in those days — gin and tonics, Manhattans and Old Fashioneds.”
Cigars and Spirits
Each year, Bogart Film Festival pays tribute to Stephen’s famous father, “We’re trying to do stuff that will reach a lot of people. We try and do things that not only keeps him alive but [also] classic Hollywood alive. There’s a lot of great movies now…but I think there’s still room for classic Hollywood.”
It’s guaranteed that generations ahead will still fondly celebrate the cigarette-in-hand, smooth-talking Humphery Bogart. Not just for his iconic filmography, but for his once-in-a-lifetime romance with his most beautiful leading lady, Lauren Bacall.