Bogart’s On Television — But Not For Long 🇺🇸
Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey Bogart, known to their friends as “Bogey” and “Baby,” are scheduled to do their first co-starring live TV stint this Monday, May 30. They’ve been cast as the bad man and the good girl in the Producers’ Showcase version of “The Petrified Forest,” NBC’s first dramatic show from its new Burbank, Cal., color studio.
This “first” may well be a “last.” Mr. and Mrs. Bogart are—and intend to remain — strictly motion picture people.
However, Bogart, a rather small man with deceptively husky shoulders and an interestingly-lined face, denies, more or less patiently, that he has ever made any really nasty remarks about television. Variety, a show business publication, quoted him a year ago as having said, in effect, that only movie has-beens find it necessary to get into television.
Queried by TV GUIDE shortly afterward, he hedged a bit: “No form of dramatic art is a haven just for has-beens, and television — these days, anyway — very definitely shows signs of being a dramatic art. My own personal feeling, however, is that I won’t go into TV until I feel myself slipping.”
Today Bogart suggests, with a tight smile somewhat reminiscent of a male Mona Lisa, that his opinions on the subject have been misinterpreted. “What I said,” he insists, “and what I still say, is that a man can’t work in both mediums at the same time, and I am a motion picture man.
“Reporters always get things twisted. I once said 90 percent of movie actresses are dumb dames. I figured every one of ’em would automatically include herself in the 10 percent escape clause I’d left ’em, but they jumped all over me. So I have since amended the statement. Ninety-five percent of all movie actresses are dumb dames.”
That’s what the man says. But he smiles, almost warmly, when he says it. Presumably, the woods are full of five percenters.
In a more serious vein, which Bogart can turn on like a spigot and which is his warmest and most likeable side, Hollywood’s well-publicized tough guy gets almost soft-headed on the subject of “The Petrified Forest.”
“Pure nostalgia,” he admits. “That’s the only reason I’m doing this show. And I doubt very, very much that I’ll do any more television after this.
“But ‘Petrified Forest’ is the show that made me. It also made me a lot of money. I did it first with Leslie Howard on Broadway back around 1935. I forget just when. We made the picture at Warners a year later — Leslie and myself and Bette Davis. It’s a real easy role. I just sit there all by myself in the corner and look tough. And it’s a great role for Betty.” (“Betty” is what Mrs. Bogart is called when she isn’t being called “Lauren” or “Baby.”)
Henry Fonda, it should be added, will do the Howard role.
Bogart’s first TV appearance was with Jack Benny two years ago; his second, with Ed Murrow on Person to Person; his third and fourth, as a host-presenter on the Academy Award telecasts in which the nominations were made and the Oscars awarded.
“I might do another show with Benny,” he admits, “but that’s all. I’m too old to be stage-struck any more. Whatever ‘ham’ is left in me is pretty well salted down at this point. Besides, as I keep saying, I’m a motion picture man. It’s been my living and a pretty good one. I still say you can’t do both.
“Look what’s happened to Donald O’Connor — just plain beat physically. Maybe a movie guy can do an occasional TV shot, just as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz do an occasional movie, but you can’t work both sides of the street at once. All you get out of it is ulcers.”
Bogart is critical of the over-all TV picture, complaining of the “long, dull hours” of old movies and routine crime shows, but he nevertheless spends a good deal of time in front of his set. He admires the hour-long New York live dramatic shows, particularly Studio One and Kraft Theater, and considers Sid Caesar one of the great comic talents.
With two children in the house (Stephen, 6, and Leslie, 3), the case-hardened Bogart is even more case-hardened on the subject of children’s shows. “I’m an expert,” he says wryly, “on Captain Video, Captain Jet, Ramar of the Jungle and that guy who is so good at getting the kids to drink milk.” He is also an expert on, and avid fan of, Time for Beany.
Bogart dismisses, with the air of a Willie Mays facing a mediocre pitcher, any fears that he might freeze up when faced with a live TV camera for 90 on-stage minutes after all his years in the comfortable “Let’s shoot it again” movie business.
“Naw,” he shrugs. “Nothin’ to it.”
New Husband-And-Wife Team On TV: Bogart & Bogart
‘Bogey,’ ‘Baby’ and their boxers are frequently in the TV audience.
Source: TV Guide, March 1955