Everyone knows that Hollywood biographies are fun to read. And everyone knows you have to take much of what’s written with a grain of salt. Or in some instances a POUND of salt.
In a used bookstore not long ago Joe found a copy of an amusing tome, The Secret Life of Humphrey Bogart: The Early years –(1899-1931).
“When I’m reading it, I can’t put it down. Then again when I’m not reading it it’s hard to pick up.”
When pressed for the meaning of that phrase all Joe can say is that the book is entertaining, infuriating and a lot of bull, and one can’t believe anything in it.
According to the author, Darwin Porter, almost everyone Bogie encounters in Hollywood of the years the book covers is — gay.
He catches, for example, Spencer Tracy in bed with Lew Ayres (below).
Ayres is perhaps best recalled for his starring role in 1930’s All Quiet on the Western Front and for his performances in the title role of nine Dr. Kildare features. To make the sexual angle more complex here, Ayres eventually had an affair with actress Jane Wyman while she was married to Ronald Reagan.
What’s more, our Bogie book asserts that the Rick’s Cafe proprietor had to endure a cruel mother who forced him to pose nude in front of art classes. What a Hoot.
Porter has written other books about celebrities, but this one is the wildest. Supposedly the information came from Kenneth MacKenna (a pal of Bogie’s in the early days) via Stanley Mills Haggart, a former partner of Porter’s.
MacKenna was married to Kay Francis from 1931 to 1933 (he was the fourth of her five husbands) then in 1938 married Mary Philips, the stage star who’d been Bogart’s wife for a decade beginning in 1928.
Francis, by the way, was a big star in the Thirties who was once dubbed “The Queen of Warner Brothers.” Philips was the second of Bogart’s four spouses.
MacKenna’s real name was Leo Mielziner and his brother was the set designer Jo Mielziner.
It’s all very incestuous in this book. And there’s all sorts of sex going on at every turn.
Maybe you can’t believe ANYTHING you read !