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October 12, 2021

Humphrey Bogart’s Wife Lauren Bacall’s ‘Worst Nightmare’ Was His Mistress of 17 Years

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Verita Thompson called herself Humphery Bogart’s wife. She was also Lauren Bacall’s worst nightmare, as she had an affair with her iconic actor husband for almost their entire marriage. 

In 1982, 25 years after Humphrey Bogart’s death, Verita Thompson published her book, “Bogie & Me,” which details the pair’s love affair, which started in 1942 and ended shortly before his death.

THE WIG MAKER

Thompson was born Verita Bouvaire to an Irish father and Mexican mother and spent most of her youth in Mexico. Finally, she made her way to Hollywood after coming second in a Miss Arizona pageant.

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She entered Hollywood as an actress. However, after an accident involving a horse on a Western movie set broke her arm, Thompson found herself recovering in Mexico.

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Acting was never Thompson’s calling as she once said herself, “I didn’t know a d--- thing about acting and still don’t.” Luckily during her recovery, she would find her next carer move; wig-making and hairdressing. 

Thompson honed her new skill and found herself another way into the Hollywood movie scene through a French wig maker who could not get an entry Visa into the USA and his huge quantity of French lace and hair.

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Her career was on the up, and she found herself hairstyling a few of Hollywood’s elite men and women. She specialized in toupees, so she had an impressive client list of leading actors including, Charles Boyer, Ray Milland, Gary Cooper, and eventually Bogart.

THE AFFAIR

Thompson met the “Casablanca” actor while at the film’s wrap party. She had been invited to the event by one of her closest friends, actress Ann Sheridan. According to Thompson, Bogart could not keep his eyes off of her.

So after a night of drinking and dancing together, they made a plan to go on a date. However, there was one problem. The pair were both married. Bogart was married to Mayo Methot, and Thompson was married to film technician Robert Peterson.

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But their partners were not a deterrent for their developing relationship as Bogart and Thompson made time for each other and found ways to make their secret affair work.

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For example, when Thompson’s husband was away on war service, their home quickly became where the lovers met and further developed their relationship. 

Later, Bogart eventually added her to his permanent staff as his personal secretary. Under the ruse as his hairdresser and secretary, the pair kept their affair going for 17 years. 

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Thompson worked on 14 of his movies during their secret relationship and regularly attended dinners with his last wife, Lauren Bacall, and their children.

Although she disagreed with being involved in Bogart’s home life, “The Maltese Falcon” actor pointed out that suspicion about their relationship might arise if she did not act as his employee. 

Although Thompson and Bogart never married, they seemed perfect for each other. Thompson matched Bogart’s thirsty drinking habits and his strong love for harsh and cuss language. They regularly drank what Bogart called loudmouths, a mix of scotch and soda. 

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Thompson once said of their relationship, “He always said we’d make a perfect couple because we were so much alike, and I naturally agreed with him, but later I began having misgivings.”

THE FOURTH WIFE

Bogart divorced Methot, who was his third wife during his affair with Thomspon. However, he did not marry her. Instead, he found his fourth wife and mother to his children, Lauren Bacall.

A 45-year-old Bogart met a 19-year-old Bacall on the set of her first leading role in “To Have and Have Not.” Despite their 25 year age gap and Bogart’s wife, sparks flew between the costars.

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Their affair, which started when Bogart visited Bacall’s trailer and kissed her, would later result in a 12-year long marriage and their two children, Leslie and Stevie.

After their first meeting, their relationship quickly progressed. “To Have and Have Not” premiered in Jan of 1945, and a few months later, Bogart and Methot’s divorce was finalized. 

Two weeks after the divorce finalization, Bacall and Bogart tied the knot on May 21, 1945. They became known as one of Hollywood’s greatest couples. They would stay married until Bogart’s death from esophageal cancer in 1957.

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Besides developing a romantic relationship, they also forged a unique working relationship, as they starred in a few of the greatest noir films Hollywood has ever seen.

THE SINATRA AFFAIR

Around the time of Bogart’s cancer diagnosis, Bacall and singer Frank Sinatra started having an affair. Sinatra and the couple had been close friends, so Bacall and the “Fly Me To The Moon” singer knew each other well.

Along with other young Hollywood stars (Including Judy Garland, Sid Luft, Nathaniel Benchley), they formed a tight-knit group of friends, dubbed the Holmby Hills Rat Pack — named after the neighborhood the border of Beverly Hills and Bel Air.

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Bacall once said Bogart “was somewhat jealous of Frank” because “he knew I loved being with him, partly because he thought Frank was in love with me, and partly because our physical life together, which had always ranked high, had less than flourished with his illness.”

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After Bogart passed away, Sinatra and Bacall came public with their relationships and were seen in public together at dinners out, film premieres, and other red carpet events.

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On March 11, 1958, Sinatra asked for Bacall’s hand in marriage, which was a proposal the deeply in love Bacall had wanted and had been waiting for quite some time. Unfortunately, their engagement was short-lived.

When the media began to report of the impending nuptials, Sinatra adamantly denied any engagement, even telling his first wife, Ava Gardner, “I was never going to marry that pushy female.”

Bacall would later marry her second husband, Jason Robards. Still, she would never escape the perception of having the greatest love story with Bogart or the harsh reality of his affair with his personal secretary.

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LIFE AFTER BOGART

Bogart and Thompson’s affair ended in 1955 when she married producer Walter Thompson. However, she remained a friend of Bogart and Bacall until the actor’s death two years later. 

She claimed that Bogart called her and asked her to join him on his boat while on his deathbed. Once she arrived, she thought he knew he was dying because the boat was freshly painted, ready to be sold if he passed. 

He also continued to call her by the nickname Peter until his death. The name was based on Thompson’s first husband, Peterson, because that was her surname when they met.

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After Thompson’s second husband died in 1975, she opened Verita’s La Cantina restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. After her book was published, she opened a piano bar of the same name as the title in New Orleans.

Thompson passed away in 2008 and will always be known as the woman who knew two of Bogart’s biggest secrets: he was bald, and his seemingly perfect relationship with Lauren Bacall was riddled with an affair.

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