The Pets | Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall's Boxers
— August 15, 2012 —
In this monthly column, AnOther meets notable owners and their beloved pets
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall with their pet boxer, Harvey, at their Benedict Canyon home, CA, 1948 Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were the Hollywood love story of their era. Meeting on the set of To Have and Have Not, the 45-year-old Bogart fell for the nineteen-year old ingénue within weeks, a reaction that was shared by the wider public when she delivered the iconic line, “You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and... blow.”
In comparison to Bogart’s three previous marriages, their twelve years together were happy and contented, with shared passions outweighing conflicts of interest. A key common ground was a mutual love of dogs. Bogart had owned a wide array over the years, including a vast Newfoundland terrier called Cappy, a couple of Sealyhams and Scottish Terriers. In the 1941 film High Sierra, Zero, Bogart’s frizzy haired mutt of indeterminate breed, played the key role of Pard with such aplomb that he was cast again the same year in Law of the Timber. Bacall’s dog history featured a “champagne cocker spaniel” called Droopy and his daughter Puddle.
"Harvey was really smart. He knew he wasn't allowed to get on the furniture so he would only put two paws on at a time, and he would sit between us if we had a fight."
From the day of their marriage in 1945, however, there was one breed that would dominate – the Boxer. Presented with a week old puppy as a wedding present by the Pullitzer Prize winning author Louis Bromfield, Lauren Bacall recalls, “We named him Harvey, after the invisible rabbit. He was really smart. He knew he wasn't allowed to get on the furniture so he would only put two paws on at a time, and he would sit between us if we had a fight.” They soon acquired two more, George and Baby, who roamed their Californian estate amid a menagerie that also included fourteen chickens and eight ducks. But Harvey was clearly their favourite – playing a starring role in many of the photographs taken of the couple. And it was a connection that lasted to the end. “Harvey died six months after Bogey,” Bacall remembers. “I went to see him at the vet's and said goodbye. Five minutes after I got home, I was told that after I left, Harvey had eaten his dinner and died.”
Text by Tish Wrigley