Things I don’t like about myself
Humphrey Bogart (as told to Sara Hamilton)
I haven’t the guts to stop smoking. To even try. I don’t like it. It shows lack of stamina. Got a cigarette on you, kiddie?
Maybe I should have ambition, Maybe it’s better to be one of those up and raring guys. But I figure my bosses know what they’re doing. They must be making money on the pictures they put me into or I wouldn’t be ere. Still, maybe I should fuss more, but me down as not liking the fact I haven’t too much ambition.
Take my clothes, now. Maybe I should dress up more. Mayo says she hasn’t been able to get shoes on my feet since we’ve been married. She’s right. I have two pairs of shoes I’ve had for ten years, bought them in New York and never wear ’em unless I go back there. I wear these soft sandals all the time.
Maybe I should be more formal in my dress, but look, I figure this is a tropical climate, isn’t it? Okay, why get done up like Park Avenue to prowl rough the mulberry bushes to get to someone’s house? Why not dress to fit the place? Or am I wrong? Put me down as saying I should dress up more. But don’t say I don’t like it in myself, kiddie. I love it.
Gastronomically. I like steak or chops for dinner and that’s it. My own wife refuses, at times, to have any part of me at meal times. Says she can’t look another steak or chop in the face. So then she gets fed up she threatens to eat alone in some other part of the house. I like my food plain and none of this business of hiding it under gravy or sauce. I want to see what I eat. And none of this dessert business, either. Jello draped up like the Empire State Building or cup custards a la mode may be all right but not for me.
Yes, sir, I’m a difficult man when it comes to food. Can’t take a mouthful of coffee in the morning without heaving. Here I am ready to murder off a half dozen guys on the set in another hour and what do I do? I drink tea for breakfast. Isn’t that a laugh?
And look at this lunch. Cast your eyes over it. Bacon and eggs and toast. And every day, mind you, I make up my mind in the morning I’m going to have something different for lunch, see. All morning while I’m strangling some actor to death I think to myself, “Shall I have a salad or lamb chops?” What do I end up with eggs and bacon. The waiter doesn’t even take my order any more. He sees me coming and that’s it.
Humphrey Bogart: I don’t like work too much
I hate myself for choosing a profession that gets me up at dawn. I hate myself all the way to the studio and into the make-up room, “Boys Town,” I call it. There we sit, the glamour boys waiting to be made beautiful and feeling like a snail’s grandmother.
Frankly, I don’t like this work too much, so put me down on the wrong side of the ledger on that one. This awful morning rising business kills me. Mayo has to prop me up or I’d curl up after my tea and go to sleep. Come to think of it, that’s what I do. I should like my work more. So put that down as my own black mark against me.
I hate actors that are temperamental. But let me shoot a lousy game of golf or do a bad scene, and I get temperamental as all get-out. Mayo knows it the minute I open the gate at night, too. Something about the way I walk, I guess. Gives me away. I hate that in myself. Even hate telling it. Look at Tobruk and Pearl Harbor and then figure out why anyone should get mad over a golf game. Or a bad scene.
I loathe women in uniform unless they’re on a field of battle or employed in a hospital or Red Cross work. But these women that fuss around in uniforms in wartime — I hate. I don’t like myself for caring that much.
I hate myself because I don’t want to be a major. With so many people grabbing off commissions, why don’t I want to? I want to be a private. But I suppose I should want to be a major. Is that dumb?
I like to take what contribution to our defense I can give in my Coast Guard work seriously. I get mad when someone else doesn’t. For instance, I was ferrying supplies back and forth between ship the other night when I noticed one gun sight kept following me everywhere. Naturally, I got nervous after an hour of this and finally steered my boat over. “Hey, what’s the idea?” I asked and, brother, I was nervous.
“I hoped you’d come over, Mr. Bogart,” the voice from the ship said. “I’d sure like your autograph.”
Maybe I should hate myself for not making a lot of friends, eh? What do you think? Friendship to me isn’t just meeting and knowing a lot of people. It goes deeper than that. So I skip the mob. Louis Bromfield is one of my best friends. A friend on every occasion. So is Chester Morris.
If I’m wrong in hating actors with messages, put down another black mark, for it’s one thing I can’t stand, these actors with messages who take themselves and their messages seriously. They know where they can take them as far as I’m concerned.
I don’t like the idea of not behaving like an actor. Where’s my station wagon, for instance? Or my beret? Or my pipe clutched in my teeth as I sit before the fire with my dog? I’m a dud of an actor. I let people down because I have no gun. No color. No boyish bob that curls up over my ears. How my memoirs will smell!
Believe it or not, I haven’t even a rubdown table in my home. Or a rock bath built into a gymnasium. I don’t go for this body beautiful stuff or 110 ways to have a slim waistline. Actors that make a fetish of fancy exercising bore me.
I hate being the guy around the studio that hates the most going to the still gallery to have pictures taken. Taking a picture of me is like pulling my tooth. I want none of it.
I don’t like myself for keeping to small, compact rooms. Take our living room, for instance. It’s a large beautiful room, but Mayo and I are never in it. Just lately we go in and just sit there for a few minutes to get used to it, but we always end up in the den as usual. If I were building a house, I’d build the rooms like drawing rooms on the train, where you could sit and reach everything.
Humphrey Bogart: Chitchat bores me
I loathe formal dinners as well as formal drawing rooms. I like to eat when I eat and talk afterwards in peace and comfort; chitchat bores me almost as much as regimented conversation. Give me good talk every time. I disappoint people anyway. Everyone expects an actor to talk. I like to listen. So I’m either branded dumb or moody.
I don’t like myself for not being able to control my temper. And why do I get into these arguments that I care nothing about? Trying to be nice, to argue politely with people I care nothing about, and what happens — I’m in a temper — and why should I be?
If I lose my temper I want it to be with someone swell like Mayo, where we can have a lot of fun fighting it out But what’s even worse–I can’t stay mad at anybody even when I’m right. Now where’s the character in that?
My values are wrong. A thief attempted to steal my car the other night and I refused to get hot and bothered because I was fully covered by insurance. Like a nitwit, I was almost happy about it, never realizing insurance could not get me a new set of tires. That’s just an example.
Little things can become an obsession with me. Like sugar bowls. I can’t even sit at a table that holds a sugar bowl, simply because the sound of sugar grating drives me wild. Fine thing for a tough guy, isn’t it?
The latest dance steps mean nothing to me. All I can do with the conga or rhumba is hang on and drag ’em around. Another thing. I don’t like myself for being the kind of guy that reads murder mysteries to cure insomnia. Give me three good gory murders and I’m off to sleep while the corpses are still warm. I don’t like actors who insist on whitewashed publicity.
I’d hate myself if I did. So put me down as not liking myself for not liking myself purified.
Got a cigarette, kiddie?
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Source publication: Photoplay
Publication date: August 1942