Making the distinction was the goal Bogart, now 46 and a TV producer turned author, set in writing his new book, Bogart: In Search of My Father (see excerpt, page 136). It became a journey of self-discovery as well. He was one of Hollywood's most anticipated firstborns—President Truman bet Bogie $20 the baby would be a girl. A first-time father at 49, Bogie dined with his kids only occasionally, and Stephen says he rarely hugged him. But father and son were just getting close when death came. "All of a sudden I went from being just a kid to being the son of an icon who had died," says Bogart. Moving added to his confusion: "Everything that was supposed to be a constant wasn't. My reaction was, since we were leaving everything, I was supposed to forget about him too. So I did." Bogart's wife, Barbara, 36, offers another reason: "He was denying the fact that his father was this movie star. He wanted his own identity."
In 1984, Bogart says, "I felt it was time to confront my past." To learn more, he turned to friends of his father's, including Katharine Hepburn and Art Buchwald. He heard how Bogie and actor Raymond Massey tried to out-macho one another performing their own stunts in 1943's Action in the North Atlantic and how his father felt snubbed when William Holden didn't invite him for drinks during the filming of Sabrina. "He wasn't a tough guy at all," says Bogart. "I thought he'd be fun to be with."
He also details his father's failings—notably a rumored extramarital dalliance with a hairdresser in the '40s and a prodigious taste for booze. His father's flaws, Bogart suggests, helped put his own in perspective. Expelled from two colleges for cutting classes, he married his then-girlfriend Dale Gemmelli in 1969, after she became pregnant. (Bogart remains close to their son Jamie, 25, who has a degree in wildlife management.) They divorced in 1984. By then, Bogart had a communications degree from the University of Hartford, a job at NBC—and a cocaine habit.
But that year he also met Barbara Bruchmann, herself an ex-heroin addict, who had once dated Stephen's half brother Sam, a child of Bacall's second marriage, to actor Jason Ro-bards. Bruchmann, now a part-time real estate agent, steered Bogart to Narcotics Anonymous, and he credits her with his recovery. Wed in 1985, they live in suburban New Jersey with their son Richard, 9, and daughter Brooke, 6, in a home filled with memorabilia from his parents' careers, including Bogie's Best Actor Oscar for The African Queen. Last year, Bogart quit a job at Court TV after signing the contract for his memoir. Last spring he also published his first detective novel, Play It Again, whose hero, R.J. Brooks, is the son of a movie legend. But Stephen regards Bogart as a greater milestone. "Writing was cathartic," he says. "It took a long time to find out who I was. Now I'm proud to be Humphrey Bogart's son."
TOBY KAHN in New Jersey
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