The Death of Humphrey Bogart

The Death of Humphrey Bogart

By Samuel Phineas Upham

Humphrey Bogart’s hang-dog expression is an iconic vision of the Golden Age of cinema. He is symbolic of classic films, his visage that of an entire generation of people. He was one of the founders of the Hollywood Rat Pack, whose sole purpose was to “drink a lot of bourbon and stay up late.”


Such was the life of Humphrey Bogart, which is why his death at the age of 57 was so tragic. Bogart, nicknamed “Bogie” by friends and family, was a heavy smoker and a frequent drinker. By the middle of the 1950’s, signs of esophageal cancer were beginning to show. He developed a persistent cough, and had great difficulty eating food.

His refusal to see a doctor until 1956 only worsened his condition. Surgeons removed his esophagus, two lymph nodes and a rib but the progression of the disease was too far along. Even with chemotherapy, the prognosis was not good. Soon, Bogart was weak, frail and unable to walk around his own home.

The day before his death, he saw Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy for the last time. As the couple departed for the evening, they took a final moment to talk with Bogart. Spencer patted him on the shoulder and said “Goodnight Bogie,” and he touched Tracy’s hand and said “Goodbye Spence.”

Bogart’s death was one of the more morose moments in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Although he’d become an independent producer by that point, his concept of himself was never inflated. He was fondly remembered in John Huston’s eulogy, where Huston said “He is quite irreplaceable. There will never be another like him.”

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Samuel Phineas Upham website or Twitter.