Did Lauren Bacall cheat on Humphrey Bogart with Adlai Stevenson?

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Lauren Bacall is one of my favorite Old Hollywood stars. Her insolent screen persona captivated me the first time I saw her in The Big Sleep. She’s good at playing the hard-boiled, tough-as-nails film noir heroine, but she also has something soft and vulnerable that makes you like her character. Lauren, who in real life went by Betty, fell in love with Humphrey Bogart on the set of To Have and Have Not, when she was 19 and he was 44. (For what it’s worth, Bogie was annoyed when he heard he’d be starring opposite a 19-year-old and complained that he would look like a cradle robber. But then, LOL, they started dating.) Bogie and Bacall got married and starred in four films together, three of which are very good. They’ve long been held up as one of the legendary couples of that era, along with Tracy and Hepburn, Liz and Dick, and Frank and Ava. Their marriage was supposedly the happiest one in Hollywood. But the 25-year-age gap created a power imbalance in the relationship that never really went away. Bogie was rumored to have had a long-running affair with the lady who made his toupees (of all people!), even while he was married to Betty. And Betty definitely had eyes for Frank Sinatra at one point, who was a supportive friend when Bogie was dying of esophageal cancer in 1957. But a new book about the Bogie and Bacall marriage is alleging that Betty also had eyes for politician Adlai Stevenson. Emma Chance at Pajiba has a great writeup about this story:

Hollywood historian William J. Mann’s latest venture is Bogie & Bacall: The Surprising True Story of Hollywood’s Greatest Love Affair. In a passage from the book given to Entertainment Weekly before it was officially published, Mann uses Bacall’s own words from her memoir to investigate “Bacall’s fascination with United States politician and presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson,” and it becomes “clear the two had, at the least, an emotional affair, if not also a physical one. An affair that Bogart was somewhat wary of.”

Bacall and Bogart joined Stevenson on his campaign in 1952. She wrote in her memoir that he would “catch my eye and wave and smile at me,” and that he “needed a wife, someone to share his life with.”

“I fantasized that I would be a long-distance partner … a good friend he could feel free to talk with about anything.” She goes on to describe their friendship in more detail, and her feelings about it. Basically, she wanted him and struggled with that wanting because, duh, she was married.

[From Pajiba]

And here’s a section from the excerpt of the new book Bogie & Bacall:

On election night, Bogie had a virus and stayed back at the hotel. Bacall did not stick around to care for him. “Having come this far,” she wrote, “I was not about to miss anything.” At the governor’s mansion, the expectant jubilation quickly turned into despair as Eisenhower won in a landslide. Bacall was overcome as she listened to Stevenson make his concession speech. “I sobbed my way back to our room,” Bacall wrote, where she found Bogie more upset about running out of quarters for the pay TV set than he was about the election. “Until Adlai Stevenson, I was a perfectly happy woman with a husband whom I loved—a beautiful son and daughter—some success in my work—a beautiful home—money—not a care in the world.” But Stevenson, she wrote, “shook me up completely.” On the flight back to L.A., “I was far away from Bogie,” Bacall admitted, “my thoughts on the man I had left behind.”

[From EW]

The excerpt goes on to detail an emotional affair that went on for months, and Betty definitely tried to get intimate with him at least once. It was only when she saw another “devoted follower” of his with him at his house that she realized she was just one of a number and then she was over Adlai for good. Betty was so young when she married Bogie–she was 20–and she had never really dated that much before him. I’ve read her memoir (it is superb!) and I think she hints that she was still a virgin when they met. So by the time she was 28, it makes sense that her eye would start to wander. And I think Bogie understood that, too, on some level. Their relationship began as an extramarital affair. When he started seeing Betty, he was still married to Mayo Methot, another actress. Mayo was a violent alcoholic and Bogie made Betty wait around for months while he dithered. Mayo would stop drinking and he’d feel obligated to go back to her to try to make the marriage work. Then Mayo would start drinking again and they’d get in terrific fights and he’d call Betty, angry and despairing, and they’d resume their affair. Betty also had an absent father, so it’s not hard to see why her attraction to 44-year-old Bogie was so overwhelming. And for Bogie, Betty felt like a chance at redemption. It’s all very much like a Lana Del Rey song without the drug references. But to me it’s a fascinating story. This new book is going to be my beach read for sure.

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73 Responses to “Did Lauren Bacall cheat on Humphrey Bogart with Adlai Stevenson?”

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  1. Delphine says:

    Sometimes the tea isn’t piping hot it’s more like iced tea but it’s still good tea.

    • HeyJude says:

      The piping hot tea is her and Sinatra roughly around the end of Bogie’s life and right after. You’re welcome in advance.

    • ELX says:

      Adlai was somewhat famous for collecting ladies with crushes on the “poor, noble Stevenson” but Marietta Tree was his mistress.

  2. Tessa says:

    In her memoir she detailed all. It was on an emotional level only.

    • Bettyrose says:

      I was going to say the same. In the memoir I read she talks about having been very inexperienced and emotionally young when she met Bogie. She had flirtations and crushes because she was so young but never crossed the line as she knew it was a deal breaker for him. Plus she was madly in love with him.

    • BeanieBean says:

      That’s what I remember, too. I read it a long time ago, but Bogie was it for Bacall (while married). And both of them campaigned for Stevenson.

      • bettyrose says:

        They were very progressive for their era. They we were also very active in protesting the House Unamerican Activities Committee, which was very risky and could have cost both of them their careers, or worse. Lesser known detail, she was cousins with Shimon Peres of the Israeli labor party (both born with the last name Perske).

  3. HeyKay says:

    Nope. I don’t care to hear all this.
    They have both been long dead, R.I.P.

  4. Chaine says:

    They look like dad and college aged daughter in the photos. Creepy then, creepy now.

    • Toast Panda says:

      I think people don’t like to hear that because they’re considered such an iconic couple. Maybe seeming tough and ballsy made her seem older to them.

      You’re right about the pics. It looks like Daddy’s little girl is resting her head on his chest. She’s very beautiful though.

    • bettyrose says:

      It absolutely was creepy. And it’s really creepy in her memoir, which I read in high school. I was a huge fan from an early age and styled myself Betty after her (even though my avatar Bette Davis, I got into Bette Davis because she was Betty Bacall’s idol). It’s so clear in her memoir and she’s honest about it that despite having a husky voice and a mature look, she was a very sheltered teenager, not at all wise to the world, and Bogie just getting out his, I think third, marriage completely groomed her. Their chemistry on screen is magic, but let’s be real about what was happening off camera. As awful as this is, I tend to think it was a blessing for her that they were only together 10 years. It gave her a chance to be her own person.

    • bisynaptic says:


  5. Ameerah M says:

    This photo of them pretty much sums up that entire relationship – Stevenson is looking at the camera while Bacall is looking at him

  6. Becks1 says:

    It sounds like an emotional affair, not physical. But I haven’t read her memoir, I am going to add it to my TBR list along with this book. I love Bogie and Bacall, but Bogie’s best movie obviously did not feature Bacall.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Curious as to which of Bogie’s movies you consider his best; also curious as to which of the four movies Bogie & Bacall made together that Carina doesn’t consider so great!

      • Becks1 says:

        oh, I’m basic and predictable, so I’m ride or die for Casablanca. Its one of my top 3 favorite movies.

      • Dara says:

        Becks, can I sit next to you? Casablanca is in my top 3 too. I practically have it memorized at this point.

      • Becks1 says:

        @Dara there is always room at the table!

        One of my clearest memories of my grandparents is them and their friends singing “As Time Goes By” at their 50th wedding anniversary and my grandmother crying (Casablanca was one of her favorites too, and she had had the same group of best friends since she was 15.)

        I also just plain love Ingrid Bergman, which ties into one of my other all time faves, Notorious, and then you can’t ignore Cary Grant which takes me to Bringing Up Baby, and then I have to give props to Hepburn in the African Queen* which then takes us back to Bogart. A full circle of (almost) all my top movies. I also love Spaceballs.

        *I feel like I should rewatch this though after reading King Leopold’s Ghost which was recommended on here.

      • Dara says:

        Cary Grant! I cannot resist any movie he was in. I prefer Indiscreet to Notorious, but only by a smidge. Charade is also on the list (my favorite actress named Hepburn is Audrey), as is To Catch a Thief. If we are talking movies made after I was born then Speed (Keanu!) is at the top of my list, and I must stop everything and watch Bull Durham or The Thomas Crown Affair (the remake) if I run across them while channel surfing.

      • Concern Fae says:

        As a classic film buff since childhood, his best film is IN A LONELY PLACE, he plays a screenwriter on the downslope of his career who meets and then loses Gloria Grahame because of his anger and general toxicity. It manages to be tragic and a great exploration of toxic masculinity. Bogie doesn’t hold back.

        As to Bacall, I think we need to remember that the average age of first marriage was 21 in 1940 and 20 in 1950 and 60. When people talked about marrying their high school sweetheart, it was usually right after graduation! People do mature at a younger age when the expectation is that they will be able to earn a wage and support themselves at 18. That may have been young, but it was in many ways healthier than keeping young people in a holding pattern for nearly a decade beyond that. We’re creating a moral view of when people mature to match what the new corporate, debt-laden, low paying jobs and high cost of living world offers young people. They could flourish much earlier, given the chance.

      • Dara says:

        We can’t ignore that marrying that young was in large part the only way women (girls really) could leave their parents. The jobs they were traditionally hired for weren’t high paying enough to live independently, and even if they were, some banks wouldn’t let a woman open a bank account without a man as co-signer, let alone sign a lease or apply for a mortgage. My mom worked full time at a decently paying secretarial job in her early twenties, but never had a credit card of her own until she was married, and then it was as Mrs. Husband’s Name.

        That said, I do think young people now are far less independent than they used to be, and economics is only a small part of that.

      • Tessa says:

        I enjoyed spellbound with Ingrid Bergman and gregory peck

    • bettyrose says:

      Becks –
      I’m a massive Bacall fan, but I agree that Casablanca is Bogie’s greatest film. So did Bacall, honestly, who saw it when she was 16. But To Have and Have Not is a respectable close 2nd. Anyone who hasn’t seen it, though, I challenge you to convince yourself that Bacall was a naive, inexperienced (in her own words) 19 year old in that film.
      ETA: I’m not doubting that she was, just that she was also a very talented actress to play such a role as young as she was.

  7. HeyJude says:

    I don’t exactly blame her, for the record she was almost stupidly devoted to Bogie and he had several long-term affairs from early on apparently. One of them was a hairdresser he insisted worked on all his movies, thus be around Bacall (she was not an idiot although blindly idealistic in love, she was a tough Bronx girl). The hairdresser later wrote an obscure book about the affair.

  8. kelleybelle says:

    I doubt it, she was too in love with Bogie. But Bogie had a mistress. Her name was Verita Peterson and he called her Pete.

  9. Brassy Rebel says:

    You had me at William J. Mann. He wrote the definitive (to me, at least) Katharine Hepburn bio, Kate; The Woman Who Was Hepburn. I haven’t read Bacall’s memoir and never knew how attracted she was to Adlai Stevenson. I’m old enough to remember Stevenson and find it difficult to believe that anyone, much less a glamorous movie star could be attracted to him on any level. But then, she married Bogie so I guess it all tracks. I was aware of the Sinatra rumors. That’s much easier to figure.

    • bettyrose says:

      Just checked, and the memoir I read was “By Myself” published in 78. She talks about being on set with Katharine during the filming of African Queen. That experience alone is worth the read.

      • Sass says:

        Yes! This is the one I have.

      • bettyrose says:

        @Sass – Have you read it yet? It’s crazy that I read it 30 years ago, and I’ve never stopped thinking about it. Like all good memoirs, it’s about so much more than her personal experience. Guess I should give it another read.

      • Sass says:

        @BettyRose I read it last year so it’s sort of fresh for me still. Sitting on my shelf right now! It was my nana’s copy.

  10. Ocho says:

    Bacall makes me think of Sarah Snook in the top photo. I never would have made that comparison before.

  11. HeyKay says:

    Oh do not get me started on how Frank Sinatra moved in on Bacall while Bogie was ill.
    That rat b*astard, he was friends with Bogart, kind of played second banana to him.
    Bogart was the original leader of the rat pack, etc.

    Yes, Sinatra was IMO, he moved in on Bacall while B was dying, she had 2 young kids and was 25 years younger.
    At one point it was thought Sinatra and Bacall would marry.

    Frank Sinatra was a serial skirt chaser, cheating, using and discarding women like tissues.

    • Lala11_7 says:

      The way he GHOSTED BETTY after getting her to agree to marry him? DEVESTATING! One of the MAIN reasons why I love Ava Gardner ❤️ is because she did to Frank…what HE DID to ALL of his wonen!

      • BothSidesNow says:

        Yes!! And Sinatra was devastated his entire life as he considered Ava Gardner to be the love of his life! Sinatra was a predator playing with women’s feelings and love as if they were all disposable.

        Betty whose love and devotion to Bogie was her purpose in her life at the time. Bogie loved her but he could never be faithful to anyone solely due to his ego and selfishness.

      • Nicegirl says:

        Omg that would be devastating

    • HeyJude says:

      Yep, Frank also stole the whole leader of the Rat Pack thing from Bogart too. That was all Bogart. (Bacall named the group.) That persona was very real life Bogie too. He like skinwalked him.

      Once in charge of the Rat Pack group post-Bogie Sinatra had the original LGBT members like Clifton Webb, Kate and Spencer Tracy, Judy Garland, George Cukor and Cary Grant, distanced.

  12. North of Boston says:

    I remember hearing that her audition for THaHN was a mistake.

    Someone was looking at a stack of actress photos and she was in the mix, but they decided to bring in others and not her. But the booker brought her in (maybe even flew her out from NY)
    Once she showed up they went ahead with the audition and it went from there.

    IIRC back in NY she was roommates with another model/drama student/aspiring actress who wound up marrying one of their older classmates, Kirk Douglas.

  13. Lala11_7 says:

    Let me tell you, yall about my former governor…. that man had the type of BDE that was like Pete Davidson on steroid😝 During the same time period that Betty was following him, Marlena Dietrich was stalking Adlai like a Panther in heat….IT WAS RIDICULOUS 😂

    I cannot tell you how many actresses back in the day who would have risked it ALL to spend just one night with Adlai….I’ve read so many autobiographies by people in Hollywood during that time period and when they spoke of Adlai, which they often did, they always say how intelligent….charming….witty….and MAGNIFICENT Adlai was!

    His Sister Elizabeth was his official hostess and and her MAIN job was keeping the women in line to protect her brother’s reputation and mental health because women would follow from all over the world to spend some time with Adlai…and Elizabeth had to work HARD at her job😂

    I did read Betty’s autobiography and it was very much an emotional affair….she ADORED him….But one thing about Adlai…he knew how to handle himself impeccably! You never heard any scandal about him….and Humphrey being much older AND wiser…understood and handled it like a pro!

    I’m so proud that he was my former governor and a Democrat…and he has always been one of my top 5 people in history that I would love to go back and have a dinner with. And to this day, I think about how different the world would have been if he had won POTUS!

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      This is delightful information. I had no idea he had that effect on people!

    • BeanieBean says:

      Count me as another clueless about Adlai. I’m going to have to find some bios about him.

    • Brassy Rebel says:

      Marlene Dietrich too!? Please don’t tell me Marilyn was following him around like a puppy! Maybe that whole JFK thing was just to get to Adlai who was Kennedy’s UN ambassador.

    • ArtFossil says:

      What memories this post stirred up as I remember vividly how devastated my mother was when Stevenson lost in 1952.

      When I’m feeling nostalgic I go back and read Adlai Stevenson’s superb speech to the UN during the Cuban missile crisis and watch Stevenson’s takedown of Soviet Ambassador Zorin (“I am prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over, if that’s your decision. And I am also prepared to present the evidence in this room.”) I stayed home from school and watched this live on TV.

      • Brassy Rebel says:

        @Artfossil: Stevenson’s UN Security Council retort to Zorin at the height of the Cuban Missile crisis was 🔥! I think it scared the Russians. And my staunchly Republican mother wanted to hug Stevenson through the TV. “Until hell freezes over!” I knew then we would be alright.

    • Giddy says:

      A lot of women are also drawn to the power that politicians wield; how else to explain the fact that LBJ had multiple mistresses? One of his longtime mistresses was the very beautiful mother of a friend of mine. That still amazes me.

  14. Peanut Butter says:

    She was such an elegant, stunning woman. Whenever I’ve seen her on the screen, I can’t take my eyes off of her.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      She was!! Bacall had an elegant poise which only added to her beauty!! She was stunning her entire life!! Bacalls love life after Bogie was a nightmare for her. Robards was a bastard and was a monster and he was emotionally and physically abusive.

      I need to read her biography!! I have read Hepburns and she and Bacall were life long friends, as Bacall was on set with Bogie for the African Queen.

    • BeanieBean says:

      I tell you, that ‘you do know how to whistle, don’t you Steve? just put your lips together & blow’ is such a great line & so perfectly delivered.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        YES!!! This is my favorite Bacall and Bogie movie!!!

      • MerlinsMom1018 says:


        She was also known as “The Look”. She was a stunning woman and still is absolutely one of my favorites to this day.
        ” To Have and Have Not” is my favorite movie

      • BQM says:

        @merlins mom And she did The Look because she was so nervous she had to lower her chin! It wound up being perfect.

  15. Sandra says:

    Bogie wore a toupee?? Never suspected but now can’t not see it! …
    Bacall was so beautiful!

    • Lala11_7 says:

      It was one of Bogie’s horrors…his hair had been thinning FOR YEARS…starting before he hit 30…but hie LACEFRONT WIG GAME WAS ON POINT❣️😝😂

    • L84Tea says:

      I never knew this either. I am shocked I tell you! I’ll never be able to unsee it now.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        I know!!! Those were some incredible toupee’s, for that time period, but Bogie bald???? WTH????

    • HeyJude says:

      It seems like every leading man of the time except Cary Grant had a toupee. (The rest hated Cary Grant.) Bogart, Kelly, Astaire, Sinatra, John Wayne. The funniest part is that occasionally the actual toupees of these people will pop up for auction at places like Julien’s even today because they were so expensive studio hairdressers kept them for multiple films!

  16. HeyKay says:

    Bogart spoke of the happiest time in his life was when he and Bacall were first falling in love.

    • Lala11_7 says:

      Oh….I BELIEVE THAT…Betty gave him EVERYTHING he always wanted…a lovely home…children…not a bunch of arguing drinking & fighting…a GOOD life…

      Regarding sexual fidelity…during THAT time period…it was more accepted…ESPECIALLY if the man kept it on the DL…which Bogie obviously did…I ONLY regret that Women NEVA have that option too☹️

      • BothSidesNow says:

        No, we didn’t back then and it’s still looked down upon today. Men are praised while women face a litany of vile labels.

        Though I too was unfaithful to my now husband when we were dating, it was 3 months, 2 of which were solely emotional but that doesn’t absolve me for my actions at all!!! I felt shame and I am thankful that he forgave me because he didn’t have to. Celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary last November, 28 years total.

      • Sass says:

        In her memoir she actually writes of how Bogie was an alcoholic and could be extremely emotionally abusive. She didn’t name it that way but that’s what it was.

        He left his extremely unhappy first marriage for her…a teenager. While I don’t doubt they were in a happy for the time marriage – Bacall is predictably nonchalant about his bad behavior – the things she describes would be considered abusive and unacceptable today.

  17. Gabby says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE The Big Sleep. The electricity and banter between these two is something else. Yes they had issues. But they are my fave Hollywood couple.

    • Michael says:

      We really need a Hollywood Glamour Bioiopc of these two. I am not sure who could play Becall but if Taylor Swift could act at all she would physically be a great fit. I think these were my favorite Iconic couple of all time because they were so cool and Bogart and Becall got some of the best lines ever written. I am aware of the creepiness of their age difference of course

      • BQM says:

        I can’t see Tay at all myself. But I CAN see Vanessa Kirby. She has that seductive, sloe eyed beauty. She’d be killer in 40s fashions.

      • Aurora says:

        I think the actress who played the girl who died from hypotermia in Yellowjackets could be a decent Bacall (with contact lenses). She has that classic Hollywood beauty and the ‘tude. I can’t put my finger on who could play Bogie?

  18. Kimmy says:

    @celebitchy @kaiser

    Consider this a petition to start a new feature on Celebitchy….tea from the golden age of Hollywood!

    These people make our current crop of celebs boring!!! I’m loving reading through all these comments!!!

    • Brassy Rebel says:

      Where can I sign this petition?

    • BQM says:

      There is SO MUCH great tea from those days. Some of the scandals and gossip put anything today in the shade.

      The royal gossip from previous decades (pre even chuck and Di) is better too!

      • Deering24 says:

        Celebs back then had a lot to hide–several had fascinating lives before hitting Hollywood. I’m always struck at how many married young before they became big–and how many first marriages didn’t last. And the studio machinery was fiendishly good at helping them hide it. 😈

  19. Bobbi says:

    I read that excerpt from the new book and I was so disappointed. They seemed to be one of the few non-sketch Hollywood couples.
    She was actually engaged to Sinatra after Bogie died.

  20. Sass says:

    I have a battered first ed paperback of Bacall’s memoir on my bookshelf. It was my nana’s. I read it last January and to read it in our time is eye opening.

    Bacall’s v writing is very dry and factual interspersed with brief moments of emotional gut punches.

    She 100% had a relationship with Sinatra but made it clear he was pretty abusive.

    Adlai was someone she was very enamored with but she wrote that he didn’t feel the same.

  21. Mcmmom says:

    My 75 year old mother just loves Bogart and Bacall, but all I can see is the age gap and I don’t think he is even remotely attractive. Gregory Peck? Yes. Gary Grant? Yes. Sure – even Jimmy Stewart in a certain way. But Bogart just looks like he would smell of stale cigarettes and overly sweet cologne.

  22. Dee Kay says:

    I fell in love with Bogie & Bacall as a screen couple when I was a little girl — watched all their movies when they came on TV and read Bacall’s memoir. But now I think he was pretty gross to woo a 19-year-old, brand-new to Hollywood, while he was married. He love-bombed her (the letters he wrote her *are* swoonworthy) but also played hot-and-cold (as he kept going back to his wife — Bacall says she would cry so much that the makeup artists on set would have to work extra hard to make her look decent the next morning, but they never said a word to her about the bags under her eyes). I’m glad she “got” him in the end — that’s what she wanted more than anything — and their movies are still solid gold, but I feel like today, many many many people would warn a teenager against this type of relationship, even with the biggest male star of the day. I wonder if one of the reasons it happened was that Bacall didn’t have any friends with her when she shot that first movie with Bogart. Perhaps no one was entirely on “her” side, helping her see the power dynamics for what they were.

  23. SAS says:

    I’m not very familiar with any of the players but HONKING for more golden age Hollywood tea, this is fun Carina!

  24. jferber says:

    HeyJude, I’ve heard this, too. The only reason they didn’t marry is because Bacall annoyed Sinatra by speaking about their affair with others, which he didn’t like. For what it’s worth, I heard that both Bogey and Bacall had affairs during their marriage.