Was Bogart Born on Christmas Day?

Slapsgiving cheer via user and bartender Paddy at The Fedora Lounge.

Close on the heels of my incisive investigation (aka Google Search) as to whether Mr. “When You’re Slapped You’ll Take It and Like It” was at one time the Gerber Baby, I decided to tackle another pervasive rumor using my top-notch investigative reporting skills (aka a slightly higher than average typing speed).

Sadly, as to whether Bogart was born on Christmas, as another longstanding Bogart myth claims, IMDB is of relatively little help, its information having been garbled by an insidious computer virus known as “crowdsourcing.” IMDB dismisses as incorrect the New York Times’ claim Bogart was really born on 12/23/1899 but publicists decided “A guy born on Christmas can’t be all bad.” IMDB says, “Copies of two census forms from 1900 show this to be incorrect,” but doesn’t say which part of the NYT’s claim is incorrect…that publicist changed Bogart’s birth date, that Bogart was born on Christmas, or both?

Bogart’s IMDB trivia page goes on, then, to claim that Bogart would morosely screen “A Star Is Born” every Christmas Day — his birthday — because “I expected more out of myself.” IMDB doesn’t source that claim, other than (vaguely) to director Richard Brooks, in a story that sounds potentially apocryphal.

Nonetheless, the IMDB page for Humphrey Bogart still lists his birth date as Christmas, 1899, as does Wikipedia, which also claims the fake-Christmas-birthday story is baseless, owing to birth notices in early 1900 that list Bogart’s birth date as 12/25/1899.

I can’t imagine what kind of boneheaded publicity hound would make up a fake birthday, but hey, it’s been done before, right? Am I right? Only my parents and my identity thieves know for sure.

In any event, Bogart wasn’t that unusual. Based on the current population, something in excess of 800,000 people in the United States alive today were born on Christmas. In 1900, the figure would have been about a quarter of that.

So…Bogart was not the Gerber baby, but he was a baby-food model, and he was born on Christmas. And don’t forget to attend the Humphrey Bogart Film Festival next year in Key Largo. My guess is, the Key Largo Hilton won’t have baby food, but they’ll have martinis, reportedly Bogart’s favorite drink. As Bogart saw it, “The problem with the world
is that everyone is a few drinks behind.”


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