"They had a Humphrey Bogart festival, with Lauren Bacall or Katherine Hepburn, women on their own, making up their minds."

Humphrey Bogart was born into an upper-class family in New York in 1899. Wounded in service during World War One, he played romantic Broadway leads in the 1920s before going to Hollywood in the 1930s and slowly rising to prominence in a series of films that included High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep. Latterly, he became an iconic figure – the lone wolf, a cynical, super-cool, unruffled man of integrity in a murky, amoral world. He died of throat cancer in 1957.

Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske, also in New York, in 1924. After being spotted by Howard Hawks on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar in 1943, he chose her the following year to star opposite Bogart (who she later married) in To Have and Have Not. Still only 19, in that film she exhibited a dry, silky worldliness that belied her youth, famously asking Bogart in her husky voice, ‘You know how to whistle donth’cha Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.’ She is still acting.

Hepburn 1940
Public DomainHepburn 1940
Katherine Hepburn was born to intellectual, free-thinking parents in Connecticut in 1907. She swept into Hollywood in the early 1930s, famously handsome, trouser-wearing and bursting with self-confidence, earning herself the nickname ‘Katherine of Arrogance’. She pioneered the cinematic image of the female loner, the high-toned outsider making her own way in a man’s world, in films including Alice Adams and Sylvia Scarlett. She also proved to be an adept comedienne in Bringing up Baby. She conducted a near 30-year affair with Spencer Tracy, a married man and her frequent co-star. Nominated for 12 Oscars and winning four times, she died of Parkinson’s disease in 2003.