Mayo Methot started out in Hollywood as a bright young thing, only to have that shine quickly go to ruin. As Humphrey Bogart’s wife at the height of their mutual fame, Methot was one half of a legendary power couple—but they hid incredibly dark secrets just beyond their dressing room doors. Eventually, it led to Methot’s heartbreaking and unforgettable downfall.
1. She Was A Child Star
Mayo Jane Methot was born in Chicago in 1904, and the acting bug bit her early and hard. While growing up in Portland, Oregon, she performed in her first stage production when she was just five years old. Her mother, a journalist, and father, a rough-and-tumble sea captain, were slightly astonished at the girl’s drive, but tried to be supportive. However, there were dark things going on in the family.
2. She Had A Deranged Role Model
As Methot developed into a precociously beautiful young girl, men started to stand up and take notice…and her father, who struggled with his temper all his life, was none too pleased. One day, Mayo and her father were walking home together when the patriarch caught a boy blowing kisses at her. He saw red and decided to teach the boy a harsh lesson. A very harsh one.
Methot’s father hit the boy so hard across the face, he broke his jaw. It was a traumatic thing for a girl to witness, but that wasn’t all. As we’ll see, Mayo inherited her father’s violent side, and it would come out in increasingly tragic ways.
3. She Was Hungry For Stardom
Temper or not, Methot had her sights set on the stars before she was even out of school. She idolized figures like legendary French actress Sarah Bernhardt, and as she got roles in ever more prestigious productions, audiences dubbed her “The Portland Rosebud” and the “Youngest Leading Lady in the World.” She even once gave a bouquet of flowers to President Woodrow Wilson.
Doing so well at a young age has its perks, but many child stars have also gone on to crash and burn. Little did Methot’s fans know that the same fate awaited their young star.
4. She Fell Hard And Fast
So many things came much too fast for Methot, and that included romance. When she was still a teenager, she began acting full-time for a stage company and then earned a role in a series of film shorts. That’s when everything changed. While on set, she met the handsome veteran and cameraman Jack Lamond and promptly fell head over heels for him. This was not a good thing.
5. She Hooked Up With An Older Man
Over the course of just days and weeks, Lamond and Methot dove into a whirlwind affair, despite the fact that Methot was just 17 years old and Lamond was well into his 20s. Nor did this age difference stop them from doing something even more rash: In September 1921, bare months after meeting, the pair married and then quickly moved to New York.
It was a huge upheaval of Methot’s life, and the hits just kept on coming.
6. She Was A Broadway Baby
While in New York, Methot lit up the lights of Broadway. In fact, her 1923 performance in The Mad Honeymoon was about the only thing critics did like about the show—and her ability to rise above the material with the sheer force of her star power impressed all the right people. One day backstage after a performance, a very important man approached Methot. Within minutes, he made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.
7. She Got A Big Break
The man who found her that night was none other than famous producer-playwright George M. Cohan, who was currently putting together The Song and Dance Man. Cohan quickly decided that Methot, who he thought of as “the next Lillian Gish,” was perfect for the lead role in his production. This time, the play was a smash hit, but Methot may have been hiding a huge secret.
8. Her Boss Tried To Seduce Her
Barely five feet tall with blonde hair, “luminous, large eyes,” and a rosebud mouth, Methot was quite a beauty. Naturally, then, men everywhere were still going as mad for her as they always had. According to some sources, her boss George Cohan was no exception, and fell hard for the tiny beauty. He launched a campaign to seduce her…and it was a little too successful.
9. She Betrayed Her Husband
Methot reportedly fell into Cohan’s arms while making The Song and Dance Man; after all, they were both former child stars hungry to make it in the adult world, and they had a lot to talk about. With all this chemistry, it didn’t seem to matter to Methot that she had a husband waiting at home for her. Soon enough, however, she paid a very dear price for her sins.
10. Her Husband Abandoned Her
By 1927, to almost no one’s surprise, Mayo Methot and Jack Lamond filed for divorce just six years into their marriage. And that’s when Methot made a shocking confession. In the paperwork, she claimed that Lamond had deserted her a full two years earlier, right about when she was playing footsie with George Cohan.
Newly single and still on the prowl for stardom, Methot threw herself into her work. She was in for another rude awakening.
11. She Was Missing One Thing
Although Methot had a handful of critical hits in the coming years, including her song “More Than You Know” from her work in Great Day, true celebrity still eluded her. This was particularly unlucky, since Methot was more convinced than ever that this was the only thing she wanted. So when the Great Depression hit and stage roles got scarce, she made a fateful—and ultimately ruinous—decision.
12. She Went Hollywood
In 1930, Methot caught which way the wind was blowing in cinema and moved from New York to Los Angeles, where scores of screen parts were (hopefully) hers for the taking. At first, it paid off: She immediately got her first big speaking film role in Corsair. Stardom seemed within her reach at long last…and Methot quickly transformed her bedroom life to match.
13. She Was A Sugar Baby
Soon after her move to Hollywood, Methot had a hair-raising encounter. She met oil tycoon and man-about-town Percy T. Morgan, an American industrialist Prince Charming if there ever was one. Brash and fun-loving, Morgan also owned the legendary Cock n’ Bull restaurant on Sunset Boulevard, a locale that provided the couple with plenty of late nights out. It did not, however, help Methot make good decisions.
14. She Had A Quickie Wedding (Again)
Methot was nothing if not a risk-taker, especially when she was in love with someone. So, in November 1931, after having known Percy Morgan for a little over a year, she decided to marry him in the middle of their whirlwind romance (sound familiar?). Still, it initially seemed like everything was perfect…until her glittering life started to go horribly wrong.
15. The Studios Did Her Dirty
After signing a contract with Warner Bros, Methot got the lead role in the thriller The Night Club Lady. However, she soon came to a startlingly terrible realization. She had now firmly typecast herself as a fast-talking, second-lead “dame,” and Hollywood had no interest in making her an ingenue or a leading lady. The reasons for this were even worse than she could have imagined.
16. She Had A Fatal Flaw
Unfortunately, Methot’s relegation to side characters and unsympathetic molls had nothing to do with her acting; she was as electrifying as ever. Instead, studios didn’t want to put her front and center because, as it turned out, her legendary beauty didn’t translate well on screen. In fact, celluloid tended to make her look a decade older than she actually was.
There were no footlights in the movies like there were on stage, which could soften her appearance. This led Methot to make some seriously bad choices. Her worst yet, in fact.
17. Her Coping Method Was Horrible
Methot decided to deal with her demons in the worst way possible: By drowning her sorrows in drink. She’d always been fond of the bottle, and it didn’t help that her new husband’s work life revolved around a popular Hollywood watering hole. This had a devastating effect. The alcohol added even more years to her appearance, making it all the more difficult for her to get the roles she aspired to.
It was one vicious circle, and Methot felt she had to regain control. As always, this caused more harm than good.
18. She Had A Bitter Breakup
There wasn’t a lot Methot had a handle on, but there was one thing she could still wield power over: Her marriage. She decided to put an end to it and divorced Percy Morgan in 1937, again after just six years of marriage. And sure, this could have been a positive move, especially as a way to taper off her constant drinking. But that’s not what Methot did, oh no.
19. She Met Her Match
Around the time of her divorce, Methot landed another supporting “dame” role in Marked Woman, which starred future heavy hitters (but current aspiring stars) Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart. It kicked off the most infamous period of Methot’s life. Methot was immediately drawn to Bogart, and the pair had a live-wire, frenetic chemistry that involved plenty of laughter. But they also had a darker, baser instinct in common.
20. She Found A Drinking Partner
Methot’s fondness for the bottle had only grown since her last divorce, and it turned out that Bogart was just as keen on drinking as she was. Moreover, like Methot, Bogie was still struggling to truly make it in Hollywood. The romance grew as they both discovered how much they had in “common,” and they’d spend any downtime they had on set in each other’s company. I bet you can guess what awful decision comes next…
21. She Was A Hopeless Optimist
Surprise! Methot and Bogart married each other in August 1938, in Beverly Hills. There were dark signs from the very beginning. For one, this wasn’t just Methot’s third marriage—it was also Bogart’s third try at true love after divorcing his first two wives. Somehow, though, they both thought the third time was going to be the charm. They were both very, very wrong.
22. Her Wedding Night Was A Disaster
Methot’s fairy tale started to fall apart on the very day of her wedding. The newlyweds had planned a huge party at their house right after the nuptials—but while the party was a success, no one guessed the devastating truth. Methot and Bogart had already had their first massive fight, which ended in them spending their first night as husband and wife apart. It didn’t take long for their dysfunction to reach cruel proportions.
23. She Was A Violent Spouse
As much as the bottle propped up Bogie and Methot’s relationship, taking them to new heights of passion, it also took them to new heights of violence. Their frequent loud rows became notorious around Hollywood and earned them the nickname “The Battling Bogarts” for all their public scuff-ups with each other. Even so, few people know the truly dark details.
24. Her Methods Were Cruel And Unusual
The Bogarts weren’t just fighting about who took up too much space on the bed, and their fights were hardly tiffs. As time went on, Methot got increasingly paranoid and jealous over Bogie, insisting that he was cheating on her (he wasn’t…yet) and throwing everything from crockery to plants at him when her temper boiled over. And that was just the beginning.
25. She Nearly Offed Her Husband…Three Times
When Methot got particularly angry, she got disturbingly creative with her punishments. After one incident, she actually set fire to their house, and right in the middle of another spat she rushed at Bogart with a steak knife and planted it deep in his shoulder. At one party, witnesses at a dinner party even saw Methot threaten to shoot Bogart with a pistol.
As one of their mutual friends—not that they had many—put it, “The Bogart-Methot marriage was the sequel to the Civil War.” But those friends may not have understood the sick truth.
26. She Had A Strange Appeal
For all that Methot’s new marriage was like something out of a nightmare, Humphrey Bogart actually seemed to like it. Some noted that he would often egg Methot on and encourage their conflicts. As Bogart himself once said, “I like a jealous wife…I wouldn’t give you two cents for a dame without a temper.” One day, however, Bogart took his antagonism too far.
27. She Earned An Awful Nickname
During this time, Bogart decided to bestow a new, gross nickname on his dearly beloved wife: “Sluggy.” She did, after all, have a particularly potent right hook that she liked to use on him. Like most everything else in their marriage, the press got a hold of this pet name and quickly dubbed their house “Sluggy Hollow.” And then Bogie twisted the knife in.
28. Her Husband Took A Harsh Dig At Her
In a stroke of spiteful genius during one of their rough patches, Bogart decided to go full bachelor mode and purchased a motorboat to speed around town, usually without Methot. Still, he did keep her in his thoughts: The noir legend named the craft Sluggy in homage to their horrific relationship. Yet after all this,cMethot still had so much further to fall.
29. She Was On A “Glamour Train”
Always the jealous type, one movie pushed Methot over the edge. In 1939, Warner Bros enlisted most of their stable of actors, including Methot and Bogie, to get on a “glamour train” to Dodge City as a publicity stunt for their new Errol Flynn flick Dodge City. It should have been a grand old time where Methot and Bogart could take a backseat and just have fun.
Only, this was the “Battling Bogarts,” and they had to go and ruin it for everyone.
30. She Had An Infamous Public Incident
While on the glamour train, Methot got incensed at watching her husband flirting with all the other beautiful Warner contract starlets. Brought to her limit (with a huge helping from the on-train bar cart), an enraged Methot reportedly ended up chasing Bogie down the whole length of the train car, either brandishing a broken bottle or eventually hitting him in the head with the stiletto of her shoe.
This was bizarre enough. Yet somehow, when the Bogarts actually managed to be normal, they got even more insufferable.
31. She Had One Glimpse Of Happiness
When things were going well with the Bogarts, they couldn’t get loved up enough. The couple apparently loved spending time at home with their many dogs while Methot played homemaker, diving into her housekeeping duties with enthusiasm. Not-so-incidentally, this was how Bogart liked her best too—and soon, she made an abrupt decision that shocked everyone.
32. She Made A Huge Sacrifice For Bogart
Although Methot was technically the bigger Hollywood star at the time she met Humphrey Bogart, she decided to quit acting just two years into her marriage. To the press, Methot declared that in her extremely hectic filming schedule, she’d forgotten how much she enjoyed being home and “keeping house.” The truth, however, might be much darker.
33. She Was Scared Of Her Husband
In reality, Methot had many horrible reasons to want to keep a closer watch on Bogart from the comfort of her own home. Besides her constant paranoia about his actions on sets, Bogart also occasionally answered her blows with his own during fights. A friend admitted to sometimes seeing bruises on Methot’s face and once witnessed Bogart rip her dress during a fight.
With all this, Methot couldn’t have felt safe in the union. And then fate really pulled the rug out from under her.
34. One Movie Changed Her Life
For years, Methot and Bogart were on roughly the same page fame-wise. And then in 1942, Bogart landed the part of Rick Blaine opposite Ingrid Bergman in a little movie you may have heard of—Casablanca. Bogart had been steadily rising in the Hollywood ecosystem for years, and with Casablanca‘s lasting success, he was now on the very top of the food chain.
Suddenly, the foundations of Methot’s marriage had shifted, and she was more unstable than she had ever been. It all came to a harrowing cry for help.
35. She Tried To Take Her Own Life
In 1943, things got to a bone-chilling climax. During yet another fight with Bogart, Methot attempted to take her own life. Disturbingly, this wasn’t the first time she’d tried—she had slashed her wrists in the middle of an argument on several previous occasions—but it was so serious this go around that Bogart insisted she see a psychiatrist. His ultimatum opened up a necessary but tragic Pandora’s box.
36. She Made A Crushing Discovery
When Methot finally sat down with a professional, the psychiatrist gave the Bogarts distressing news. He diagnosed Methot with paranoid schizophrenia. In other words, she could be suffering from psychosis—delusions, hallucinations, and outbursts that at least partly explained her erratic behavior with Bogart, especially when coupled with her drinking habit.
At long last, there was a scientific name and reason for Methot’s mental difficulties. But it didn’t lead to her salvation. Just the opposite.
37. She Took Her Show On The Road
One of the first things doctors urged Methot to do to improve her health was to quit drinking. Did she listen? Nope. Instead, Methot embarked on a tour through Europe with Bogart to entertain the forces during WWII, an honorable vocation that nonetheless included copious amounts of liquor and accompanying screaming matches with her husband. This produced a colossally embarrassing moment.
38. She Gave A Mortifying Performance
While in Italy, Methot and Bogart met up with director John Huston and engaged in a night of slinging back pints for hours on end. After downing her latest drink, Methot got a little too much liquid courage and decided it was a great idea to sing, hiccups and all, for the rest of the room. Bogart and Huston tried in vain to dissuade her, and she got up defiantly to put on her show. She quickly regretted it.
39. She Inspired A Brutal Scene
Methot’s impromptu performance was a resounding flop, and after enduring her off-key singing, Bogart and Huston mercifully sat her back down again. Except, they later used this moment to betray her. The image of Methot thoroughly embarrassing herself stayed with Huston so long, he used it as inspiration for the scene in 1948’s Key Largo—also starring Humphrey Bogart—where the alcoholic female villain sings a mortifyingly off-key and intoxicated song to a group of people.
That one had to sting—only, Methot had a colder betrayal coming right for her.
40. Her Husband’s Eye Began To Wander
In 1943, the same year Methot received her schizophrenia diagnosis, Humphrey Bogart started work on his next big film, To Have and Have Not, an adaptation of an Ernest Hemingway novel directed by Howard Hawks and starring complete newcomer Lauren Bacall. At 19 years old, the wide-eyed, lithe, and stunning Bacall was decades younger than the 44-year-old Bogart…and Methot finally had something to legitimately worry about.
41. She Had A Powerful Rival
Contrary to all of Methot’s fears, until now Bogart had actually never had an affair with one of his leading ladies. Then in the blink of an eye, her worst nightmare came true. Bogie and Bacall had intense chemistry from the very start, with Bogart watching Bacall’s screen test and then telling her, “We’ll have a lot of fun together.”
Before long, the two were hanging out together every opportunity they got, and Bogart had famously nicknamed Bacall “Baby,” a far cry from “Sluggy.” Meanwhile, Methot was crumbling.
42. She Lost Her Beauty
Sadly, at this time the painfully young and beautiful Bacall—seriously, this girl hurt to look at—presented a great contrast Methot, whose illnesses had turned her from a captivating woman to a shade of herself. Once petite and beautiful, she now was a “squat, unkempt figure with lackluster hair pinned carelessly back with a cheap barrette.”
But while Methot may have been going to seed, she wasn’t going blind or stupid, and she started to smell a rat in her husband’s long nights on set. It was all leading down a very dark path.
43. Her Husband Made A Fool Of Her
Everyone on set tried to stop Methot’s husband from getting with the ingenue, but this only drove Bogie and Bacall further underground, making it more difficult for Methot to confirm her rising suspicions. The illicit pair would meet only briefly and then send each other long, aching love letters in the interim. However, Methot still wasn’t fooled, and she started digging for proof.
44. She Made Sure Bogart Felt Her Wrath
At first, Methot tried to rein Bogart in by dropping in at the studio at all hours to try to catch him out. When (thanks to studio finagling) that never seemed to work, she switched tactics to something much crueler. Methot began using the telephone to insult Bogart, calling him to sneer, “Hello, lover boy. How’re you doing with your daughter?”
Somehow, though, even these incredible burns couldn’t shame Bogart. Just after wrapping filming with Bacall, he dealt a crushin blow to his marriage.
45. She Had A Very Public Split
On October 19, 1944, just a week after To Have and Have Not came out, Bogart officially gave up on his marriage to Methot. He even got the papers to announce separation, confirming with journalists that he had just moved out of their home. Except he’d made one huge miscalculation. Methot hadn’t given up on him, and she had one more trick up her sleeve to bring Bogart back.
46. She Made A Desperate Play
Methot was down but not out. See, she had one trump card: She was sick, and Bogart swore to love her through sickness and health at the altar. In the wake of the separation announcement, Methot called Bogart’s hotel constantly, presumably hoping to impress upon him her fragile mental state. When Bogart continued to ignore the rings, Methot upped the ante in a horrific way.
47. She Sent A Shocking Telegram
Mayo Methot managed to turn the tables with just one telegram. In it, she detailed her physical ailments and how close she was to ending it all. She was so convincing, Bogart finally called her back. On the phone, she proceeded to promise him the moon and committed herself to entering a hospital. After a week or so, the supposedly “clean” Methot knocked again on Bogart’s door, and within minutes the “happy couple” were together once more.
Just weeks after he left his wife, Bogart moved back home. But in reality, Methot’s redemption arc only set up the final nail in her coffin.
48. She Flexed Her Power
For this next (brief) period, Methot was the cat who ate the canary. Smug and victorious, she watched on as the chastened Bogart begged forgiveness from Bacall, who in turn spent her days on the set of their new film The Big Sleep crying her eyes out while the makeup department tried desperately to get her swollen lids to go down. Methot couldn’t get enough of her triumph, and this complacency was her undoing.
49. She Went Back To Her Bad Habits
Even as Bogart was still filming The Big Sleep, Methot had gone back to drinking, throwing all her promises to him out of the window. One evening, Bogart snapped. Through with Methot and missing Bacall, he called up the ingenue at three o’clock in the morning to tell her as much. Only, when he picked up that receiver, he couldn’t have known the trouble he was courting.
50. She Confronted Lauren Bacall
Methot, even through her permanently drink-induced haze, was still as sharp as a tack when it came to her jealous obsessions, and she clocked Bogart’s phone call instantly. Indeed, in the middle of Bogart’s late-night confession to Bacall, Methot ripped the phone from his hands and yelled into the receiver, “who’s going to wash his socks?!” among other choice words.
This was the way Mayo Methot’s world ended: Not with a whimper, but a bang.
51. Her Marriage Imploded
By December 1944, Bogart was out of Methot’s life again, and this time they both knew it was for good. But Bogart had another insult to hurl. When Methot filed for divorce six months after this separation, she only had to wait an hour for Bogart to agree and push it through. Her now-ex-husband evidently wanted to move on…and he had more cruelties in store.
52. Was A Crazy Ex
Just 11 days after the divorce, Bogart dealt Methot the ultimate betrayal. He made it official with his illicit lover Lauren Bacall, marrying her in a small and happy ceremony surrounded by friends at Malabar Farm in Ohio. Methot’s reaction was nothing short of unhinged. Heartbroken, she vanished from the public eye for months…and spent that time holed up in Malabar State Park, the exact same location as Bogie and Bacall’s nuptials.
Methot was a glutton for punishment, but in her few remaining years, she would more than get her fill.
53. She Tried To Make A Comeback
After several months of hibernating, Methot decided she wanted to take a chance to try reviving her career. She made her way back to New York and tried to find work in the theater again. The response was heartbreaking. She was a flop: The audience didn’t know who she was anymore. Besides that, she didn’t have the same magnetism she’d had a few decades ago.
Tail between her legs, Methot knew there was only one place she could go from here.
54. She Retreated To Her Home
After her failure in New York, Methot went back to her home in Portland, Oregon, and sought solace in the arms of her mother. Sadly, it wasn’t enough; Methot started drinking even more and sunk further into depression. By 1950, she was vanishing even in the eyes of her family. Then, in 1951, the worst finally happened to Mayo Methot.
55. Her Story Ended Abruptly
In June 1951, Mayo Methot passed. At the time, the press reported that she’d passed during surgery, but the whole story was so much more tragic. In reality, the 47-year-old had drunk herself into an early grave, and the cause of her passing was “acute alcoholism.” In the end, Methot simply could never exorcise her demons. Still, her passing did shoot one more barb at her ex…
56. Her Ex Mourned Her
Humphrey Bogart and his (still) wife Lauren Bacall were both shooting for a film when Methot passed. It was Bacall who broke the news to her husband. His reaction was surprising: Rather than being flippant, Bogart was quiet for a long time after hearing it. When he finally spoke, it was to grieve that it was “Such a waste. She had real talent, she had just thrown her life away.”
Yet for all their problems (and there were many), Bogart kept one tender secret about Methot for the rest of his life.
57. Bogart Never Forgot Her
Methot’s remains went to the Portland Memorial Mausoleum, along with her parents. For the next couple of years, her crypt received a weekly shipment of a dozen roses This stopped in 1957, and the timing reveals a touching truth. The flowers stopped coming the very week of Humphrey Bogart’s passing, revealing him as the secret admirer.