LUCAS, Ohio – Quietly tucked away in a pastoral corner of Richland County was a hangout frequented by the Hollywood elite of bygone days.
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were married at Malabar Farm State Park in 1945, and Tyrone Power’s career got a boost from the farm’s founder, 10TV’s Jerry Revish reported.
The sons of Bogart and Power traveled to their parents’ bucolic retreat in June for a fundraiser to support the facility.
“It was just the beginning of everything and the beginning of me, I guess,” said Stephen Bogart during his visit to Malabar Farm. “I said I have to be here because it’s such an important part, of course, of my family’s history, but it’s an important part of Ohio history as well and to hear that it might be going into disrepair was a big problem for me. I said sure, what can I do and [Russ Hill] said come on out, we’re going to do a big fundraising thing, so we did.”
Malabar Farm was built in 1938 by Pulitzer Prize winning author Louis Bromfield and has a deep history and connection to Hollywood.
In the 1940s, Hollywood’s elite came to Malabar to visit Bromfield and to escape the rat race of New York City and Los Angeles.
The June visit was the first time Bogart and Power had traveled to Malabar Farm, but they knew their family’s history was intensely linked the farm grounds.
“The farm sounded fantastic. I’m a total history buff and I’m a total Hollywood history buff, so it was a no brainer. I said, ‘I’m there,’” Tyrone “Ty” Power, Jr., said.
It was place to relax and enjoy nature, but a visit also involved some hard work.
“Bromfield believed that everyone who came to the farm learned to work on the farm as well. So in the morning, you would get a little index card with the chores that you needed to do. So he’d have James Cagney selling produce down at the produce stand, Kay Francis maybe stirring apple butter or another celebrity helping birth a sheep or helping clean out the stalls,” said Louis Andres, District Manager at Ohio State Parks.
Bogart said that his father, Humphrey Bogart, loved writing and was friends with many writers.
He met Bromfield in a bar after a play at some point and they became fast friends and, of course, Louis was a phenomenal writer, Pulitzer Prize winner, great screen writer. So them coming back here to get married was great for him and great for my mother. And of course, we ended up with one of the puppies of Louis Bromfield’s boxer and we named the dog Harvey and then there was Baby a puppy from them and then George another puppy,” Bogart said.
It was during the filming of “To Have and Have Not” in 1944 when Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall first met. Stephen Bogart is named after Humphrey Bogart’s character in the film, Revish reported.
Bogart’s mother told him that she did not really like his father at first. Bacall was 19. Humphrey Bogart was 44.
The romance seen on the big screen soon flourished in real life, and the couple married at the farm.
“Louis was very good friends with Bogart and Bogart came to him and said ‘I want to have a simple wedding away from it all. I’d like to have it at your place. Will you be my best man?,’ and Louie said, ‘Sure, come on down to Malabar Farm’ so they came down over the weekend, went into Mansfield, Ohio, got a marriage license, they got married that weekend,” Andres said.
Andres said that the wedding was supposed to be a private affair, but the media got hold of the plans.
“When they went to have the wedding the lawn was covered with people and paparazzi and things, so they moved the wedding inside the house,” Andres said.
As Bogart walked up the stairs where his parents got married, he shared a story about the wedding day.
“They had a great time. She said in her (“Lauren Bacall: By Myself”) book, she was a little late coming down the stairs when the music started playing and people started calling up to George, ‘Where’s Betty? Where’s Betty?’ And George yelled down, ‘She’s in the can!’ So she was having a little nervousness before the wedding and she went to the bathroom, so she was a little late coming down the stairs but everything was OK and it worked out,” said Bogart.
After the wedding, the couple stayed the night at Malabar before jetting back to Hollywood life.
“It was very interesting going up to the honeymoon suite with the two beds on either side. Of course my mother was asked at one point from somebody who had visited Malabar, ‘Well there were two beds on either side of the door, what did you do?’ And my mother said, ‘We pushed them together,’” Bogart said.
Bogart said that his mother, who now lives in New York, never made a return trip to Malabar Farm after her wedding. He said that she was happy he was going and wanted to hear all about it upon his return.
Malabar Farm is an important part of Tyrone’s family history.
Bromfield produced the movie “The Rains Came” starring his father.
Power, who also is an actor, never got to meet his dad. He was born just two months after his father passed away in 1959.
“I remember getting almost a little bit scared at one point when I was a kid. My mother was putting on her makeup to go out for the evening. I walked in and stood in the doorway to ask a question and she went absolutely white. And I got frightened and I said, ‘What’s wrong? What going on?’ And apparently the way I was standing with my hand on my hip in a certain way, was exactly the way my father stood all the time. Now how would I know that at that age?” said Power.
Bogart, who now lives in Florida and manages his father’s name an image, was a young boy when his father died, as well.
“I have snapshots. He died when I was 8, which was 55 years ago and I have specific snapshots. I don’t have any movies in my head of continuous stuff, but I remember him. He was working a lot and he’d come home at night and he’d want to relax for a little bit and then he’d want to have dinner with my mother because it was very important to him. He was older when they got married, in 1945, he was 45 and she was 20. It was 25 years. So the most important thing to him was he wanted her with him. He never thought he’d be a parent until, of course, my mother got pregnant,” said Bogart.
As Bogart and Power toured the house in June, they reflected on the time capsule that is Malabar Farm.
“Kids now will have never seen anything like this except maybe fake sets in a movie. But the real stuff — to really see what it was like waking up in the morning and living here in 1945, is pretty special. It doesn’t really exist anymore,” Power said.
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