Bogart's confidante, reputed mistress dies in New Orleans
The Associated Press
Saturday, February 9, 2008
NEW ORLEANS: Verita Bouvaire Thompson, the reputed longtime mistress and
confidante of Humphrey Bogart, has died. She was 89.
Thompson died of natural causes at JoEllen Smith Living Center on Feb. 1,
according to her boyfriend, Dean Shapiro, a 58-year-old New Orleans writer.
In 1982, Thompson wrote a revelatory book called "Bogie and Me: A Love
Story" in which she described a 14-year secret love affair with Bogart that
overlapped his marriage to Lauren Bacall. Subsequent Bogart biographies
corroborated her story.
Between 1950 and 1956, Thompson traveled with Bogart and prepared his
toupees, made his Scotch-and-soda drinks and responded to his fan mail.
She was described as Bogart's "toupee-minder, bartender, boat-mate,
traveling companion, confidante, adviser and mistress," in Jeffrey Meyers'
biography "Bogart: A Life in Hollywood."
"It's hard for people to accept that the Bogie and Bacall myth wasn't really
what it was," Shapiro said. "They were supposed to be this great Hollywood
couple, but Bogie was carrying on with Verita on the side."
Thompson and Bogart were a perfect fit for each other, Shapiro said.
"She could trade cuss word for cuss word and shot for shot with him. She
liked to drink, he liked to drink," he said. "They did a lot of crazy things
Estelle Mackey, a 25-year friend of Thompson's from Santa Monica,
California, said Thompson taught her "to live your life to the fullest and
enjoy everyday because you don't know what's going to happen and you can
sleep when you're dead."
All the way to her death, her friends said, Thompson adhered to a striking
style and outlook reminiscent of the 1940s and Bogart's movies, dressing in
Chanel suits, high heels, hat and gloves - with a whiskey smash in hand.
"Her idea of water was like W.C. Fields' idea of water: You dunk your hands
in it to clean them," Mackey said.
Born in 1918 in Nogales, Arizona, Thompson was raised by her paternal
grandparents and lived most of her youth in northern Mexico. After being
named runner-up in the 1935 Miss Arizona Pageant, she moved to Hollywood and
got a small part in a Western film before taking up residence in Mexico City
where she studied wig making.
She found work as a hairstylist in Hollywood and worked for Gary Cooper,
Charles Boyer, George Raft and Ray Milland, Shapiro said.
Thompson met Bogart at a cast wrap-up party for the blockbuster film
"Casablanca" in 1942.
"Bogie didn't like to dance, but honey, we danced the night away and from
that day on, we were lovers," she said in an interview with the
Times-Picayune newspaper in 1998.
"He called me 'Pete,' introduced me as his 'secretary and mistress,' because
he said, 'That'll throw 'em off; they'll think it's a rib,'" she said in the
interview. "He kidded me constantly. He was a sweet guy, a fascinating guy
and oh, darlin', did we had fun!"
When the affair began, Bogart was married to actress Mayo Methot and
Thompson to her first husband, Robert Peterson, Shapiro said. He said the
clandestine affair lasted until Thompson's marriage to cinematographer
Walter Thompson in 1955, overlapping Bogart's marriage to Bacall. Bogart
died in 1957.
Later, she entered the restaurant business and opened Verita's La Cantina on
Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and followed that with several other
restaurants. She moved to Natchez, Mississippi, in the late 1980s and began
living in New Orleans in the 1990s, where she opened a piano bar in the
French Quarter called "Bogie and Me."