Tales of old Hollywood open Town Hall series

WARREN – Two speakers from famous families shared stories of old Hollywood Wednesday at Packard Music Hall to open the 2013-14 Trumbull Town Hall series.

Stephen Bogart is the son of actors Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. His father died of cancer in 1957 when he was only 8 years old.

”Everything changed for me,” he told the crowd.

He left behind his friends and the only home he’d known when his mother decided to relocate to New York City. For about 20 years, he tried to ignore his legacy.

Because of the constant barrage of “Are you the son of …” that he heard wherever he went, Bogart said, “I ran away from who I was … You want to be your own person.”

Now, he embraces it and wishes his memories were stronger of his father. His most fond memories of dad are the times they spent together on his prized boat, The Santana. He said dad didn’t allow women on the boat because, “If women are on the boat we can’t pee over the side.”

Stephen Bogart ended his talk showing home movies of Bogart and Bacall and their famous friends (Frank Sinatra and Richard Burton among them) on that boat (and there were women on the boat in the movies) as well as a Bogart filming a screen test for a movie called “Top Secret Affair,” which he had to drop out of because of his failing health.

Sinatra almost became his stepfather. Bogart said the singer proposed to Bacall, but when the news was leaked, Sinatra canceled the engagement.

While he lost his dad at a young age, his mother is doing fine, Bogart said. Bacall celebrated her 89th birthday earlier this month and still lives at the Dakota, the famed New York building she has called home since 1961.

Also on the program was Cass Warner Sperling, the granddaughter of Warner Bros. cofounder Harry Warner and the daughter of Hollywood screenwriter / producer Milton Sperling.

While many knew Harry Warner as a tough businessman, she knew him as “the most loving grandpa anyone could wish for.”

Every Sunday the family went to his 1,100-acre ranch, where her grandpa would take her for tractor rides and they would enjoy a sumptuous spread, often featuring some of the cows and chicken raised on the farm.

Her grandfather died when she was 10, and she felt a responsibility to tell what she felt was the untold story of her family’s legacy. Much of her time was dominated by clips from “The Brothers Warners,” the 2007 documentary she wrote, directed and co-produced. She also shared with the audience a rare audio recording of an interview she did with Ronald Reagan as part of her research.

Her research on her family has been optioned for a feature film called “The Brothers.” The screenplay was written by Nicholas Pileggi (”GoodFellas,” “Casino”) and it is being sent to directors.

“Dreams to come true,” she said.


Tales of old Hollywood open Town Hall series

Tales from Hollywood insiders will open the 2013-14 Trumbull Town Hall lecture series.

Speaking Wednesday will be Cass Warner, the granddaughter of Warner Bros. cofounder Harry Warner; and Steven Bogart, the son of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

Warner wrote, directed and produced the 2008 documentary “The Brothers Warner,” a look at the family and its cinematic legacy that aired on PBS. Her most recent documentary is “Hopper: In His Own Words,” a look at the life and career of actor / director Dennis Hopper.

Bogart, who was 8 years old when his father died in 1957, worked for more than 30 years as a television news producer.

The multimedia program includes home movies featuring Humphrey Bogart, Bacall and many other stars of the day. Warner will show excerpts from “The Brothers Warner” and footage that never has been released to the public.

The lecture starts at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Packard Music Hall, 1703 Mahoning Ave. N.W., Warren. Single tickets are $25 and will be available at the box office the morning of the lecture.

It is the first for four programs on the 2013-14 schedule. Other lectures include:

Nov. 13 – Retired White House correspondent Sid Davis, who was in Dallas covering President John F. Kennedy when he was assassinated in 1963.

March 12, 2014 – Humorist Gina Barreca, who is the author of such books as “They Used to Call Me Snow White, But I Drifted,” “Perfect Husbands (and Other Fairy Tales)” and “Sweet Revenge: The Wicked Delights of Getting Even.”

April 9, 2014 – Journalist Steven Hartman, whose “Assignment America” reports regularly appear on the “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.”

Season tickets for the 2013-14 season are $60. For more information, call 330-373-1900.