The Drunken Antics Of Humphrey Bogart And His Huge Stuffed Panda

By Nolan Moore on Thursday, April 7, 2016
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“All you owe the public is a good performance.” —Humphrey Bogart

In A Nutshell

One of the most famous actors of all time, Humphrey Bogart was a colorful character with a fondness for alcohol. One boozy evening, he decided it would be a good idea to buy a stuffed panda. But when a young model tried to steal his stuffed bear, Bogart got physical and was forced to defend himself in court.

The Whole Bushel

With his well-known fedora, trademark scar, and tough guy persona, it’s easy to see why Humphrey Bogart is a Hollywood legend. The man has made some truly classic films, including The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, and The African Queen. Of course, if you know anything about Bogey, then you know there were two things in life he loved more than anything else: Lauren Bacall and booze. Bogart drank like there was no tomorrow, and on more than one occasion, his alcoholic ways got him into trouble.

For example, in September 1949, Bogart and a drinking buddy were boozing their way through New York City. Somewhere along the way, they stumbled across a store selling 9-kilogram (20 lb) stuffed pandas. In their alcohol-induced fog, Bogart and his friend thought it would be a good idea to buy a couple of these giant bears. Then, with their “dates” in tow, the duo made their way to the El Morocco nightclub and requested a table for four.

But during their whiskey-soaked evening, Bogart was spotted by a young model named Robin Roberts. Perhaps in an attempt to flirt, or more likely to gain some free publicity, Roberts made her way over to Bogart’s table and grabbed his new toy. When Bogart saw her manhandling his bear, the actor shouted, “Get away from me! I’m a happily married man. And don’t touch my panda!” He then shoved her away, causing Ms. Roberts to fall over. And as you might expect, this story did not end quietly.

Soon, Roberts was on the front page of a local newspaper, displaying bruises she claimed were Bogart’s fault. She charged the actor with assault, and several days later, Bogey was inside a Manhattan courtroom. Roberts’s lawyer argued that Bogart had attacked his client, but the judge didn’t see it that way. (It probably didn’t help Roberts’s case that her newspaper photos were taken by an agency that helped young models become Hollywood stars.) According to the judge, the panda was Bogart’s property, and “according to the penal code, any citizen had the right protect his property and even to use force.”

The judge let Bogart walk free, and as he exited the courtroom, he was greeted with cheers from happy New Yorkers. Robin Roberts was jeered as she walked down the street, and as for the panda, well, she refused to ever talk about the incident.

Show Me The Proof

Featured photo via Wikipedia
Telegraph: Humphrey Bogart, a young model and the stuffed pandas that landed him in court
The Guardian: Mr Bogart defends his own
You Must Remember This: Bogey, Before Bacall