A son of Hollywood royalty will be in Baltimore this week, lending his support in the fight against the disease that killed his father 55 years ago.
Stephen Bogart, the son of acting legends Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, will be in town Oct. 24 to film a promotional spot for the Esophageal Cancer Action Network (ECAN), a three-year-old Baltimore-based non-profit promoting early detection and treatment of the disease. Humphrey Bogart, star of "Casablanca" and an Oscar-winner for "The African Queen," died of esophageal cancer in 1957, when his son was just 8.
Stephen Bogart, 63, will be taping a movie trailer and public service announcement at the MPT studios in Owings Mills. "ECAN has begun an impressive effort to put this little-known disease on the radar screen of at-risk people and their doctors," he said in a press release announcing his visit. "We hope our partnership and this campaign will allow us to reach a wide audience which has not yet heard the message that heartburn can cause cancer."
The younger Bogart wrote a memoir about his dad, "Bogart: In Search of My Father," published in 1996. In an interview shortly after the book was released, Stephen Bogart said living under the shadow of his late father wasn't always easy, and there was a time when he would sometimes not even acknowledge the relationship. But as the years passed, his pride in his father's accomplishments, as well as in the sort of man he was, grew. So did his comfort in talking about the man who, as the 20th century drew to a close, was ranked as Hollywood's No. 1 movie legend (by Entertainment Weekly) and as Hollywood's top male actor (by the American Film institute).
"He was a principled man," Stephen Bogart said of his father. "He was well-read. He was a loving father. I think he would have been a strict parent but a good parent. He treated people well and didn't think he was better than anybody else. He may have made more money and was more famous, but he didn't think he was any better."
Esophageal cancer is one of the fastest-growing cancer diagnoses in the U.S., according to statistics cited by ECAN, up more than 400 percent in the past 20 years. If not diagnosed until in its late stages, it can be especially lethal – fewer than one in five patients live more than five years, according to ECAN. But if diagnosed early, treatment can be effective.
ECAN was founded in 2009 by Mindy Mintz Mordecai, a former television reporter for WBAL and MPT whose husband, John "Monte" Mordecai, died of esophageal cancer in 2008.