Imagine getting a call at your home from a friend that begins with “I’ve met this girl, Betty, and I want to marry her. I was hoping that we could do that at your farm in a couple of weeks.”
It just so happens that the call came from Humphrey Bogart and his soon to be bride was Betty Joan Perske - who recently took the stage name of Lauren Bacall. Just a year earlier they had starred together in the movie, “To Have and Have Not”, fell in love during filming, and we’re waiting for Bogie’s divorce from his third wife to become final.
It is one of Golden Hollywood’s most famous love affairs and iconic couples. Bogie & Bacall.
Well, we found out that the farm where the two escaped to to be married in 1945, was located in mid-state Ohio and right on our route back home! SO…naturally we stopped to check it out!
Malabar Farm was the home of Pulitzer Prize winning author, Louis Bromfield. It was built in 1939 after Bromfield’s bestseller, “The Rains Came” (1937), brought the author his first financial success. The “Big House” as Bromfield called it, would end up being a 32-room western-style homestead where he would write many of his books and entertain thousands of guests each year. Humphrey Bogart was just one of many of Hollywood’s elite that would visit the farm at times. Bogart and Bromfield became good friends during the filming of “It All Came True”, a 1940 movie based on Bromfield’s short story, “Better Than Life”.
Bromfield’s farm of over 1,000 acres became widely known for its use of innovative soil and water conservation techniques. He would, over the years, also explore hog & sheep breeding, egg production and would eventually narrow his livestock focus to dairy and beef. He would come to host many events at his farm in the 1940s that would showcase his practices and his farming success. As many as 20,000 people would visit the farm yearly to see and hear Bromfield talk about the techniques that he had learned while living in France in the early 1930s.
The home is really unusual in that SO many of Bromfield’s belongings were stored away after his death and now reside back in the home, making it a true time capsule. His wife and daughters did not have an interest in the home or it’s belongings after his passing in 1956. So, the home and it’s contents were given to the state for preservation. It became an Ohio State Park in 1976.
Now, the reason this stop was of greater interest to us, was the Bogie and Bacall tie-in. We love Old Hollywood and their love story has so many similarities with our’s! We met on stage. We fell in love during the production of our first, in our case, musical together. Our age difference is very similar.
And, there are many other similarities that we have always found endearing. We feel like we understand the connection and chemistry that Bogie and Bacall shared. ❤️ We were pretty excited to stand in the very same spot that Bogie and Bacall stood when taking their vows at the grand staircase. 🥰
We want to thank the staff at Malabar Farm for working with us, as we didn’t make as good of travel time that afternoon to get there. We especially thank our tour guide, Alana, for taking such great care and time to give us a thorough tour of the grounds in spite of our somewhat late arrival for our scheduled tour time. She was fantastic!
There is SO much more to this park than just the homestead and we fully intend to make it back to explore it more thoroughly.