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Lauren Bacall Had At Least an Emotional Affair With Presidential Candidate, New Book Says

The actor was married to Humphrey Bogart when she developed an attachment to Adlai Stevenson.

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart's marriage and onscreen collaborations make them one of the most legendary couples in Hollywood history. But, that doesn't mean that their relationship was without its ups and downs. In fact, it's been said that both of them had affairs while they were married. The new biography Bogie & Bacall: The Surprising True Story of Hollywood's Greatest Love Affair by William J. Mann explores the actors' love story, but one section is all about how Bacall had, at the minimum, an emotional affair with a well-known politician and one-time presidential hopeful.

The infatuation that Bacall had with Adlai Stevenson is something that she wrote about in her 1978 memoir, By Myself, which Mann pulls from for his new book. Read on to find out more about the man that Bacall said "shook [her] up completely," even though she was still married to her To Have and Have Not co-star.

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Bogart and Bacall married in 1945.

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall cutting their wedding cake in 1945
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Bacall and Bogart first met when they made the 1944 film To Have and Have Not. A year later, they got married. At the time, Bacall was 20 and Bogart was 45. It was the first marriage for Bacall and the fourth for Bogart. The couple welcomed a son, Stephen Humphrey Bogart, in 1949, and a daughter, Leslie Howard Bogart, in 1952.

They two remained married until Bogart's death in 1957 at age 57, and they starred in four movies together: To Have and Have Not, The Big SleepDark Passage, and Key Largo. Bacall went on to marry her second husband, Jason Robards, in 1961.

Bacall fell for a politician.

Adlai Stevenson in 1956
Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

According to the new biography—which is excerpted on Entertainment Weekly—Bacall and Bogart became big supporters of Adlai Stevenson during the 1952 presidential election, in which he ran as a democrat opposite republican Dwight D. Eisenhower. But, while both actors traveled to campaign stops to stump for Stevenson , Bacall's attraction to him became about more than his political views.

"At every speech from the beginning—every platform, breakfast, lunch— Stevenson would catch my eye and wave and smile at me," Bacall wrote (via EW). "To my fantasizing mind he seemed so vulnerable."

Unlike Bacall, Stevenson was divorced, and that alone put a target on him, because he was the first divorced major party candidate.

Bacall detailed her "fantasies" about Stevenson.

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall boarding a plane to go to an Adlai Stevenson event in 1952
Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images

In her book, Bacall shared just how much she was attracted to Stevenson, who, similar to Bogart, was 24 years her senior.

"I fantasized that I would be a long-distance partner … a good friend he could feel free to talk with about anything," she wrote, calling him "a great man capable of … bettering the world." She added, "It takes one person, who has real passion to unleash one's own comparable passions." She said that "something happened" within her from knowing Stevenson and that it changed her as a person.

"Until Adlai Stevenson, I was a perfectly happy woman with a husband whom I loved—a beautiful son and daughter—some success in my work—a beautiful home—money—not a care in the world," she wrote, but the politician "shook me up completely."

She also wrote that "it wasn't that [she] was dissatisfied with Bogie or loved him any less [but] Stevenson could help a different, obviously dormant part of [her] to grow."

It's unknown whether the affair went any further.

Adlai Stevenson circa 1955
MPI/Getty Images

Bogie & Bacall explains that it's unclear whether Bacall's affair with Stevenson ever became more than an emotional one. One time they visited each other in Palm Springs, and Mann writes, "If a sexual relationship developed between the two, it was likely there."

Bogie is said to have known about Bacall's attraction to Stevenson and told a friend, "Miss Bacall supports wholeheartedly Governor Stevenson, up to the vomiting point." He also reportedly tried to stop Bacall from visiting Stevenson in Illinois, but she went anyway.

It was during that trip, though, that Bacall's hopes of being the woman in Stevenson's life were dashed. She saw him with another woman and realized that she wasn't the only supporter with whom he was sharing an intimate friendship.

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Bacall dated another famous man, possibly before Bogart died.

Lauren Bacall and Frank Sinatra at an Oscars after party in 1955
Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Stevenson wasn't the only well-known man Bacall became interested in. Bogart and Bacall were both friends with Frank Sinatra, and Bacall and Sinatra ended up dating after the Maltese Falcon star's death. But, some sources have claimed that Bacall and Sinatra got together before Bogart died.

Either way, Bacall admitted that she was close to Sinatra emotionally as her husband was dying of esophageal cancer.

"During the last few months of that terrible illness, I guess I began to depend on Frank's presence," she wrote in By Myself (via the Daily Mail). "He represented physical health and vitality, and I needed that. Part of me just needed a man to talk to, and Frank turned out to be that man. It wasn't planned. It simply happened."

Bacall wasn't the only one interested in other people.

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart in 1951
Victor Drees/Evening Standard/Getty Images

According to Bogie & Bacall, Bacall wasn't the only person in the marriage to—potentially—have had affairs.

"Bogart, too, had his own infidelities, turning to his old flame Verita 'Pete' Thompson, closer in age and temperament to him," Mann writes. As reported by The Independent, Thompson wrote about the affair in her 1982 memoir, Bogie and Me.

"It's just my opinion, but Betty [Bacall] always struck me as being too chameleon-like; it seems to me that before marriage she flashed all the colours that Bogart found attractive," Thompson wrote. "For example, her interest in the Santana [Bogart's boat] and sailing delighted Bogie, for he spent—and wanted to spend—every spare moment sailing. But Betty's interest in going to sea with Bogie declined after he slipped a ring on the third finger of her left hand. Her dwindling interest in the Santana left clear sailing for me…"

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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