Tags: African | Queen | Keys | Bogart

The 'African Queen' Sails Again in the Florida Keys

Friday, 13 Apr 2012 01:50 PM

By David A. Patten

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The African Queen, the original vessel from the 1951 classic John Huston film by the same name, has been restored and is now plying the tourist trade in the Florida Keys.

On Thursday Stephen Bogart, son of famed actors Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, participated in the Key Largo re-launch of the vessel that his father piloted in the movie.

The African Queen has been restored in the Florida Keys.
The African Queen sets sail in Key Largo, Fla., on April 12, 2012.
(Getty Images)
The 63-year-old Bogart followed in his father’s footsteps, taking the African Queen out for a ride.

The iconic riverboat is forever etched in cinema history for chugging its way through leech-infested African waterways, as the rugged Bogart and a prim missionary played by Katharine Hepburn fall madly in love.

The 30-foot, steel-hulled steamboat is a century old. It was built in England in 1912. It was known as the Livingstone when it was used by the British East Africa Rail Company to transport cargo in the Congo, before it was selected for its starring role.

After the movie, the boat was shipped off to the United States and largely was forgotten. For years, it was on display at a Holiday Inn in Key Largo. Then it was relegated to rust away at a local marina.

The owners of a Key Largo charter-boat firm, however, noticed that visitors would come from far and wide to gaze at the rusting symbol of romance. So they leased the African Queen and began the refurbishment.

Today, the African Queen has its own Facebook page. Trips are expected to cost about $45 apiece, departing from Key Largo. Ironically, that's the island in the Keys that lent its name to another famous Bogart film, "Key Largo," which co-starred Stephen’s mother Lauren Bacall.

Stephen Bogart, a real estate investor living in Naples, Fla., was 8 when his father died of lung cancer.

His actress-mother is now 87 and lives in New York. But he says she hasn’t been very active since a recent knee replacement.

“From her perspective,” Bogart tells The Vancouver Sun, “being born and having lived the life of Lauren Bacall is not a bad gig if you can get it.”

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