Tallaluah Bankhead

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Tallulah Brockman Bankhead

Hebrew: טאולה בנקהאד (ברוקמן בנקהאד)
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Huntsville, AL, USA
Death: Died in New York, NY, USA
Immediate Family:

Daughter of William B. Bankhead, 47th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and Ada Bankhead
Ex-wife of John Emery
Sister of Evelyn Eugenia Bankhead

Occupation: Actress; bon vivant
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Tallaluah Bankhead

Born to a prestigious family (her father became a prominent congressman), she made her Broadway debut in 1918 and achieved fame on the London stage in The Dancer (1923). Her vivid presence and throaty voice contributed to her singular performances in the hit plays The Little Foxes (1939), The Skin of Our Teeth (1942), and Private Lives (1946). She made films such as A Woman's Law (1928) and Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat (1944) but remained primarily a stage performer. Her final stage appearance was in The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (1964).

Easily Bored

Bankhead's first film was Tarnished Lady (1931), directed by George Cukor, and the pair became fast friends. Bankhead behaved herself on the set and filming went smoothly, but she found film-making to be very boring and didn't have the patience for it. She didn't like Hollywood either. When she met producer Irving Thalberg, she asked him, "How do you get laid in this dreadful place?"

Bankhead was not very interested in making films. The opportunity to make $50,000 per film, however, was too good to pass up. She later said, "The only reason I went to Hollywood was to fuck that divine Gary Cooper." One of Bankhead's most notorious events was an interview that she gave to Motion Picture magazine in 1932, in which she ranted wildly about the state of her life and her views on love, marriage, and children:

"I'm serious about love. I'm damned serious about it now.... I haven't had an affair for six months. Six months! Too long.... If there's anything the matter with me now, it's not Hollywood or Hollywood's state of mind.... The matter with me is, I WANT A MAN! ... Six months is a long, long while. I WANT A MAN!"[13]

Faghag Idol

What's my Line?

"Do you now or have you ever owned a parakeet named Gaylord?"

Links

Tallulah Brockman Bankhead (January 31, 1902 – December 12, 1968) was an American actress, talk-show host, and bonne vivante.

Life and career

Early life and family

Bankhead was born in Huntsville, Alabama, to William Brockman Bankhead and Adelaide Eugenia "Ada" Bankhead (née Sledge). She was named after her paternal grandmother. Her mother died as a result of blood poisoning on February 23, 1902, shortly after Tallulah's birth. Tallulah has been described as "an extremely homely child", overweight and with a deep, husky voice resulting from chronic bronchitis. However, others described her as an exhibitionist, performer, personality, and star from the very beginning.

She came from the powerful Bankhead and Brockman political family, active in the Democratic Party in the South in general and Alabama in particular. Her father was the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1936–1940.

She was the niece of Senator John H. Bankhead II and granddaughter of Senator John H. Bankhead. Bankhead herself was a Democrat, albeit one of a more liberal stripe than the rest of her family. Her elder sister and only sibling, Evelyn Eugenia (born January 24, 1901 – died 1979) was known as "Sister". Tallulah's family sent her to various schools in a vain attempt to keep her out of trouble, which included several years at a Roman Catholic convent school (although her father was a Methodist and her mother an Episcopalian). Bankhead herself would be raised as a Methodist.

Early career

In her autobiography, Bankhead claimed that her "first performance" was witnessed by none other than the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur. Her Aunt Marie gave the famous brothers a party at her home near Montgomery, Alabama, in which the guests were asked to entertain. "I won the prize for the top performance, with an imitation of my kindergarten teacher," Bankhead wrote. "The judges? Orville and Wilbur Wright."

At 15, Bankhead won a movie-magazine beauty contest and persuaded her family to let her move to New York. She quickly won bit parts, first appearing in a non-speaking role in The Squab Farm. During these early New York years, she became a peripheral member of the Algonquin Round Table and was known as a hard-partying girl-about-town. During this time she began to use cocaine and marijuana, going as far as saying "Cocaine isn't habit forming. I should know – I've been using it for years."[citation needed] However, she did not consume alcohol to any great degree. She became known for her wit, although as screenwriter Anita Loos, a minor fellow Roundtable member, said: "She was so pretty that we thought she must be stupid."[citation needed] She also became known for her outspokenness. Once, while in attendance at a party, a guest made a comment about rape, and Bankhead reportedly replied "I was raped in our driveway when I was eleven. You know darling, it was a terrible experience because we had all that gravel."[citation needed] She professed to having a ravenous appetite for sex, but not for a particular type. "I've tried several varieties of sex. The conventional position makes me claustrophobic. And the others give me either stiff neck or lockjaw", she said.

Once, at a party, one of her friends brought along a young man who boldly told Bankhead that he wanted to make love to her that night. She didn't bat an eye and said, "And so you shall, you wonderful, old-fashioned boy." Another version of the story holds that Bankhead met Chico Marx at a party before her reputation had overturned the presumption that William B. Bankhead's daughter would be disgusted by Marx's typically crude (yet generally effective) approach. According to Dick Cavett, after Marx had been cautioned to be on his best behavior with Bankhead, the two first spoke at the punch bowl.

"Miss Bankhead." "Mr. Marx." And, as everyone breathed a sigh of relief, Chico told her, "You know, I really want to fuck you.". She replied, "And so you shall, you old-fashioned boy."

In 1918, she made her stage debut at the Bijou Theatre in New York. In 1923, she made her debut on the London stage at Wyndham's Theatre. In London she was to appear in over a dozen plays in the next eight years, most famously, The Dancers. Her fame as an actress was ensured in 1924 when she played Amy in Sidney Howard's They Knew What They Wanted. The show won the 1925 Pulitzer Prize. She was famous not only as an actress but also for her many affairs, infectious personality and witticisms like "There is less to this than meets the eye" and "I'm as pure as the driven slush." She had the reputation of being sexually available to anyone she found attractive, famous or not. Her longest known affair during this period in her life was with an Italian businessman named Anthony de Bosdari, which lasted just over one year. By the end of the decade, she was one of the West End's — and England's — best-known and most notorious celebrities.

While in London, Bankhead also bought herself a Bentley, which she loved to drive. She wasn't very competent with directions, however, and constantly found herself lost in the London streets. She would telephone a taxi-cab and pay the driver to drive to her destination while she followed behind in her car.

During her eight years on the London stage, Bankhead earned a reputation for making the most out of inferior material. For example, in her autobiography, Bankhead described the opening night of a play called Conchita:

“In the second act…I came on carrying a monkey…On opening night the monkey went berserk…(he) snatched my black wig from my head, leaped from my arms and scampered down to the footlights. There he paused, peered out at the audience, then waved my wig over his head…The audience had been giggling at the absurd plot even before this simian had at me. Now it became hysterical. What did Tallulah do in this crisis? I turned a cartwheel! The audience roared…After the monkey business I was afraid they might boo me. Instead I received an ovation.”

Mid career

Bankhead returned to the US in 1931, but Hollywood success eluded her in her first four films of the 1930s. She rented a home at 1712 Stanley Street, in Hollywood, and began hosting parties that were said to "have no boundaries". On September 9, 1932, she was featured on the cover of Film Weekly.

Bankhead's first film was Tarnished Lady (1931), directed by George Cukor, and the pair became fast friends. Bankhead behaved herself on the set and filming went smoothly, but she found film-making to be very boring and didn't have the patience for it. She didn't like Hollywood either. When she met producer Irving Thalberg, she asked him, "How do you get laid in this dreadful place?"

She expressed some interest in spirituality, but did not outwardly pursue it, although in 1932 she met with the Indian spiritual teacher Meher Baba.

Although Bankhead was not very interested in making films, the opportunity to make $50,000 per film was too good to pass up. Her 1932 movie Devil and the Deep is notable for the presence of three major co-stars: Gary Cooper, Charles Laughton, and Cary Grant. She later said, "The only reason I went to Hollywood was to fuck that divine Gary Cooper." One of Bankhead's most notorious events was an interview that she gave to Motion Picture magazine in 1932, in which she ranted wildly about the state of her life and her views on love, marriage, and children:

"I'm serious about love. I'm damned serious about it now.... I haven't had an affair for six months. Six months! Too long.... If there's anything the matter with me now, it's not Hollywood or Hollywood's state of mind.... The matter with me is, I WANT A MAN! ... Six months is a long, long while. I WANT A MAN!"

Bisexuality and alleged sexual exploits

The interview created quite a commotion. Time ran a story about it, and, back home, Bankhead's father and family were perturbed. Bankhead immediately telegraphed her father, vowing never to speak with a magazine reporter again. However, following the release of the Kinsey Reports, she was once quoted as stating, "I found no surprises in the Kinsey Report. The good doctor's clinical notes were old hat to me...I've had many momentary love affairs. A lot of these impromptu romances have been climaxed in a fashion not generally condoned. I go into them impulsively. I scorn any notion of their permanence. I forget the fever associated with them when a new interest presents itself."

Rumors about her sex life have lingered for years, and she was linked romantically with many notable female personalities of the day, including Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Eva Le Gallienne, Laurette Taylor, Katharine Cornell and Alla Nazimova, as well as writer Mercedes de Acosta, the wealthy Betty Carstairs, and singer Billie Holiday.

Actress Patsy Kelly reportedly made a claim to controversial author Boze Hadleigh, which he included in his 1996 book about lesbianism in Hollywood, that she had had a long affair with Bankhead, although Hadleigh’s work has been criticized as opportunistic and unconfirmable. John Gruen's Menotti: A Biography notes an incident in which Jane Bowles chased Bankhead around Capricorn, Gian Carlo Menotti and Samuel Barber's Mount Kisco estate, insisting that Bankhead needed to play the lesbian character Inès in Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit (which Paul Bowles had recently translated), but Bankhead locked herself in the bathroom and kept insisting "That lesbian! I wouldn't know a thing about it."

In 1933, Bankhead nearly died following a five-hour emergency hysterectomy due to venereal disease. Only 70 pounds (32 kg) when she left the hospital, she stoically said to her doctor, "Don't think this has taught me a lesson!"

Hollywood, Broadway and politics

In 1934, after recuperating in Alabama, she returned to England. After only a short stay, she was called back to New York to play in Dark Victory. Although Bette Davis played the leading character in the film version, she openly admitted in later years that she had emulated Bankhead in the role.[citation needed] Bankhead continued to play in various performances over the next few years, gaining excellent notices for her portrayal of Elizabeth in a revival of Somerset Maugham's The Circle. David O. Selznick, producer of Gone With the Wind (1939) called her the "first choice among established stars" to play Scarlett O'Hara.[citation needed] Although her screen test for the role in black-and-white was superb, she photographed poorly in Technicolor. Selznick also reportedly believed that at age 36, she was too old to play Scarlett, who is 16 at the beginning of the film (the role eventually went to Vivien Leigh). Selznick sent Kay Brown to Bankhead to "sound her out" about playing prostitute Belle Watling in the film, which she turned down.

Returning to Broadway, Bankhead's career stalled in unmemorable plays. When she appeared in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra with her husband, John Emery, the New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson wrote "Tallulah Bankhead barged down the Nile, last night, and promptly sank!"[citation needed] Her portrayal of the cold, ruthless Regina Giddens in Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes (1939) won her the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Performance, but Bankhead and Hellman feuded over the Soviet Union's invasion of Finland. Bankhead (a staunch anti-Communist) was said to want a portion of one performance's proceeds to go to Finnish relief, while Hellman (an equally staunch Stalinist) objected strenuously, and the two women didn't speak for the next quarter of a century.

More success and the same award followed her 1942 performance in Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth, in which Bankhead played Sabina, the housekeeper and temptress, opposite Fredric March and Florence Eldridge (Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus, and also husband and wife offstage). During the run of the play, some media accused Bankhead of a running feud with Elia Kazan, the play's director. Kazan confirmed the story in his autobiography, 'Elia Kazan: A Life', published by Doubleday, 1988, and he stated that Bankhead was one of the few people in his life that he ever actually detested.

In 1944, Alfred Hitchcock cast her as the cynical journalist, Constance Porter, in her most successful film, both critically and commercially, Lifeboat. Her performance was acknowledged as her best on film, and won her the New York Film Critics Circle Award. Almost childlike in her immodesty, a beaming Tallulah accepted her New York trophy and exclaimed, "Dahlings, I was wonderful!"[citation needed] After World War II, Bankhead appeared in a revival of Noel Coward's Private Lives, taking it on tour and then to Broadway for the better part of two years. The play's run made Bankhead a fortune. From that time, Bankhead could command 10% of the gross and was billed larger than any other actor in the cast, although she usually granted equal billing to Estelle Winwood, a frequent co-star and close friend from the 1920s until Bankhead's death in 1968.

Bankhead circulated widely in the celebrity crowd of her day, and was a party favorite for outlandish stunts such as underwearless cartwheels in a skirt or entering a soirée stark naked.[citation needed] Always extravagant, upon leaving the theater one evening she encountered a Salvation Army band passing around the tambourine. Reaching into her purse, Bankhead withdrew a twenty dollar bill, tossed it into the tambourine and exited into a taxi with the remark, "There dahlings, I know it's been a rough winter for you Spanish dancers".

Like her family, Bankhead was a Democrat, but broke with most Southerners by campaigning for Harry Truman's reelection in 1948. While viewing the Inauguration parade, she booed the South Carolina float which carried then-Governor Strom Thurmond, who had recently run against Truman on the Dixiecrat ticket, splitting the Democratic vote. She is credited with having helped Truman immeasurably by belittling his rival, New York's Governor Thomas E. Dewey. Bankhead said Dewey reminded her of "the little man on the wedding cake", although Alice Roosevelt Longworth is often credited with the comment.

Late career

Though Bankhead's career slowed in the mid-1950s, she never faded from the public eye. Although she had become a heavy drinker and consumer of sleeping pills (she was a life-long insomniac), Bankhead continued to perform in the 1950s and 1960s on Broadway, in the occasional film, as a highly-popular radio show host, and in the new medium of television.

In 1950, in an effort to cut into the rating leads of The Jack Benny Program and The Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy Show which had jumped from NBC radio to CBS radio the previous season, NBC spent millions over the two seasons of The Big Show starring "the glamorous, unpredictable" Tallulah Bankhead as its host, in which she acted not only as mistress of ceremonies but also performed monologues and songs, many of which can be heard on the album Give My Regards To Broadway!.[citation needed] Despite Meredith Willson's Orchestra and Chorus and top guest stars from Broadway, Hollywood and radio, The Big Show, which earned rave reviews, failed to do more than dent Jack Benny's and Edgar Bergen's ratings.

Bankhead, who proved a masterful comedienne and intriguing personality, however, was not blamed for the failure of The Big Show as television's growth was hurting all radio ratings at the time, so the next season NBC installed her as one of a half-dozen rotating hosts of NBC's The All Star Revue on Saturday nights. Bankhead's most popular television appearance was her December 3, 1957 appearance on The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. Bankhead played herself in the episode titled "The Celebrity Next Door". The part was originally slated for Bette Davis, but she had to bow out after cracking her vertebra. Lucille Ball reportedly was a fan of Bankhead's and did a good impression of her. By the time the episode was filmed, however, both Ball and Desi Arnaz were extremely frustrated by Bankhead's behavior during rehearsals. It took her three hours to "wake up" once she arrived on the set and she often seemed drunk. She also refused to listen to the director and she did not like rehearsing. Ball and Arnaz apparently didn't know about Tallulah's antipathy toward rehearsals or her incredible ability to memorize a script quickly. After rehearsals, the filming of the episode was not problematic. Four days before the Lucy-Desi appearance aired, Bankhead was the only guest on the November 30, 1957 episode of the short-lived NBC comedy/variety show, The Polly Bergen Show.

Bankhead appeared as Blanche DuBois in a revival of Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire (1956), but reviews were poor. Fans who saw her late into the six-week run at City Center were graced with a far better performance. She received a Tony Award nomination for her performance of a bizarre 50-year-old mother in the short-lived Mary Coyle Chase play, Midgie Purvis (1961). Her last theatrical appearance was in another Williams play, The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (1963). Although she received good notices for her last performances, her career as one of the greats of the American stage was coming to an end. Her last motion picture was a British horror film, Fanatic (1965), co-starring Stefanie Powers, which was released in the U.S. as Die! Die! My Darling!. Her last appearances onscreen came in March 1967 as the villainous Black Widow in the Batman TV series, and on the December 17, 1967, episode of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour comedy-variety TV series, in the "Mahta Harry" skit.

According to author Brendan Gill, when Bankhead entered the hospital for an illness, an article was headed "Tallulah Hospitalized, Hospital Tallulahized". Bankhead's large, charismatic personality inspired voice actress Betty Lou Gerson's work on the character Cruella De Vil in Walt Disney Pictures' One Hundred and One Dalmatians, which the studio calls "a manic take-off on famous actress Tallulah Bankhead."

Personal life

Bankhead married actor John Emery, the son of stage actors Edward Emery (circa 1861–1938) and Isabel Waldron (1871–1950), on August 31, 1937 in Jasper, Alabama. They divorced on June 13, 1941 in Reno, Nevada.

Bankhead had no children but was the godmother of Brook and Brockman Seawell, children of her lifelong friend, actress Eugenia Rawls, and Rawls's husband, Donald Seawell. Bankhead was an avid baseball fan whose favorite team was the New York Giants. This was evident in one of her famous quotes, through which she gave a nod to the arts: "There have been only two geniuses in the world, Willie Mays and Willie Shakespeare. But, darling, I think you'd better put Shakespeare first."

Death

Tallulah Bankhead died in St. Luke's Hospital in New York City of double pneumonia, complicated by emphysema and malnutrition, at 7:45 A.M. on December 12, 1968, aged 66. She was buried in Saint Paul's Churchyard, Chestertown, Maryland. Her last coherent words reportedly were "Codeine... bourbon."

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Tallulah Bankhead has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6141 Hollywood Blvd.

Portrayals of Bankhead

Valerie Harper starred as Bankhead in Looped, which originated at The Pasadena Playhouse. It opened on Broadway on March 14, 2010 at the Lyceum Theatre, and closed on April 11, 2010.

Other actresses to portray Bankhead include Eugenia Rawls (in her one-woman stage show "Tallulah, A Memory"), Kathleen Turner (in Sandra Ryan Heyward's one-woman touring show "Tallulah" in the late 1990s), Carrie Nye (on television in The Scarlett O'Hara War) and Helen Gallagher in an off-Broadway musical, Tallulah!

MI5 investigation of Eton school scandal

In 2000, declassified papers thrust Bankhead into the limelight of public scandal posthumously. She had been investigated by MI5 during the 1920s amid rumors she was corrupting pupils at Eton. The documents alleged that she seduced up to half a dozen public schoolboys into taking part in "indecent and unnatural" acts. This rumor had sent shockwaves through the 1920s British establishment.

The documents compiled by the British Aliens and Immigration Department allege that the investigation was scuttled by a determined cover-up by Eton's headmaster, Dr. Cyril Argentine Alington. The allegations were based purely on gossip and word of mouth, and lacked credible evidence. It appears that they were assembled by MI5 at the urgings of a Home Office minister.

Sources: Find A Grave, Wikipedia


Tallulah Bankhead From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (April 2012) Tallulah Bankhead Tallulah Bankhead 1941.JPG Bankhead in 1941 Born Tallulah Brockman Bankhead January 31, 1902 Huntsville, Alabama, U.S. Died December 12, 1968 (aged 66) New York City, New York, U.S. Cause of death Pneumonia complicated by emphysema and malnutrition Resting place Saint Paul's Churchyard, Kent, Maryland Nationality American Occupation Actress Years active 1918–1968 Spouse(s) John Emery (m. 1937–41) Parent(s) William B. Bankhead Adelaide Eugenia "Ada" Bankhead Relatives John Hollis Bankhead (grandfather) John Hollis Bankhead II (uncle) Tallulah Brockman Bankhead (January 31, 1902 – December 12, 1968) was an American actress of the stage and screen, talk-show host, and reputed libertine.[1][2] Bankhead was also known for her deep voice, flamboyant personality and support of liberal causes, which broke with the tendency of Southern Democrats at the time to support a more conservative agenda. She was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame in 1981.[3]

Contents [hide] 1 Early life and family 2 Career 2.1 Early years 2.2 Hollywood and Broadway 2.3 Later years 3 Personal life 3.1 Religion and politics 3.2 Marriage 3.3 Sexuality and sexual exploits 4 Death 5 MI5 investigation of Eton school scandal 6 Credits 6.1 Broadway 6.2 Filmography 7 Radio appearances 8 In popular culture 8.1 Fictional portrayals 9 References 9.1 Notes 9.2 Sources 9.3 Further reading 10 External links Early life and family[edit] Bankhead was born in Huntsville, Alabama, to William Brockman Bankhead and Adelaide Eugenia "Ada" Bankhead (née Sledge). She was born on the second floor of what is now known as the Isaac Schiffman Building; a marker was erected to commemorate the site and, in 1980, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.[4] "Tallu" was named after her paternal grandmother. Her mother died of blood poisoning (septicemia) on February 23, 1902, three weeks after Bankhead's birth. She had an elder sister, Evelyn Eugenia.[5]

She came from the powerful Bankhead-and-Brockman political family, active in the Democratic Party in the South in general and Alabama in particular. Her father was the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1936 to 1940. She was the niece of Senator John H. Bankhead II and granddaughter of Senator John H. Bankhead.[5]

She and her sister were mostly reared by their paternal grandmother, Tallulah James Brockman Bankhead, at Sunset in Jasper, Alabama.[5] Bankhead's family sent her to various schools in a vain attempt to keep her out of trouble - including several years at a Roman Catholic convent school (although her father was a Methodist and her mother an Episcopalian).[6] She also attended Mary Baldwin College. The young Bankhead was described as "an extremely homely child", overweight, and with a deep, husky voice resulting from chronic bronchitis.[7] However, others described her as an exhibitionist, performer, personality, and star from the very beginning.[8]

Career[edit] Early years[edit] In her autobiography, Bankhead claimed that her "first performance" was witnessed by none other than the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur. Her Aunt Marie gave the famous brothers a party at her home near Montgomery, Alabama, in which the guests were asked to entertain. "I won the prize for the top performance, with an imitation of my kindergarten teacher", Bankhead wrote. "The judges? Orville and Wilbur Wright."[9]

At 15, Bankhead won a movie-magazine beauty contest and persuaded her family to let her move to New York. She quickly won bit parts, first appearing in a nonspeaking role in The Squab Farm. During these early New York years, she became a peripheral member of the Algonquin Round Table and was known as a hard-partying girl-about-town. During this time, she began to use cocaine and marijuana, going as far as saying, "Cocaine isn't habit-forming and I know because I've been taking it for years."[10]

In 1918, she made her stage debut at the Bijou Theatre in New York. In 1923, she made her debut on the London stage at Wyndham's Theatre. In London, she was to appear in over a dozen plays over the next eight years, most famously, The Dancers. Her fame as an actress was ensured in 1924 when she played Amy in Sidney Howard's They Knew What They Wanted. The show won the 1925 Pulitzer Prize. She was famous not only as an actress but also for her many affairs, compelling personality and witticisms like, "There is less to this than meets the eye." and "I'm as pure as the driven slush."[11][12]

Welsh artist Augustus John with Bankhead and her portrait (1929) While in London, Bankhead bought herself a Bentley, which she loved to drive. She was not very competent with directions and constantly found herself lost in the London streets. She would telephone a taxi-cab and pay the driver to drive to her destination while she followed behind in her car.[13] During her eight years on the London stage, Bankhead earned a reputation for making the most out of inferior material. For example, in her autobiography, Bankhead described the opening night of a play called Conchita:

"In the second act ... I came on carrying a monkey ... On opening night the monkey went berserk ... (he) snatched my black wig from my head, leaped from my arms and scampered down to the footlights. There he paused, peered out at the audience, then waved my wig over his head ... The audience had been giggling at the absurd plot even before this simian had at me. Now it became hysterical. What did Tallulah do in this crisis? I turned a cartwheel! The audience roared ... After the monkey business I was afraid they might boo me. Instead I received an ovation."[14]

Hollywood and Broadway[edit] Bankhead returned to the United States in 1931 but Hollywood success eluded her in her first four films of the 1930s. She rented a home at 1712 Stanley Street, in Hollywood and began hosting parties that were said to "have no boundaries". Bankhead's first film was Tarnished Lady (1931), directed by George Cukor and the pair became fast friends. Bankhead behaved herself on the set and filming went smoothly but she found film-making to be very boring and did not have the patience for it. She didn't like Hollywood either; when she met producer Irving Thalberg, she asked him, "How do you get laid in this dreadful place?" Thalberg retorted, "I'm sure you'll have no problem. Ask anyone."[15] Although Bankhead was not very interested in making films, the opportunity to make $50,000 per film was too good to pass up. Her 1932 movie Devil and the Deep is notable for the presence of three major co-stars, with Bankhead receiving top billing over Gary Cooper, Charles Laughton and Cary Grant, it is the only film with Cooper and Grant as the film's leading men. She later said, "Dahling, the main reason I accepted [the part] was to fuck that divine Gary Cooper!"[16]

Portrait by Carl Van Vechten (1934) In 1933, Bankhead nearly died following a five-hour emergency hysterectomy due to venereal disease. Only 70 pounds (32 kg) when she left the hospital, she stoically said to her doctor, "Don't think this has taught me a lesson!"[39]. In 1934, after recuperating in Alabama, she returned to England. After only a short stay, she was called back to New York to play in Dark Victory. Although Bette Davis played the leading character in the 1939 film version, she openly admitted in later years that she had emulated Bankhead in the role. Bankhead continued to play in various performances over the next few years, gaining excellent notices for her portrayal of Elizabeth in a revival of Somerset Maugham's The Circle.

David O. Selznick, producer of Gone with the Wind (1939) called her the "first choice among established stars" to play Scarlett O'Hara.[17] Although her screen test for the role in black-and-white was superb, she photographed poorly in Technicolor. Selznick also reportedly believed that at age 36, she was too old to play Scarlett, who is 16 at the beginning of the film (the role eventually went to Vivien Leigh). Selznick sent Kay Brown to Bankhead to discuss the possibility of Bankhead playing prostitute Belle Watling in the film, which she turned down.[18] The search for Scarlett O'Hara was documented in the The Scarlet O'Hara Wars episode of the mini-series Moviola where the very similar Carrie Nye played Bankhead, being nominated for an Emmy Award. Among the many other actors who have played Tallulah (mostly on stage) are Helen Gallagher, Tovah Feldshuh, Kathleen Turner and Valerie Harper.

Returning to Broadway, Bankhead's career stalled at first in unmemorable plays. When she appeared in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra with her husband, John Emery, the New York Evening Post critic John Mason Brown wrote "Tallulah Bankhead barged down the Nile last night as Cleopatra – and sank."[19] However, her memorable portrayal of the cold, ruthless Regina Giddens in Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes (1939) won her the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Performance. During the run, she was featured on the cover of Life magazine. Bankhead and playwright Hellman, both formidable women, feuded over the Soviet Union's invasion of Finland. Bankhead (a staunch anti-Communist) was said to want a portion of one performance's proceeds to go to Finnish relief, while Hellman (who had defended the Moscow Trials of 1936, and was a member of the Communist Party USA in 1938-40) objected strenuously, and the two women did not speak for the next quarter of a century.[20]

More success and another New York Drama Critics' Circle Award followed her 1942 performance in Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth, in which Bankhead played Sabina, the housekeeper and temptress, opposite Fredric March and Florence Eldridge (Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus, and also husband and wife offstage). During the run of the play, some media sources accused Bankhead of conducting a running feud with Elia Kazan, the play's director, which Kazan confirmed in his autobiography, Elia Kazan: A Life, published by Doubleday in 1988. Kazan stated that Bankhead was one of the few people in his life that he ever actually detested.[21]

Lobbycard from Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat (1944) In 1944, Alfred Hitchcock cast her as cynical journalist Constance Porter in her most successful film, both critically and commercially, Lifeboat. Her performance was acknowledged as her best on film and won her the New York Film Critics Circle Award. A beaming Bankhead accepted her New York trophy and exclaimed, "Dahlings, I was wonderful!"[22] After World War II, Bankhead appeared in a revival of Noël Coward's Private Lives, taking it on tour and then to Broadway for the better part of two years. The play's run made Bankhead a fortune. From that time, Bankhead could command 10% of the gross and was billed larger than any other actor in the cast, although she usually granted equal billing to Estelle Winwood, a frequent co-star and close friend from the 1920s until Bankhead's death in 1968.[20]

Bankhead circulated widely in the celebrity crowd of her day and was a party favorite for outlandish stunts, such as doing cartwheels in a skirt while wearing no underwear or entering a soirée stark naked. Always extravagant, upon leaving the theater one evening she encountered a Salvation Army band passing around the tambourine. Reaching into her purse, Bankhead withdrew a twenty dollar bill, tossed it into the tambourine and exited into a taxi with the remark, "There darlings, I know it's been a rough winter for you Spanish dancers."[13]

Later years[edit] Though Bankhead's career slowed in the mid-1950s, she never faded from the public eye. Although she had become a heavy smoker (reportedly 150 cigarettes/day), heavy drinker, and consumer of sleeping pills (she was a lifelong insomniac), Bankhead continued to perform in the 1950s and 1960s on Broadway, in the occasional film, as a highly popular radio show host, and in the new medium of television.

In 1950, in an effort to cut into the rating leads of The Jack Benny Program and The Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy Show which had jumped from NBC radio to CBS radio the previous season, NBC spent millions over the two seasons of The Big Show starring "the glamorous, unpredictable" Tallulah Bankhead as its host, in which she acted not only as mistress of ceremonies, but also performed monologues and songs. Despite Meredith Willson's Orchestra and Chorus and top guest stars from Broadway, Hollywood, and radio, The Big Show, which earned rave reviews, failed to do more than dent Jack Benny's and Edgar Bergen's ratings.

The next season, NBC installed her as one of a half-dozen rotating hosts of NBC's The All Star Revue on Saturday nights. Bankhead's most popular television appearance was her December 3, 1957, appearance on The Ford Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show. Bankhead played herself in the classic episode titled "The Celebrity Next Door". The part was originally slated for Bette Davis, but Davis had to bow out after cracking a vertebra. Lucille Ball was reportedly a fan of Bankhead and did a good impression of her. By the time the episode was filmed, however, both Ball and Desi Arnaz were deeply frustrated by Bankhead's behavior during rehearsals. It took her three hours to "wake up" once she arrived on the set and she often seemed drunk. She also refused to listen to the director and she did not like rehearsing. Ball and Arnaz apparently did not know about Bankhead's antipathy to rehearsals or her ability to memorize a script quickly. After rehearsals, the filming of the episode proceeded without a hitch and Ball congratulated Bankhead on her performance.

In 1956, Bankhead appeared as Blanche DuBois in a revival of Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire (1956), but reviews were poor. She received a Tony Award nomination for her performance of a bizarre 50-year-old mother in the short-lived Mary Coyle Chase play, Midgie Purvis (1961). Her last theatrical appearance was in another Williams play, The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (1963), directed by Tony Richardson.[23] Although she received good notices for her last performances, her career on the American stage was coming to an end.

Her last motion picture was a British horror film, Fanatic (1965), co-starring Stefanie Powers, which was released in the U.S. as Die! Die! My Darling!. Her last appearances onscreen came in March 1967 as the villainous Black Widow in the Batman TV series, and on the December 17, 1967, episode of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour comedy-variety TV series, in the "Mahta Harry" skit.[24] She also appeared on NBC's famous lost Tonight Show Beatles interview that aired on May 14, 1968.[25] Sitting behind the interview desk and beside Joe Garagiola, who was substituting for an absent Johnny Carson, she took an active role during the interview, questioning Paul McCartney and John Lennon.[26] George Harrison and Ringo Starr were not present and were in England at the time, as noted during the interview.

Personal life[edit] Bankhead was an avid baseball fan whose favorite team was the New York Giants.[27] This was evident in one of her famous quotes, through which she gave a nod to the arts: "There have been only two geniuses in the world, Willie Mays and Willie Shakespeare. But, darling, I think you'd better put Shakespeare first."[28]

Religion and politics[edit] Bankhead expressed some interest in spirituality, but in general did not pursue this interest outwardly. In 1932 she met the Indian spiritual teacher Meher Baba.[29]

Like her family, Bankhead was a Democrat but broke with many Southerners by campaigning for Harry Truman's reelection in 1948. While viewing the Inauguration parade, she booed the South Carolina float which carried then-Governor Strom Thurmond, who had recently run against Truman on the Dixiecrat ticket, splitting the Democratic vote.[30] She is credited with having helped Truman immeasurably by belittling his rival, New York's Governor Thomas E. Dewey.[31]

Marriage[edit] Bankhead married actor John Emery, the son of stage actors Edward Emery (circa 1861–1938) and Isabel Waldron (1871–1950), on August 31, 1937, at her father's home in Jasper, Alabama.[32] Bankhead filed for divorce in Reno, Nevada, in May 1941.[33] It was finalized on June 13, 1941. The day her divorce became final, Bankhead told a reporter, "You can definitely quote me as saying there will be no plans for a remarriage."[34]

Bankhead had no children, but she had four abortions before she was 30.[35] She was the godmother of Brook and Brockman Seawell, children of her lifelong friend, actress Eugenia Rawls, and Rawls's husband, Donald Seawell.[36]

Sexuality and sexual exploits[edit] An interview that Bankhead gave to Motion Picture magazine in 1932 generated controversy. In the interview, Bankhead ranted wildly about the state of her life and her views on love, marriage, and children:

"I'm serious about love. I'm damned serious about it now ... I haven't had an affair for six months. Six months! Too long ... If there's anything the matter with me now, it's not Hollywood or Hollywood's state of mind ... The matter with me is, I WANT A MAN! ... Six months is a long, long while. I WANT A MAN!"[37]

Time ran a story about it, and, back home, Bankhead's father and family were perturbed. Bankhead immediately telegraphed her father, vowing never to speak with a magazine reporter again. However, following the release of the Kinsey Reports, she was once quoted as stating, "I found no surprises in the Kinsey Report. The good doctor's clinical notes were old hat to me ... I've had many momentary love affairs. A lot of these impromptu romances have been climaxed in a fashion not generally condoned. I go into them impulsively. I scorn any notion of their permanence. I forget the fever associated with them when a new interest presents itself."[38]

In 1933, Bankhead nearly died following a five-hour emergency hysterectomy due to venereal disease. Only 70 pounds (32 kg) when she left the hospital, she stoically said to her doctor, "Don't think this has taught me a lesson!"[39]

Rumors about Bankhead's sex life have lingered for years, and she was linked romantically with many notable female personalities of the day, including Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Eva Le Gallienne, Hattie McDaniel, and Alla Nazimova, as well as writer Mercedes de Acosta and singer Billie Holiday.[22] Actress Patsy Kelly claimed she had a sexual relationship with Bankhead when she worked for her as a personal assistant.[40] John Gruen's Menotti: A Biography notes an incident in which Jane Bowles chased Bankhead around Capricorn, Gian Carlo Menotti's and Samuel Barber's Mount Kisco estate, insisting that Bankhead needed to play the lesbian character Inès in Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit (which Paul Bowles had recently translated). Bankhead locked herself in the bathroom and kept insisting "That lesbian! I wouldn't know a thing about it."[41]

Bankhead never publicly described herself as being bisexual. She did, however, describe herself as "ambisextrous".[42]

Death[edit] On December 12, 1968, Bankhead died in St. Luke's Hospital in Manhattan at 7:45 a.m., aged 66. The cause of death was pleural pneumonia, complicated by emphysema, malnutrition, and possibly a strain of the Hong Kong flu which was running worldwide at that time. Her last coherent words reportedly were, "Codeine ... bourbon."[43]

A private funeral was held at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Kent County, Maryland on December 14. A memorial service was held at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in New York City on December 16.[44] She was buried in Saint Paul's Churchyard, near Chestertown, Maryland, where her sister lived.[2]

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Bankhead has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6141 Hollywood Blvd.[45]

MI5 investigation of Eton school scandal[edit] In 2000, declassified papers posthumously thrust Bankhead into the limelight of public scandal. She had been investigated by MI5 during the 1920s amid rumors she was corrupting pupils at Eton. The documents alleged that she seduced up to six under-age schoolboys into taking part in "indecent and unnatural" acts.[46]

The documents compiled by the British Aliens and Immigration Department allege that the investigation was blocked by a determined cover-up by Eton's headmaster, Dr. Cyril Argentine Alington. The allegations were based purely on gossip, and lacked credible evidence. The information was collected by MI6, apparently at the insistence of a Home Office minister.[46]

Credits[edit] Broadway[edit] Date Production Role Notes March 13 – April 1918 The Squab Farm May 10 – June 1920 Footloose Rose de Brissac March 2 – June 1921 Nice People Hallie Livingston November 16, 1921 – January 1922 Everyday Phyllis Nolan September 22 – October 1922 The Exciters "Rufus" Rand March 1 – June 1933 Forsaking All Others Mary Clay November 7 – December 1934 Dark Victory Judith Traherne February 12 – March 1935 Rain Sadie Thompson Revival April 29 – July 1935 Something Gay Moncia Grey September 21, 1936 – January 1937 Reflected Glory Miss Flood November 10 – 1937 Antony and Cleopatra Cleopatra Revival April 18 – June 1938 The Circle Elizabeth Revival February 15, 1939 – February 3, 1940 The Little Foxes Regina Giddens December 27, 1941 – February 7, 1942 Clash by Night Mae Wilenski November 18, 1942 – September 25, 1943 The Skin of Our Teeth Sabina March 13 – June 9, 1945 Foolish Notion Sophie Wang March 19 – April 12, 1947 The Eagle Has Two Heads The Queen October 4, 1948 – May 7, 1949 Private Lives Amanda Prynne Revival September 15, 1954 – January 29, 1955 Dear Charles Dolores February 15–26, 1956 A Streetcar Named Desire Blanche Du Bois Revival January 30 – February 9, 1957 Eugenia Eugenia, Baroness Munster February 1–18, 1961 Midgie Purvis Midgie Purvis Nominated: Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play January 1 – 1964 The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore Mrs. Goforth Revival Filmography[edit] Film Year Title Role Notes 1918 Who Loved Him Best? Nell Alternative title: His Inspiration 1918 When Men Betray Alice Edwards Uncredited 1918 Thirty a Week Barbara Wright Uncredited 1919 The Trap Helen Carson Alternative title: A Woman's Law 1928 His House in Order Nina Graham Lost film[47] 1931 Tarnished Lady Nancy Courtney 1931 My Sin Carlotta/Ann Trevor 1931 The Cheat Elsa Carlyle 1932 Thunder Below Susan 1932 Make Me a Star Herself 1932 Devil and the Deep Diana Sturm 1932 Faithless Carol Morgan 1933 Hollywood on Parade No. A-6 Herself Short subject 1943 Stage Door Canteen Herself 1944 Lifeboat Constance "Connie" Porter Won: New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress 1945 A Royal Scandal Catherine the Great Alternative title: Czarina 1953 Main Street to Broadway Herself 1959 The Boy Who Wanted a Melephant Narrator Short subject 1965 Fanatic Mrs. Trefoile Alternative title (US): Die! Die! My Darling 1966 The Daydreamer The Sea Witch Voice Television Year Title Role Notes 1952– 1953 All Star Revue Herself 7 episodes 1953 The Buick-Berle Show Herself 2 episodes 1954 The Colgate Comedy Hour Herself Episode #4.19 1954– 1962 The United States Steel Hour Hedda Gabler 2 episodes 1955 The Martha Raye Show Herself 1 episode 1957 Schlitz Playhouse of Stars Episode: "The Hole Card" 1957 General Electric Theater Katherine Belmont Episode: "Eyes of a Stranger" 1957 The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour Herself Episode: "The Celebrity Next Door" 1965 The Red Skelton Show Mme. Fragrant Episode: "A Jerk of All Trades" 1967 Batman Black Widow 2 episodes Radio appearances[edit] Year Program Episode/source 1950 Screen Directors Playhouse Lifeboat[48] In popular culture[edit] Bankhead's large, charismatic personality inspired voice actress Betty Lou Gerson's work on the character Cruella De Vil in Walt Disney Pictures' One Hundred and One Dalmatians, which the studio calls "a manic take-off on famous actress Tallulah Bankhead."[49]

Fictional portrayals[edit] Rock musician/actor Suzi Quatro portrayed Bankhead in a musical named Tallulah Who? in 1991. The musical was based on a book by Willie Rushton. Quatro co-wrote the music with Shirlie Roden. The show ran from February 14 to March 9 at The Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch, UK and received favorable reviews.[50][51]

Valerie Harper starred as Bankhead in Looped, which premiered at The Pasadena Playhouse.[52] It opened on Broadway on March 14, 2010 at the Lyceum Theatre, and closed on April 11, 2010.

Other actresses to portray Bankhead include Eugenia Rawls (in her one-woman stage show Tallulah, A Memory), Kathleen Turner (in Sandra Ryan Heyward's one-woman touring show Tallulah in the late 1990s), Carrie Nye (on television in The Scarlett O'Hara War) and Helen Gallagher in an off-Broadway musical, Tallulah![53]

In the 1969 film Goodbye, Mr. Chips, actress Siân Phillips portrays Ursula Mossbank, a character clearly inspired by the Bankhead mystique and mannerisms, but there is no suggestion in the film that that character is supposed to be Bankhead herself.

Bankhead has also been portrayed by a male actor. Jim Bailey originated the role of Bankhead in the play Tallulah and Tennessee in 1999.[54]

References[edit] Notes[edit] Jump up ^ Obituary Variety, December 18, 1968. ^ Jump up to: a b Schumach, Murray (December 13, 1968). "Tallulah Bankhead Dead at 65; Vibrant Stage and Screen Star" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2010. Jump up ^ "Inductees". Alabama Women's Hall of Fame. State of Alabama. Retrieved February 20, 2012. Jump up ^ The Historical Marker Database ^ Jump up to: a b c (Procter Reeves 2009, pp. 83–84) Jump up ^ (Bankhead 2004, p. 48) Jump up ^ Current Biography 1941, p. 37 Jump up ^ Gottlieb, Robert (May 16, 2005). "Dah-Ling: The Strange Case of Tallulah Bankhead". The New Yorker: 84–85. Jump up ^ (Bankhead 2004, p. 14) Jump up ^ (Hellman 1973, p. 146) Jump up ^ (Bankhead 2004, p. 82) Jump up ^ (Wintle 1978, p. 47) ^ Jump up to: a b (Fadiman 2000, p. 39) Jump up ^ (Bankhead 2004, p. 131) Jump up ^ (Fleming 2005, p. 110) Jump up ^ (Donnelley 2000, p. 51) Jump up ^ (Haskell 2009, p. 63): "According to source: "a memo from Selznick, November 11, 1936: 'Bankhead is first choice among established stars – and many votes coming in for her. She is taking Arden treatments and preparing for Cukor's arrival in NY to test her'" Jump up ^ (Lambert 1976, p. 53) Jump up ^ (Lobenthal 2004, p. 273) ^ Jump up to: a b Alabama Women's Hall of Fame – Tallulah Brockman Bankhead Jump up ^ (Kazan 1997, p. 2001) ^ Jump up to: a b (Jones 2009, p. 39) Jump up ^ (Richardson 1993, p. 147): "Directing her was totally impossible. 'Loud or soft – how do you want it?' she asked me. There wasn't any other choice. Tallulah was simply past it. She couldn't remember, she couldn't perform." Jump up ^ SmothersBrothers.com Jump up ^ Pdxretro.com Jump up ^ Beatlesinterviews.org Jump up ^ Murphy, Robert E. "The Real Villain of New York Baseball", The New York Times, Sunday, June 24, 2007. Jump up ^ (Linge 2005, p. 181) Jump up ^ Volume 18, #1, p. 6 Jump up ^ (Leuchtenburg 2007, p. 213) Jump up ^ (Bankhead 2004, p. 275) Jump up ^ "Tallulah Bankhead and Actor John Emery Wed". Lawrence Journal-World. September 1, 1937. p. 3. Retrieved January 6, 2013. Jump up ^ "Divorce to Be Sought by Tallulah Bankhead". The Milwaukee Journal. May 3, 1941. p. 9. Retrieved January 6, 2013. Jump up ^ "Tallulah Bankhead Wins Divorce". The Spokesman-Review. June 14, 1941. p. 2. Retrieved January 6, 2013. Jump up ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3638269/She-couldnt-say-No.html Jump up ^ Christy, Marian. "EUGENIA RAWLS; A LOOK. REMEMBERED LAUGHTER. THOSE ARE THE GENEROSITIES OF LOVE". The Boston Globe (September 15, 1985). p. 98. Jump up ^ (Mills 2005, pp. 275–276) Jump up ^ (Bankhead 2004, p. 312) Jump up ^ (Lobenthal 2004, p. 224) Jump up ^ (Monush 2003, p. 388) Jump up ^ (Gruen 1978, p. 53) Jump up ^ (Stern 2009, p. 39) Jump up ^ (Lobenthal 2004, p. 533) Jump up ^ "Tallulah Bankhead Dies at 65". Middlesboro Daily News. December 13, 1968. Retrieved January 6, 2013. Jump up ^ "Hollywood Star Walk: Tallulah Bankhead". latimes.com. Retrieved January 6, 2013. ^ Jump up to: a b "MI5 sex secrets of 1920s star". BBC News. March 2, 2000. Retrieved February 4, 2009. Jump up ^ Lobenthal, Joel (2004). Tallulah: the life and times of a leading lady. HarperCollins. p. 130. ISBN 0-06-039435-8. Jump up ^ "Radio's Golden Age". Nostalgia Digest 41 (3): 40–41. Summer 2015. Jump up ^ Disney Archives – Villains History Jump up ^ "The Queen's Theatre listing of Quatro's performance in Tallulah Who? (via Wayback)". www.queens-theatre.co.uk. Hornchurch, UK: The Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch. 2003. Archived from the original on December 16, 2004. Retrieved December 16, 2004. Jump up ^ "Tallulah Who?". www.guidetomusicaltheatre.com. Accrington, UK: The Guide to Musical Theatre. 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2012. Jump up ^ McNulty, Charles (July 10, 2008). "Startling secrets and risque ramblings". latimes.com. Retrieved January 6, 2013. Jump up ^ Belcher, David (February 15, 2010). "Tallulah's Back in Town, Still Famous for Her Infamy". nytimes.com. Retrieved January 6, 2013. Jump up ^ Shirley, Don (October 16, 1999). "Flamboyant 'Tallulah,' Courtesy of Bailey". latimes.com. Retrieved January 6, 2013. Sources[edit] Bankhead, Tallulah (2004). Tallulah: My Autobiography (2nd ed.). Univ. Press of Mississippi. ISBN 1-57806-635-2 Donnelley, Paul (2000). Fade To Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus. ISBN 0-7119-7984-7 Fadiman, Clifton; Bernard, Andre (2000). Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes. Hachette Digital, Inc. ISBN 0-316-08267-8 Fleming, E.J. (2005). The Fixers: Eddie Mannix, Howard Strickling and The MGM Publicity Machine. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-2027-8 Haskell, Molly (2009). Frankly, My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-11752-3 Gruen, John (1978). Menotti: A Biography. Macmillan. ISBN 0-02-546320-9 Hellman, Lillian (1973). Pentimento: A Book of Portraits. New American Library Jones, Randy; Bego, Mark (2009). Macho Man: The Disco Era and Gay America's Coming Out. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 0-275-99962-9 Kanfer, Stefan (2009). Somebody: The Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando. Random House Digital, Inc. ISBN 1-4000-7804-0 Kazan, Elia (1997). Elia Kazan: A Life. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80804-8 Lambert, Gavin (1976). GWTW: The Making of Gone With the Wind. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 5-530-86392-2 Leuchtenburg, William E. (2007). The White House Looks South: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson. LSU Press. ISBN 0-8071-3286-1 Linge, Mary Kay (2009). Willie Mays: A Biography. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-33401-3 Lobenthal, Joel (2004). Tallulah: The Life and Times Of a Leading Lady. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-039435-8 Mills, Eleanor (2005). Journalistas: 100 Years of the Best Writing and Reporting by Women Journalists. Seal Press. ISBN 0-7867-1667-3 Monush, Barry (2003). The Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the Silent Era to 1965, Volume 1. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 1-55783-551-9 Procter Reeves, Jacquelyn (2009). Wicked North Alabama. The History Press. ISBN 1-59629-753-0 Richardson, Tony (1993). Long Distance Runner – A Memoir. London: Faber & Faber. ISBN 0-571-16852-3 Shalit, Gene (2003). Great Hollywood Wit: A Glorious Cavalcade of Hollywood Wisecracks, Zingers, Japes, Quips, Slings, Jests, Snappers, & Sass from the Stars. Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-28273-7 Stern, Keith; McKellen, Ian (2009). Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals. BenBella Books. ISBN 1-935251-83-X Wintle, Justin; Kenin, Richard (1978). The Dictionary of Biographical Quotation of British and American Subjects. Taylor & Francis. Further reading[edit] McLellan, Diana (2001). The Girls: Sappho Goes to Hollywood. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-28320-2. (review) Mackrell, Judith. Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation. 2013. ISBN 978-0-330-52952-5 Oderman, Stuart, Talking to the Piano Player 2. BearManor Media, 2009. ISBN 1-59393-320-7. Israel, Lee (1973). Miss Tallulah Bankhead. Dell Publishing. Not Behind Lace Curtains : The Hidden World of Evan, Viscount Tredegar by William Cross. ISBN 978-1-905914-21-0 ( 2013) Evan Frederic Morgan: Viscount Tredegar The Final Affairs: Financial and Carnal by William Cross. ISBN 978-1-905914-24-1 (2014) Lois Sturt, Wild Child. A Glance at Hon. Lois Ina Sturt, Viscountess Tredegar. by William Cross ISBN 9781905914319. ( 2014) External links[edit] Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tallulah Bankhead. Wikiquote has quotations related to: Tallulah Bankhead Tallulah Bankhead at AllMovie Tallulah Bankhead at the Internet Broadway Database Tallulah Bankhead at the Internet Movie Database Tallulah Bankhead – A Passionate Life – Tribute site Verbal Turpitude, Time Magazine, August 22, 1932 The Religious Affiliation of Tallulah Bankhead Gay Great – Tallulah Bankhead Tallulah the Lonely by Robert Temple Photographs and literature The Demopolis, Alabama history of "The Little Foxes" Tallulah Bankhead article, Encyclopedia of Alabama Jesse Levy collection of Tallulah Bankhead materials, 1930s-1980s, held by the Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts Tallulah Bankhead at Find a Grave [hide] v t e Alabama Women's Hall of Fame [hide] 1971–1979 1971 Hallie Farmer Helen Adams Keller Julia Strudwick Tutwiler 1972 Agnes Ellen Harris Margaret Murray Washington 1973 Edwina Donnelly Mitchell Lurleen Burns Wallace 1974 Henrietta Gibbs Loraine Bedsole Tunstall 1975 Dixie Bibb Graves Marie Bankhead Owen 1976 Ruth Robertson Berrey Annie Lola Price 1977 Amelia Gayle Gorgas Augusta Jane Evans Wilson 1978 Annie Rowan Forney Daugette Patti Ruffner Jacobs 1979 Myrtle Brooke Carrie A. 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Tallulah Bankhead Biography Showing all 79 items Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (31) | Personal Quotes (28) | Salary (10) Overview (5) Date of Birth 31 January 1902, Huntsville, Alabama, USA Date of Death 12 December 1968, Morningside Heights, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA (double pneumonia, influenza and emphysema) Birth Name Tallulah Brockman Bankhead Nickname Tallu Height 5' 2½" (1.59 m) Mini Bio (1) Tallulah Brockman Bankhead was born on January 31, 1902 in Huntsville, Alabama. Her father was a mover and shaker in the Democratic Party who served as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from June 4, 1936, to September 16, 1940. Tallulah had been interested in acting and, at age 15, started her stage career in the local theater troupes of Huntsville and the surrounding areas. At age 16, she won a beauty contest and, bolstered by this achievement, moved to New York City to live with her aunt and to try her hand at Broadway. She was offered a role in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920), but did not take it after she refused John Barrymore's invitation for a visit to the casting couch. Unfortunately, for the young Miss Bankhead, she did not make any headway on the stages of New York, so she pulled up stakes and moved to London, in 1923, to try her luck there.

For the next several years, she was the most popular actress of London's famed West End, the British equivalent of Broadway. After starring in several well-received plays, she gained the attention of Paramount Pictures executives and returned to the United States to try her hand at the film world. Her first two films, Woman's Law (1927) and His House in Order (1928), did not exactly set the world on fire, so she returned to do more stage work. She tried film work again with Tarnished Lady (1931), where she played Nancy Courtney, a woman who marries for money but ultimately gets bored with her husband and leaves him, only to come back to him when he is broke. The critics gave it a mixed reception. Tallulah's personality did not shine on film as Paramount executives had hoped. She tried again with My Sin (1931) as a woman with a secret past about to marry into money. Later that year, she made The Cheat (1931), playing Elsa Carlyle, a woman who sold herself to a wealthy Oriental merchant who brands her like she was his own property and is subsequently murdered. The next year, she shot Thunder Below (1932), Faithless (1932), Make Me a Star (1932) (she had a cameo role along with several other Paramount stars) and Devil and the Deep (1932). The latter film was a star-studded affair that made money at the box-office due to the cast (Gary Cooper, Charles Laughton and newcomer Cary Grant). The films she was making just did not do her talent any justice, so it was back to Broadway--she did not make another film for 11 years. She toured nationally, performing in all but three states.

She was also a big hit at social affairs, where she often shocked the staid members of that society with her "untraditional" behavior. She chain-smoked and enjoyed more than her share of Kentucky bourbon, and made it a "habit" to take her clothes off and chat in the nude. A friend and fellow actress remarked on one occasion, "Tallulah dear, why are you always taking your clothes off? You have such lovely frocks." She was also famous--or infamous--for throwing wild parties that would last for days. She returned to films in 1943 with a cameo in Stage Door Canteen (1943), but it was Lifeboat (1944) for director Alfred Hitchcock that put her back into the limelight. However, the limelight did not shine for long. After shooting A Royal Scandal (1945) she did not appear on film again until she landed a role in Fanatic (1965). Her film and small-screen work consisted of a few TV spots and the voice of the Sea Witch in the animated film The Daydreamer (1966), so she went back to the stage, which had always been first and foremost in her heart. To Tallulah, there was nothing like a live audience to perform for, because they, always, showed a lot of gratitude. On December 12, 1968, Tallulah Bankhead died at age 66 of pneumonia in her beloved New York City. While she made most of her fame on the stages of the world, the film industry and its history became richer because of her talent and her very colorful personality. Today her phrase, "Hello, Dahling" is known throughout the entertainment world. - IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson

Spouse (1) John Emery (1937 - 1941) (divorced) Trade Mark (3) Husky resonant voice Calls everyone dahling Flamboyant personality Trivia (31) Screen, stage, radio and television actress. President Harry S. Truman once claimed that her 1952 autobiography was the best book he had read since coming to the White House. Once owned a pet lion named Winston. She was the first white woman to appear on the cover of Ebony magazine. She was a member of the Algonquin roundtable. Sent to Catholic convent schools by her father in the hopes (unrealized) that she would learn to stay out of trouble. The screen credit for her role as the Black Widow on the television series Batman (1966) read "Miss Tallulah Bankhead". She narrowly missed out getting the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939), which went to Vivien Leigh. In 1949, Procter and Gamble launched a radio advertising campaign for its Prell shampoo, using a jingle and the character "Tallulah the Tube". Miss Bankhead was so closely identified by her first name that she sued, eventually settling out of court. At a press conference once, she said, "I'm so glad to see there's a man here from the New York Times, because if I say 'goddammit', they will print it 'good heavens' or 'good gracious.'". She was said to be the inspiration for the character of Cruella De Vil in Walt Disney's One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961). She was infamous for not wearing underwear. According to Hume Cronyn, during the filming of Lifeboat (1944) the crew complained about her flashing them when she had to climb a ladder to go into the mock-up of a lifeboat. When their objections to Bankhead's exhibitionism reached director Alfred Hitchcock, he reportedly quipped that he did not know if it was a matter for wardrobe or hairdressing. Originated the female lead in Clifford Odets' "Clash by Night" on Broadway. The role was taken by Barbara Stanwyck in the movie Clash by Night (1952). A bisexual, she had a one-time affair with actress Hattie McDaniel, according to chronicler of the Hollywood underground Kenneth Anger, and a longer-term arrangement with singer Billie Holiday, according to Joe Lobenthal's "Tallulah! The Life and Times of a Leading Lady". An incident in her life was the inspiration for movie Ha-Kol Odot Hava (1950). It is ironic that Bette Davis played the Bankhead character, as Davis played in films two great roles originated by Bankhead on Broadway: Judith Traherne in "Dark Victory" and Regina in Lillian Hellman's "The Little Foxes". It's even more ironic that both Davis and Bankhead despised each other. Marlon Brando, who co-starred with her in the play "The Eagle Has Two Heads" in the mid-1940s, said that Bankhead was primarily a personality actor--that is, someone who did not have developed acting skills but got by on the basis of their personality. Brando believed that she could have been a great actress and a major movie star if she had not been addicted to sex and alcohol. Was nominated for Broadway's 1961 Tony Award as Best Actress (Dramatic) for "Midgie Purvis". Loved jazz music and was a mainstay at many popular jazz clubs in New York and Los Angeles. Her role as the Black Widow on the television series Batman (1966) is the last on-screen appearance she made. Her last coherent words were "Codeine... bourbon". She smoked 150 cigarettes a day. Was considered for the role of Margo Channing in Ha-Kol Odot Hava (1950) after Claudette Colbert dropped out due to a back injury before filming began. However, Bette Davis, who went on to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance, was cast instead. Profiled in the book "Funny Ladies" by Stephen Silverman (1999). Her father was Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1936 to 1940. Was an avid baseball fan, especially of the New York Giants and Willie Mays. She was close friends with Zelda Fitzgerald and Estelle Winwood. Once told an interviewer that the reason she addressed everyone she saw as "Dahling" was because she was bad at remembering names. Irving Rapper said the actress's screen test for Amanda Wingfield in "The Glass Menageroe" was the greatest performance he had ever seen in his life. Her drinking caused the role to be given given to Gertrude Lawrence, whose acting was panned by most critics. Was referenced in the 1958 song "Give Him the Ooh-La-La" by Blossom Dearie. Her mother died of complications of childbirth shortly after she was born. According to actress Hedy Lamarr, who met Tallulah, when the latter was doing stage in Vienna, in an interview, shortly before her own death, until the day she died, Tallulah had blamed herself for her mother's death. Evan Tallulah's father could not convince her otherwise. Father: William B. Bankhead; Mother: Adeline E. Sledge. Personal Quotes (28) [when asked by gossip columnist Earl Wilson if she had ever been mistaken for a man on the telephone] No, have you? I was there in the south of France when Zelda [Fitzgerald], poor darling, went off her head. She had gone into a flower shop and suddenly for her all the flowers had faces. Of course, some flowers, such as pansies, DO have faces. [on seeing a former lover for the first time in years] I thought I told you to wait in the car. I read Shakespeare and the Bible, and I can shoot dice. That's what I call a liberal education. The only man in theater who can count on steady work is the night watchman. The only thing I regret about my past is the length of it. If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner. Acting is a form of confusion. [on why she called everyone "dahling"] Because all my life, I've been terrible at remembering people's names. I once introduced a friend of mine as Martini. Her name was actually Olive. If you want to help the American theater, don't be an actress, dahling -- be an audience. It's the good girls who keep diaries; the bad girls never have the time. I'm as pure as the driven slush. I have three phobias which, could I mute them, would make my life as slick as a sonnet, but as dull as ditch water - I hate to go to bed, I hate to get up, and I hate to be alone. My father warned me about men and booze, but he never mentioned a word about women and cocaine. Cocaine isn't habit-forming. I should know - I've been using it for years. Nobody can be exactly like me. Even I have trouble doing it. No man worth his salt, no man of spirit and spine, no man for whom I could have any respect, could rejoice in the identification of Tallulah's husband. It's tough enough to be bogged down in a legend. It would be even tougher to marry one. Don't think I don't know who's been spreading gossip about me. After all the nice things I've said about that hag [Bette Davis]. When I get hold of her, I'll tear out every hair of her mustache! Say anything about me, dahling, as long as it isn't boring. I've tried several varieties of sex, all of which I hate. The conventional position makes me claustrophobic; the others give me a stiff neck and/or lockjaw. On strategy: I'm the foe of moderation, the champion of excess. If I may lift a line from a die-hard whose identity is lost in the shuffle, I'd rather be strongly wrong than weakly right. [when a young actress told her that she drank cranberry juice every morning] Oh, my God, cranberry juice? When I was 16, dahling, I had a shoebox full of cocaine. [when researcher Alfred Kinsey asked her for details about her sex life]: Of course, darling, if you'll tell me yours. [To 27 year old bride-to-be Helen Hayes, who was getting married to Charles MacArthur, who asked her what she could do to avoid getting pregnant]: Just what you've always been doing, darling. [on being told there was no toilet paper available] Well, do you have two fives for a ten? There have been only two geniuses in the world, Willie Mays and Willie Shakespeare. But, darling, I think you'd better put Shakespeare first. Do you want to know why the Giants are going to win the pennant? Well, darlings, I can tell you in two words: Willie Mays. I've played "Private Lives" everywhere except underwater. They used to photograph Shirley Temple through gauze. They should photograph me through linoleum. Salary (10) His House in Order (1928) £500 /week Tarnished Lady (1931) $50,000 My Sin (1931) $5,000 /week The Cheat (1931) $5,000 /week Thunder Below (1932) $6,000 /week Faithless (1932) $100,000 Lifeboat (1944) $75,000 A Royal Scandal (1945) $125,000 Fanatic (1965) $50,000 Batman (1966) $20,000

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Tallaluah Bankhead's Timeline

1902
January 31, 1902
Huntsville, AL, USA
1968
December 12, 1968
Age 66
New York, NY, USA