[Background image: Tallulah Bankhead, age 15, photograph by Arnold Genthe; Library of Congress collection.]


Her wit ...

Her persona ...

Her Movie Bombshells...

"'Tarnished Lady,' 'The Cheat,' 'My Sin,' 'The Devil & the Deep,' etc.

[With titles] like the names of cheap perfumes... leaving behind a bad smell."

TIME magazine, Nov.'48

Criticized for showing 'acres of flesh'

I WHAT...?! Well, darling, did you think I smell like this all the time?Her Broadway Bombs ...

Re: "Antony & Cleopatra," New York critics had a field day:

"A serpent of the Suwanee, the Queen of the Nil,

not more dangerous than a garter snake!"

She slid down a banister to make her entrance ...

In Jean Cocteau's "The Eagle has Two Heads"

("The TURKEY has two-heads!"),

she had the longest recorded monologue/death scene,

culminating in a headlong plunge down a staircase,

opposite a very young Marlon Brando,

who kept distracting her with his

"Method Acting" mannerisms,

i.e., "pickin' his nose and scratchin' his ass!"

He was quickly replaced.

You think I'm wild! Got to meet my sistah!

She spun cartwheels/hand springs at the drop of a hat

(sometimes forgetting to wear underwear).

Tennessee Williams wrote the part of

Blanche DuBois with Tallulah in mind;

at the age of 54,

Tallulah hoped to jump start her sagging career

by making a successful come-back in this role,

but the opening night audience did not take her seriously,

insisting instead that Tallulah camp it up!

Despite such dialogue as

"The sisters (the Pleides) are OUT tonight!"... she did not.

[Cruelly,] "Everyone who attended that production was instantly struck gay,

including the usherettes, the candy sellers, the stage crew, and

- on Tallulah's good nights -

even those who were passing outside the theater."

Ethan Mordden, (author of "Buddies")

I don't care WHAT they say, as long as they talk about ME!

The Brits coined a word for it:
[see "The Photography of Dorothy Wilding" (British, V&A Museum),
in which Tallulah is depicted at her most radiant,
during her glorious Mayfair days!]

Oh, #@$% !

"She smoked 120 gaspers a day, swore like a fisherman,

drank like a fish, and was promiscuous with men, women

and Etonians. To these vices she added the sin for which

there can be no redemption. She allowed - nay, arranged -

for all these activities to be known. Theatergoers

went to see her on stage chiefly to marvel that such

a debauchee could still speak and still stand!

This woman did not fly to extremes; she lived there." --Quentin Crisp.

Her Much Celebrated Beauty... I'm as PURE as the driven ... slush!

Brought her fame and fortune

[though it also helped to have a daddy

who was the Speaker of the House

and a grand papa and an uncle

who were Senators from Alabama.]

Tallulah Bankhead in Reflected Glory

Tallulah made enemies in Hollywood;

she told Louis B. Mayer where to go.

As a consequence,

Bette Davis brought many

of Lullah's roles on Broadway

to the silver screen: "Dark Victory,"

"Reflected Glory," "The Little Foxes," etc.

("THAT movie, ALL ABOUT ME!")

Her fun-loving, capricious

and carousing ways,

her accessibility to her fans,

endeared her to them.

Her portrait by Augustus John

now hangs in

The National Portrait Gallery,

Washington, D.C.

Her Successes ...

(Re: "The Little Foxes,"): "... we played it everywhere, except underwater!"

"(Re: Hitchcock's - Lifeboat) We played THAT underwater!"

(Re: "The Skin of Our Teeth") - "No one, but NO ONE,

NOT EVEN the author, director, or the other actors,

including myself, had even an inkling of

WHAT it was all about!"

I've had your husband; you're next!

In Noel Coward's "Private Lives," the role of Amanda fit her like a glove.

But, then, why not; afterall, she was playing herself.

After Her Scandalous Trial in the 50's

(everyone including Lullahs seemed to overlook that the MAID was on trial),

Tallulah wrote her autobiography to put everything to right

(adding more fuel to the already blazing controversies).

The Locals still tellTALLulah tales

about "Her Caddies" at "Windows,"

the Country Estate at Bedford Village, NY.

As her godchild, Ms. Brook Ashley, recalls:

"I rescued the maltese, 'Doloras,' (Tallulah's spelling) from the pool

and had 'Gaylord' (the parakeet) nest in my hair.

Thoughts of Home: Tallulah’s House, By Brook Ashley

"I played happily at Windows (in spite of the frequent conflagrations).

Auntie Mame was an amateur at childrearing.

Tallulah showed me how to kill Joe McCarthy with voodoo pins!!"

And, I haven't the heart

to chronicle her accident-prone

later years ...

["MY GawD!, I've set Doloras ON FIRE!!"]

Bette WHO??



We miss you!