I recently finished reading a biog of the life of Tallulah Bankhead. Very interesting read. Such a liberated lady, hehe! Very much a democrat too. She could be absolutely incandescent on the stage, apparently; but there certainly were various 'turkeys' in her career as well. Any older threadsters actually see her on stage? If so, what were your impressions? It seems to be acknowledged that her greatness on the stage did not translate well for the silver screen, with perhaps Hitchcock's Lifeboat as the exception. Comments, Dahhhhlings...? :-))
She's was a total,complete, absolute drunken cunt.
Lucy and Desi
Like Ethel Merman and Carol Channing, she never learned how to dial it down a notch for the silver screen.
It's not as if she was liberated when sober. The booze provided the platform for her views.
How about giving us the title of the biography?
The book is "Tallulah! The Life and Times of a Leading Lady" by Joel Lobenthal.
So... anyone who did witness one of her stage performances?
Her performance in "Lifeboat" is a perfect blend of absolute stillness and focus paired with Tallulah unleashed.
I love the story where one of her weekend guests is woken by the butler with a large vodka. Tallu sweeps by and says "better drink it dahling, there won't be any more served until after breakfast".
Or to the bishop at a church service: "lovely outfit dahling but your handbag is on fire" - meaning the item containing the burning insence.
"Do you have two fives for a ten?"
She wasn't a true actress. She was a personality actress.
Thanks r5/OP, sounds good, I will check it out.
When they were fitting Tallu into her skintight Black Widow costume on Batman, she exclaimed "well, there goes one ball!"
When asked if Monty Clift was gay, she said " well I don't know Darling. He's never sucked MY cock!"
When they put a costume over her head and it got stuck, she said "that reminded me of being in the back of a taxi with those two nuns,"
Tallulah was a Democrat at a time when every white voter in the South was a Democrat, including sheet-wearing Klan members.
Southerners didn't abandon the Democratic Party until after the big Civil Rights victories of the mid-60s under LBJ.
"When I was 12, I was raped in our driveway. It was terrible—all that gravel ..."
"My father was always warning me about men and alcohol. He never said a thing about women and cocaine."
Earl Wilson: "Miss Bankhead, have you ever been mistaken for a man on the phone?"
Tallu: "Why, no, dahling, have you?"
One Christmas Eve, she was in St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC, and when she went up to kneel at the front railing for communion, she looked up and saw the most grotesque crucifix staring down at her -- a tortured, bleeding, suffering Christ.
So she said, "Smile, Dahling -- it's your BIRTHday!"
Any more Tallulah? Please keep them coming. Very funny.
Ted Hook, Bankheads live-in assistant came home one night and found that Tallulah, who smoked in bed, had flicked a live ash onto the pillow Delores, her dog slept on.
After several failed attempts to awaken her from her slumber, he finally got a response when he urgently screamed "Miss Bankhead, Delores is on FIRE!"
"Well for Christ sake, PUT HER OUT!" Bankhead bellowed and then promptly went back to sleep.
Tallulah was interviewed by a woman from one of those "ladies' magazines," and the uptight, haughty woman clearly disapproved of Tallulah and her lifestyle and didn't keep it from her either. After the interview, Tallulah walked the woman to the elevator which was full of people and just as the doors were closing Tallulah said to her "dahling, you were the nicest lesbian I've ever met!"
r12, now you know you fucked up for trying to saying Tallulah was like every racist southerner.
She was in a Batman two-parter. I believe she'd had a stroke.
Did she go out with any famous women?
I think she screwed Greta Garbo and Billie Holiday.
Didn't they say she slept with Hatti McDaniel? I also heard Garbo, Holiday, and I think Crawford.
• I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock. If I'm late start without me.
• I've tried several varieties of sex. The conventional position makes me claustrophobic and the others give me a stiff neck or lockjaw.
• Cocaine isn't habit-forming. I should know -- I've been using it for years
Ester Williams said Tallulah went up to Ester and Rock Hudson and Tallulah said, who shall I pick to have sex with? Ester Williams laughed out loud when Tallulah said that.
I think Tallulah's father was a politician in the south.
I think she died broke because she was not good managing her money at all.
Tallulah had a threesome with Billie Holiday and male black club performer. I don't remember who the male was.
Her estate was worth 2 million. A reporter said to her that she was in a lot of junk to which she replied Yes, but I got paid for it.
OP, Tab Hunter in his autobiography devotes an entire chapter on working with Ms. Bankhead in Tennessee Williams' "The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore." The title of the chapter: "Train Wreck."
Apparently, at this point in her life (62 yrs), Tallu was more gay icon than actress. During rehearsals she was unprofessional, disruptive, prima donna-ish, and a major pain in the ass. Hunter grew increasingly agitated with her antics and blew up at her. When the play finally opened on Broadway, he quickly realized what Tallu had known all along -- it didn't matter what the play was about, or what the other actors had to say, Tallulah's gay fans came to see their goddess do her schtick. So she camped it up, turning innocent phrases into double entendres, arching her brow, and throwing them knowing glances. She turned Williams' drama into a one-woman play, and the audiences loved it. The critics, however, didn't. The show closed after five performances.
When Tallulah met Joan Crawford, they were introduced by Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.--who was married to Joan at the time. Tallulah reportedly took Crawfard by the hand and said "Delighted to meet you dahling. I've already had him...I believe you're next!".
Bankhead also had a long-term relationship with actress Patsy Kelly, and she "knocked boots" with Louise Brooks.
Bankhead had most of the gay/bi actresses in Hollywood during her prime
Her's a nice article by someone who knew her, OP...
Tallulah's father was Senator Bankhead from Alabama.
Tallulah once allowed Vincent Price to give her sleeping husband a blow job while she stood and watched.
When her husband, the well endowed actor John Emery, began to wake, Tallulah shouted, "Let him finish, dahling, I almost got lockjaw sucking you last night".
I just remembered I have her 1948 film A ROYAL SCANDAL filed away - must rescue it and wallow, she plays Catherine the Great and its by Otto Preminger, produced by Lubitsch, and has Anne Baxter supporting. Must be a wow ....
When I was a very young man in the sixties in New York I was in a gay bar in Greenwich Village called CARR's that was temporarily the "in" place for the hip crowd; a quiet cozy place. One night Tallulah Bankhead came in with two "escorts", obviously gay men acting as bodyguards. They were well dressed up and apparently out slumming and Tallulah spotted me sitting alone at the bar--in a dark blue suit--and waved me over to her table. I was an attractive young man at the time and this upset her escorts greatly, as I was more attractive then they. She pulled out a chair at the table and patted the seat to invite me to sit beside her. Granted I was 19 and starstruck to meet this legend; being gay I knew even at that age who she was although she was well past her prime. I was overwhelmed--speechless--at her interest in me as she rattled on as if we were old friends. I sat no more then six inches from her for about 10 minutes conversing and she was immaculately dressed, very elegant and expensively dressed, hair and makeup perfection. In the soft light of the bar you could tell she was old, but even up that close there was something quite beautiful about her face. The camera never caught it, she was not photogenic, but in person even at that age you could see instantly what all the shouting was about "in person" on stage. The personality was pure Tallulah, pitch perfect to what you ever heard or saw of her on the screen or radio or TV. I remember saying something about THE LITTLE FOXES and she was amazed someone my age even knew about it. She did most of the talking as well she should; a monologue--witty and intelligent--on her upbringing in Alabama, her father etc. Yes, looking back I suppose she was roaring drunk at the time, but also perfectly in control of her situation; delightful really. It was obvious this woman was use to--demanded to be--the center of attention. While she seemed enthralled with me (why?) because she was probably bored, I was getting glaring eyes from her escorts to go away and not encourage her. She wanted me to stay and go bar-hopping with them but her "guards" made it clear I was to leave. I politely stooexcused myself and I always remember her farewell. "God Dahling, but it's hot in here!" (it was summer before bars were air-conditioned) she exclaimed, and in a swift slight-of-hand hiked up the side of her as she sat next to me, and snapped the elastic of her black lace panties at me, with an audable "snap" and then lowered her skirt in a gesture so fleeting and deft--theatrical one might say--one could hardly believe it had happened. I stood, bid a polite goodnight and she graciously shook my hand and the trio left the bar.
At about this same period in my life I knew a fellow who had tickets to what I believe was Bankhead's last Broadway appearance. It was New Years day in the sixties, and the show was a production of Tennessee Williams' "The Milktrain Doesn't Stop Here". It only ran for one or two performances and got shredded by the critics, and my friend said you must come because it's the last performance. I don't know what the other performances were like, but this being the final one and in view of the dreadful reviews, the production became travesty and a full-blown homage to Tallulah. The theatre was packed with gay men applauding her EVERY move and gesture. She was ad-libbing most of what I saw because she brought the house down with every line, and this couldn't possibly be the words Tennessee Williams wrote, although there was a thread or remnant of a Williams plot you could still discern. I can't remember anything other then how beautiful she looked on stage--at fifty feet. She had a death scene in something like a swan bed that beggers description in hilarity and unrepentent glamour. I would have to say everything written about her was true. She lived up to her reputation. BUT . . . there was something more that you felt in her presence, that made you toss out your better judgement and just worship at her shrine. There was intelligence there.
She's buried at the edge of the Chesapeake Bay in a beautiful cemetery in Eastern Maryland.
Wow, r34. Great stories. Thank you.
[quote]She's buried at the edge of the Chesapeake Bay in a beautiful cemetery in Eastern Maryland.
If by "the edge" you mean "five miles away."
[quote]Tallulah's father was Senator Bankhead from Alabama.
No, her father was Congressman William Bankhead of Alabama who became Speaker of the US House of Representatives. Her grandfather and her uncle were Senators.