Tallulah Bankhead

Tallulah Bankhead

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 hadn't been addicted to sex and alcohol.

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 All About Eve (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.

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.' ".

Her father was Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1936 to 1940.

Her last coherent words were "Codeine... bourbon".

Her role as the black widow on the "Batman" (1966) television series is the last on-screen appearance she made.

In 1949, Proctor 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.

Is portrayed by Carrie Nye in The Scarlett O'Hara War (1980) (TV)

Loved jazz music and was a mainstay at many popular jazz clubs in New York and LA.

Member of the Algonquin roundtable.

Once owned a pet lion named Winston.

Originated the female lead in Clifford Odets' "Clash by Night" on Broadway. The part was taken by Barbara Stanwyck in the 1952 movie.

President Harry S. Truman once claimed that her 1952 autobiography was the best book he had read since coming to the White House.

Profiled in book "Funny Ladies" by Stephen Silverman. [1999]

Screen, stage, radio, and television actress.

Sent to Catholic convent schools by her father in the hopes (unrealized) that she would learn to stay out of trouble.

She narrowly missed out getting the part of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939).

She smoked 150 cigarettes a day.

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 didn't know if it was a matter for wardrobe or hairdressing.