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Tallulah Bankhead

Tallulah Bankhead

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Also Known As: Died: December 12, 1968
Born: January 31, 1902 Cause of Death: pneumonia
Birth Place: Huntsville, Alabama, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Though primarily a talented stage actress, Tallulah Bankhead appeared in a number of features despite her distaste for Hollywood. In the 1920s and 1930s, Bankhead dazzled theater audiences in London and New York, though she ultimately became more famous for her tempestuous personality and endless string of love affairs than for her stage performances. In fact, it was the idea of Tallulah Bankhead - with her uninhibited nature, hard-drinking lifestyle and sultry come-hither voice calling everyone "Daaahling" - that became her claim to fame. She made her film debut with "Tarnished Lady" (1931), directed by George Cukor, and proceeded to make a handful of unsuccessful pictures like "The Cheat" (1931) and "Faithless" (1932) before turning back to the bright lights of Broadway. Bankhead was both acclaimed in "The Little Foxes" (1939) and "The Skin of Our Teeth" (1942) - both of which catered to her flamboyant nature - and ridiculed, as she was for "Antony and Cleopatra" (1937). Lured back to Hollywood by none other than Alfred Hitchcock, she delivered her strongest big screen performance in "Lifeboat" (1944), but fell under the weight of Otto Preminger's heavy-handed "A Royal Scandal" (1945). Following...

Though primarily a talented stage actress, Tallulah Bankhead appeared in a number of features despite her distaste for Hollywood. In the 1920s and 1930s, Bankhead dazzled theater audiences in London and New York, though she ultimately became more famous for her tempestuous personality and endless string of love affairs than for her stage performances. In fact, it was the idea of Tallulah Bankhead - with her uninhibited nature, hard-drinking lifestyle and sultry come-hither voice calling everyone "Daaahling" - that became her claim to fame. She made her film debut with "Tarnished Lady" (1931), directed by George Cukor, and proceeded to make a handful of unsuccessful pictures like "The Cheat" (1931) and "Faithless" (1932) before turning back to the bright lights of Broadway. Bankhead was both acclaimed in "The Little Foxes" (1939) and "The Skin of Our Teeth" (1942) - both of which catered to her flamboyant nature - and ridiculed, as she was for "Antony and Cleopatra" (1937). Lured back to Hollywood by none other than Alfred Hitchcock, she delivered her strongest big screen performance in "Lifeboat" (1944), but fell under the weight of Otto Preminger's heavy-handed "A Royal Scandal" (1945). Following stints on anthology television and the success of her autobiography, Bankhead's star faded amidst a haze of alcohol and pills, as evidenced by her ragged appearance in "Die! Die! My Darling" (1965). Still, while other stage actresses fell into obscurity after their deaths, Bankhead remained a source of constant fascination that stood as a testament to both her talents and her over-the-top persona.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 The Daydreamer (1966) The sea witch
2.
 Die! Die! My Darling! (1965) Mrs. Trefoile
3.
 Main Street to Broadway (1953) Herself
4.
 A Royal Scandal (1945) Catherine the Great, the czarina
5.
 Lifeboat (1944) Constance Porter
6.
7.
 Thunder Below (1932) Susan
8.
 Devil and the Deep (1932) Diana Sturm
9.
 Faithless (1932) Carol Morgan
10.
 Make Me a Star (1932)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1917:
Won a film-magazine contest at age 15; prize was a trip to NYC where she made her stage acting debut in "Squab Farm"
1918:
Screen debut in "When Men Betray"
1919:
First major stage performance in "Footloose" (date approximate)
1923:
Moved to London where starred as lead in 15 West End stage productions
1928:
Appeared in two British films: "His House in Order" and "A Woman's Law"
1931:
Signed to Paramount contract and returned to US; first film under contract, "Tarnished Lady"
1932:
Made cameo appearance in "Make Me a Star"
1932:
Last film roles for a decade in "The Devil and the Deep" and "Thunder Below"
1943:
Made a cameo appearance in the all-star WWII fundraising film, "Stage Door Canteen"
1943:
Returned to a leading role in films with her part in Alfred Hitchcock's "Lifeboat"
:
Toured in a revival of the Noel Coward comedy, "Private Lives"
:
Appeared on live TV in the early 1950s on such anthology dramas as "The All-Star Revue" and "The United States Steel Hour"
1952:
Published autobiography
1953:
Acted in "Main Street to Broadway" after an eight-year absence from the screen
1965:
Last acting lead in a feature film, "Die! Die! My Darling!/Fanatic"
1965:
Supplied a voice to the animated fantasy film "The Daydreamer"
1966:
Was a "special guest villainess" on the campy TV cult classic, "Batman"; portrayed the Black Widow (date approximate)
1980:
Was portrayed by Carrie Nye in the TV-movie "The Scarlett O'Hara War" about the search for an actress to play the leading role in the 1939 film version of "Gone With the Wind"
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Education

Fairmont School for Girls: Washington , Washington D.C. -
Mary Baldwin School: Staunton , Virginia -
Convent of the Holy Cross: Washington , Washington D.C. -

Notes

Some sources list Ms. Bankhead's date of birth as 1903.

"I have seen Tallulah electrify the most idiotic, puerile plays into some sort of realistic coherence by her individual force." --novelist Arnold Bennett

"Tallulah is the strongest of all the hurt people I've ever known in my life" --Tennessee Williams

"Cocaine isn't habit-forming. I should know--I've been using it for years" --Attributed to Bankhead, quoted in "Halliwell's Filmgoer's Companion"

When asked "Are you Tallulah Bankhead?" Bankhead is reputed to have answered "What's left of her." (Quoted in Halliwell)

"If I had to live my life over again, I would make the same mistakes--only sooner." --quote attributed to Bankhead

Named for paternal grandmother, who in turn was named after Tallulah Falls, Georgia.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Anthony De Bosdari. An Italian count; engaged in 1929.
husband:
John Emery. Actor. Married on August 31, 1937; divorced on June 13, 1941.

Family close complete family listing

grandmother:
Tallulah Bankhead. Paternal grandmother.
grandfather:
Jack Bankhead. Politician. Served as a US Senator; paternal grandfather.
father:
William Brockman Bankhead. Politician. Served as speaker of the US House of Representatives.
mother:
Adelaide Eugenia Bankhead. Died from blood poisoning after giving birth to Tallulah in 1903.
sister:
Eugenia Bankhead. Survived her.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Tallulah, My Autobiography" Harper & Brothers
"Tallulah: Darling of the Gods"
"Tallulah: A Memory" University of Alabama Press
"Miss Tallulah Bankhead"
"Tallulah"
"Tallulah Bankhead: A Bio-Bibliography" Greenwood Press
"Tallulah Bankhead" Stewart, Tabori & Chang
"Tallulah Bankhead: A Scandalous Life" Robson Books
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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