To learn more about Tallulah Bankhead’s career, click on any of the photographs or the links under the quotes - each one links to a website or biography.
(On seeing a former lover for the first time in years)
“I thought I told you to wait in the car.”- Tallulah Bankhead
This charismatic, “whiskey-voiced” woman had such a distinctive, forceful personality that, almost 40 years after her death, her personality is still what she is best remembered for. Her family (Her father was the Speaker of the House, William Brockman Bankhead.) tried to raise her to be more restrained by sending her to various private schools - including a convent school - but the effort failed. At 15 she convinced her family to let her move to New York to pursue acting. She became an actress on screen and on stage (where she garnered greater critical acclaim than in her films, with the notable exception of her work in Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat). While she found fame as an actress, she was just as well known for being bold, promiscuous and having a sharp wit. Always partying, she used drugs but wasn’t known to drink very much alcohol until later in life. She was also openly bisexual, quipping that, “My father warned me about men and booze... but he never said anything about women and cocaine.”
“If I had my life to live again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner.”- Tallulah Bankhead
I’m not saying I endorse her lifestyle. Heaven knows it got her into enough trouble - in 1933 she almost died during an emergency hysterectomy for an advanced case of gonorrhea - but the experience showed no sign of slowing her down. Her behavior, which has been referred to as self-destructive, nonetheless appears to have been rooted in her powerful ego and a voracious lust for life.
While it wouldn’t be healthy to model one’s self after Tallulah Bankhead, the lingering fascination with her makes perfect sense. She was beautiful. She was witty and very outspoken. She didn’t ask permission. She didn’t care what anyone thought of her. She may have been something of a hedonist, but she lived life fully. Most people could benefit from just a little bit of her wild spirit.