Tallulah Bankhead

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Tallulah Bankhead
Bankhead in 1941
Tallulah Brockman Bankhead

(1902-01-31)January 31, 1902
DiedDecember 12, 1968(1968-12-12) (aged 66)
Cause of deathPneumonia
Resting placeSaint Paul's Churchyard, Kent, Maryland
Years active1918–1968
John Emery
(m. 1937; div. 1941)
ParentWilliam B. Bankhead
RelativesJohn Hollis Bankhead
(paternal grandfather)
John Hollis Bankhead II
(paternal uncle)
Tallulah with her father, Speaker of the House William B. Bankhead, in his office in Washington, D.C. (1937)

Tallulah Brockman Bankhead (January 31, 1902 – December 12, 1968) was an American actress.[1][2]

Always known as just "Tallula", she was one of the most famous actresses of her time. She was born into a wealthy and influential Alabama family. Her father was a leading 'Southern Democrat', and in the 1930s became Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. She was a childhood friend of Zelda Fitzgerald, the wife of novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Tallula was an actress from the beginning to the end of her life. She acted in nearly 300 film, stage, television, and radio roles.[3] Her personal life was wild. She struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction. She was infamous for her sex life, which included both men and women.

Tallulah was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1972,[4] and the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame in 1981.[5]

In her 1932 movie Devil and the Deep there were three major co-stars, with Tallulah getting top billing over Gary Cooper, Charles Laughton, and Cary Grant. David O. Selznick, producer of Gone with the Wind (1939) called her the "first choice among established stars" to play Scarlett O'Hara.[6] According to a memo from Selznick, November 11, 1936: Bankhead is first choice among established stars – and many votes coming in for her. Although her screen test for the role in black-and-white was superb, she photographed poorly in Technicolor. Selznick also thought that at age 36, she was too old to play Scarlett, who is 16 at the beginning of the film. The role eventually went to Vivien Leigh.[7]

Also notable was her performance in the Alfred Hitchcock film Lifeboat (1943–1944). It was her best on film and won her the New York Film Critics Circle award.

Onstage, Tallula appeared in a revival of Noël Coward's Private Lives, taking it on tour and then to Broadway for the better part of two years. The play's run made her a fortune. On her death, she was worth $2 million, a vast sum in those days.

Year Award Nominated work Result
1928 Ten Most Remarkable Women In London Won
1939 Variety Award for Best Actress of the Year The Little Foxes Won
1942 New York Drama Critics Award for Best Actress in a Production The Skin of Our Teeth Won
1942 Variety Award for Best Actress of the Year The Skin of Our Teeth Won
1944 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress Lifeboat Won
1950 Radio's Woman of the Year The Big Show Won
1960 Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6141 Hollywood Blvd Motion pictures Inducted
1961 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play Midgie Purvis Nominated
1972 American Theater Hall of Fame Lifetime achievement Won

References[change | change source]

  1. Obituary Variety, December 18, 1968.
  2. Schumach, Murray (December 13, 1969). "Tallulah Bankhead Dead at 65; Vibrant Stage and Screen Star" (PDF). The New York Times. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 6, 2011. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
  3. Carrier, Jeffrey L. (January 1, 1991). Tallulah Bankhead: A Bio-bibliography. Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313274527. Retrieved August 11, 2016 – via Google Books.
  4. "The Milwaukee Journal – Google News Archive Search". google.com. Archived from the original on May 3, 2016. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  5. "Inductees". Alabama Women's Hall of Fame. State of Alabama. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
  6. Haskell, Molly 2009. Frankly, My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-11752-3
  7. Lambert, Gavin 1976. GWTW: The Making of Gone With the Wind. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 5-530-86392-2