Tallulah Bankhead – Jazz Age Bonne Vivante

Tallulah Bankhead (1902 – 1968) was born in Huntsville, Alabama. Her father was a member of the Democratic Party and served as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1936-1940.

Tallulah started her stage career in the local theater at age 15. At age 16, she won a beauty contest and moved to New York City to try her hand at Broadway. She did not make any headway on the stages of New York, so she pulled up stakes and moved to London in 1923.

For the next several years, she was the most popular actress of London’s famed West End. After starring in several well-received plays, she gained the attention of Paramount Pictures executives and returned to the United States to try her hand at the film world.

Hollywood success eluded her in her first four films of the 1930s so she went back to Broadway were she was succesfull. Later, in 1944, Alfred Hitchcock cast her as cynical journalist Constance Porter in her most successful film Lifeboat. Her performance won her the New York Film Critics Circle Award. A beaming Bankhead accepted her New York trophy and exclaimed, “Dahlings, I was wonderful!”.

Bankhead was also known for her deep voice, flamboyant personality and support of liberal causes. She circulated widely in the celebrity crowd of her day and was a party favorite for outlandish stunts, such as doing cartwheels in a skirt while wearing no underwear or entering a soirée stark naked.

Tallulah Bankhead died at age 66 of pneumonia in her beloved New York City.

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Tallulah Bankhead, 1920s

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Tallulah Bankhead

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Tallulah Bankhead

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