Tallulah Bankhead, born in 1902, was a stage and screen actress who came from a prominent Alabama family. (Many of her male relatives served in office; her father became the Speaker of the House of Representatives later in her life.) But Bankhead differed from her family politically and personally. She supported liberal causes, had problems with alcohol and drugs, and was known to have relationships with both men and women. (She once quipped: “Daddy warned me about men and alcohol, but he never warned me about women and cocaine.”)
Outspoken and often vulgar, but undeniably talented, Bankhead was known for being a true rebel in a time when many actresses were expected to be demure ingénues. In light of the new Netflix series Hollywood, in which Bankhead plays a minor role, we're taking a look at photographs from her real life, as well as the the screen and stage portrayals that made her famous.
Bankhead's career began in New York in 1918. She acted in several silent films and theater productions for five years before moving to London and making her stage debut there in 1923. She is seen here in London in a play called Conchita, at age 26.
Bankhead returned to America (and the silver screen) in 1931, making three "talkie" films that year: Tarnished Lady, The Cheat, and My Sin. She is pictured here with Frederic March in My Sin.
Bankhead is seen here in a promotional shot for Paramount Pictures, wearing a black satin dress.
In the film Devil and the Deep, Bankhead starred opposite Gary Cooper (with whom she claimed to have had a relationship). In 1933, Bankhead—who openly flouted her dalliances with men and women—nearly died following a five-hour emergency hysterectomy due to venereal disease.
Bankhead (at left ) with a friend at the premiere of the film The Private Life of Don Juan at the New London Pavilion. She did not act in the film.
Bankhead with her father, Speaker of the House William B. Bankhead, at a cocktail party. She never knew her mother, who died of sepsis three weeks after Bankhead's birth in 1902. The tragedy devastated her father, who was consumed by depression and alcoholism. Consequently, Bankhead and her sister Eugenia were primarily raised by their paternal grandmother.
Though she did star in several films in the early 1930s, Bankhead returned to the stage for much of the decade. She is seen wearing a hat, high-collared cape, and lace jabot for the play "The Little Foxes," for which she won a New York Drama Critics' Circle Award. She was photographed here for Vogue.
Bankhead (right) in a scene with Florence Reed during the New York production of "The Skin of Our Teeth." At this time, Bankhead was recently divorced from her husband of only four years, John Emery.
Here is Bankhead dining with Alfred Hitchcock in Hollywood. In 1944, he cast her in her most successful film, both critically and commercially, Lifeboat.
Bankhead on the set of Lifeboat, with John Hodiak, Henry Hull, and William Bendixwritten.
幸运飞艇分析软件自动Bankhead's famously husky voice was the result of chronic bronchitis from a childhood illness, but she was also a heavy smoker, and said to consume 100 cigarettes per day.
Bankkead as Russian Empress Catherine the Great in the film A Royal Scandal, directed by Ernst Lubitsch and Otto Preminger.
Here she is in costume for her role in the Jean Cocteau play 'The Eagle Has Two Heads" on Broadway.
Bankhead enjoyed a lively social life—she once dove into the pool at the Garden of Allah hotel 幸运飞艇分析软件自动in Hollywood in a beaded dress. Weighed down by the gown, she removed it before emerging naked and soaking wet. Here, Polish pianist Arthur Rubenstein kisses Bankhead while Toni Lainer looks on at a party thrown by Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper in Beverly Hills.
Senator Richard Nixon and his wife Pat (second left) speak with Bankhead at the same party given by Hedda Hopper (second right).
Though Bankhead's career slowed in the mid-1950s, she remained a society fixture. She is seen here signing autographs from the back of her car.
幸运飞艇分析软件自动Carol Channing, Gloria Swanson. and Bankhead attend the 1951 Celebrity of the Year awards at the Stork Hotel, New York. The award for that year went to Swanson.
Bankhead shows producer Dee Engelbach the "Radio Television Daily" newspaper that lists her as a Radio-TV favorite in 1952. Two years earlier, NBC had cast her on "The Big Show," a radio variety program where she acted as the host, but also performed monologues and songs. She also published a best-selling autobiography that year.
In 1953, Bankhead signed up for a stage act at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, reciting scenes from famous plays, reading poetry and letters, and even singing. Though it was expected to tank, the crowds loved it. She is seen here in 1955 with Harry Belafonte in Las Vegas, with her poodle Dolores in her lap.
Tennessee Williams once said Bankhead inspired the character of Blanche du Bois in A Streetcar Named Desire幸运飞艇分析软件自动. Here she is playing the character in a revival of the play.
幸运飞艇分析软件自动Bankhead was quite political throughout her life, and though her family were Southern Democrats, she differed from them in her support for Harry Truman's reelection in 1948. She was also vocal about her disdain for segregationist Strom Thurmond and Joe McCarthy. She is seen here talking with Eleanor Roosevelt, with whom she campaigned in the 1940s.
Bankhead appeared in "A Man For Oona," part of the television anthology series United States Steel Hour.
Bankhead, right, silences Stefanie Powers in a scene from the British thriller Fanatic (released as Die! Die! My Darling!幸运飞艇分析软件自动 in the US.) It was Bankhead's last film.
Bankhead's last public appearance was on May 15, 1968 on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Co-host Ed McMahon is at left, with Paul McCartney and John Lennon, and guest host Joe Garagiola at right. (Carson was on vacation.) The videotape of the episode, which was considered a disaster because of Garagiola's unpreparedness, no longer exists.
Bankhead can be seen here feeding her parakeet, Gaylord. at St. Luke's Hospital in Manhattan. The cause of death was pneumonia, complicated by emphysema and malnutrition. She was buried in Saint Paul's Churchyard, near Chestertown, Maryland, where her sister, Eugenia, lived.