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Tallulah Brockman Bankhead (Alabama, January 31, 1902 – New York, December 12, 1968) was an American film, television actress who spent most of her career in the theater.
He was born on January 31, 1902 in Huntsville, Alabama, and belonged to a family of prominent Democratic Party politicians. His father was Congressman William Brockman Bankhead, his uncle John H. Bankhead II was Senator, as had already been his grandfather, John H. Bankhead I, and his great grandfather, Thomas Patterson Brockman; in addition, the grandfather, John Hollis Bankhead, before Senator, was a local hero, one of the veterans of the defeated Confederate army. The political weight of his family was such that his father would be a spokesman for the United States Congress between June 4, 1936 and June 16, 1940, despite the fact that, at that time, the scandalous life of his daughter actress The peak of his career was known throughout the country.
Tallulah was educated at a Catholic school although his father was a Methodist and his Episcopalian mother.
Tallulah started acting, at the age of 15, at theater companies in Huntsville and the surrounding area, at the age of 16, she won a beauty contest, which encouraged her to move to New York to try to work on Broadway, there she would live with an aunt.
In 1918 he got his first opportunity, he appeared in the movie Who Loved Him Best? by Dell Henderson. That year he shot another two films and another one in 1919.
In 1920 he was offered a role in the film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) directed by John S. Robertson.
As he finally did not manage to launch his career on Broadway, Tallulah, in 1923, decided to try his luck in London.
In London he achieved his purpose and achieved great celebrity, staging plays like Fallen Angels (1925), Noël Coward. This caused that, in 1927, the company Paramount Pictures contracted it. His first two films were Woman’s Law by Dallas M. Fitzgerald 1927 and His House in Order by Randle Ayrton 1928.
His next movie was Honor sullied by George Cukor 1931, the film had some repercussion, but, the criticism about Tallulah’s interpretation had disparate opinions. That same year he also filmed Redimida (My Sin) and El Frau (The Cheat) both by George Abbott.
The following year he would shoot another four films, despite that Tallulah left aside the cinema to concentrate on Broadway where his talent was recognized.
It would be necessary to wait 11 years (until 1944), for the actress to return to the big screen, although the previous year, she had already agreed to appear in a small cameo in Three Days of Love and Faith (Stage Door Canteen) by Frank Borzage. That year she shot Náufragos (Lifeboat) directed by Alfred Hitchcock, who always told the anecdote that the actress caused numerous problems during the filming by working without underwear; for this role Tallulah received the NYFCC award granted by the New York Film Critics Circle.
In 1945 he filmed La zarina (A royal scandal). Later, he returned to Broadway and did not return to the cinema until ten years later. In this long interval, in addition to theatrical roles, also intervened in some television series playing specific roles. Then, between 1950 and 1952, she was the host of the radio show of NBC Radio The Big Show.
In 1965 he starred in Silvio Narizzano’s Fanatic, which would be his last film role; however, a year later he would put his voice to one of the characters in the animated film Soñando despierto or The Adventurous Dreamer (The Daydreamer) by Jules Bass.
His last acting role was on television, in March 1967, when he appeared in two episodes of the Batman series, as “Villana Invitada”, personifying “La Viuda Negra”.
Her last public appearance was on the television show The Tonight Show on May 14, 1968, in which she talks with John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Tallulah was not conventional. She was a typical artist of the 20s who experimented with her sexuality and being bisexual she directed her love towards men and women without distinction.In 1937, she married John Emery, from whom she would divorce in 1941.
The life of Tallulah Bankhead was plagued with scandals, but she never showed remorse, in fact, she said: If she were born again she would commit the same mistakes, only before. “Tallulah did not hide her vices, in fact, she remember by phrases like:
- “Cocaine does not create addiction, I know it because I’ve been taking it for years.”
- “There is a rule that I recommend to follow: never practice two vices at the same time.”
- “My father warned me about men and alcohol, but he never said anything about women and cocaine.”
Tallulah Bankhead died as a result of pneumonia in New York on December 12, 1968.
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