B1586. TALLULAH BANKHEAD. Tallulah, My Autobiography. New York, Harper, 1952. 335pp. Index; Photos; DJ. In her own words, the life of the inimitable actress known for her daring ways and distinctive foghorn voice. Her flamboyant public personality may be the most fully realized and memorable character Bankhead ever played. She became famous for her snappy repartee, candid quotes, and scandalous lifestyle.
“Tallulah Brockman Bankhead was an American actress of the stage and screen, talk-show host, and bonne vivante. Bankhead was also known for her deep voice, flamboyant personality, romances with men and women, and support of liberal causes. At 15, Bankhead won a movie-magazine beauty contest and persuaded her family to let her move to New York. She quickly won bit parts and during these early New York years, she became a peripheral member of the Algonquin Round Table and was known as a hard-partying girl-about-town. During this time she began to use cocaine and marijuana, going as far as saying ‘Cocaine isn't habit-forming and I know because I've been taking it for years’. However, she did not consume alcohol to any great degree. She also became known for her outspokenness. Once, while in attendance at a party, a guest made a comment about rape, and Bankhead reportedly replied ‘I was raped in our driveway when I was eleven. You know darling, it was a terrible experience because we had all that gravel’. She professed to having a ravenous appetite for sex, but not for a particular type. ‘I've tried several varieties of sex. The conventional position makes me claustrophobic. And the others give me either stiff neck or lockjaw’, she said. Bankhead, who proved a masterful comedienne and intriguing personality, following the release of the Kinsey Reports, was once quoted as stating, ‘I found no surprises in the Kinsey Report. The good doctor's clinical notes were old hat to me...I've had many momentary love affairs. A lot of these impromptu romances have been climaxed in a fashion not generally condoned. I go into them impulsively. I scorn any notion of their permanence. I forget the fever associated with them when a new interest presents itself’. Though Bankhead's career slowed in the mid-1950's, she never faded from the public eye. Although she had become a heavy drinker and consumer of sleeping pills (she was a life-long insomniac), Bankhead continued to perform in the 1950's and 1960's on Broadway, in the occasional film, as a highly-popular radio show host, and in the new medium of television.”
- Zillah Dorset Akron