Tallulah Bankhead

The only thing I regret about my past is the length of it. If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner.

Tallulah Brockman Bankhead (31 January 190212 December 1968) was an American actress of the stage, screen and radio, known for her husky voice, outrageous personality, devastating wit, and reputation as a libertine. She is regarded as one of the great stage actresses of the 20th century.

The cynic says "blessed is he who expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed." I say "blessed is he who expecteth everything, for he can't always be disappointed.
My father warned me about men and booze, but he never mentioned a word about women and cocaine.

QuotesEdit

I'm as pure as the driven slush.
Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it.
  • I don’t know what I want.
    Nobody knows — or if they do, they don’t know for long.
    I mean, you don’t want the same thing long enough for it to be What You Want From Life in capital letters.
    Well, maybe some people do. Maybe there's a few simple folks — or maybe a few million, I don't know — who fix their hearts, and their minds, and their everlasting souls on a thing, and keep on all their lives hoping for it. Living for it. Wanting It From Life.
    But these are the people who never get it.
  • Only good girls keep diaries. Bad girls don't have the time.
    • As quoted in The Pleasures of Diaries: Four Centuries of Private Writing (1989) by Ronald Blythe, p. 3
    • Variant: Only good girls keep diaries. Bad girls don't have time.
      • As quoted in Diaries of Ireland: An Anthology, 1590-1987 (1997) by Melosina Lenox-Conynghim, p. vii
  • I was raped in a driveway when I was eleven. … It was a terrible experience because we had all that gravel.
    • As quoted in The Girls : Sappho Goes to Hollywood (2001) by Diana McLellan, p. 134
    • I was raped in our driveway when I was eleven. … You know darling, it was a terrible experience because we had all that gravel.
      • As quoted in Somebody : The Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando (2011), by Stefan Kanfer, p. 65

Tallulah: My Autobiography (1952)Edit

Tallulah: My Autobiography. University Press of Mississippi; illustrated edition edition (July 7, 2004)
  • I have three phobias which, could I mute them, would make my life as slick as a sonnet, but as dull as ditch water — I hate to go to bed, I hate to get up, and I hate to be alone.
  • No man worth his salt, no man of spirit and spine, no man for whom I could have any respect, could rejoice in the identification of Tallulah's husband. It's tough enough to be bogged down in a legend. It would be even tougher to marry one.
  • I'm as pure as the driven slush.
  • It's one of the tragic ironies of the theatre that only one man in it can count on steady work — the night watchman.
  • The only thing I regret about my past is the length of it. If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner.
  • Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it.
  • Here's a rule I recommend. Never practice two vices at once.
    • On drinking impacting her gambling abilities
  • If you really want to help the American theater, don't be an actress, dahling. Be an audience.
  • Let's not quibble! I'm the foe of moderation, the champion of excess. If I may lift a line from a die-hard whose identity is lost in the shuffle, "I'd rather be strongly wrong than weakly right."
  • Cocaine isn't habit forming. I should know — I've been using it for years.
  • There's less in this than meets the eye.

Tallulah, Darling: A Biography of Tallulah Bankhead (1980)Edit

Brian, Denis. Tallulah, Darling: A Biography of Tallulah Bankhead. New York: Macmillan Publishing (1980)
  • Codeine...bourbon...
    • Tallulah Bankhead's last coherent words, p. 1
  • I've tried several varieties of sex, all of which I hate. The conventional position makes me claustrophobic; the others give me a stiff neck and/or lockjaw.
  • I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock. If I'm late, start without me.

Quotes about TallulahEdit

Everybody loves Tallulah! Who'd have the heart not to! ~ Helen Hayes
Sorted alphabetically by author or source
The whole point about Tallulah was that she had no inhibitions. Now some people can take this, others can't. ~ Alfred Hitchcock
  • The most outrageous actress on either side of the Mason-Dixon Line is indisputably Tallulah Bankhead. With a career that spanned fifty years, she appeared in fifty-one plays, eighteen movies, and made countless radio, television and nightclub appearances; but she is best known for "molding her life into a stunning theatrical role," as Notable American Women puts it. Named for Tallulah Falls in her native Alabama, her throaty rasp, golden-blond hair, ripping wit, and absolute scorn for convention conquered everybody she encountered in real life, on screen, and especially on stage where she triumphed brilliantly playing her naturally quick wit and sterling rapport with others. … Nobody, past or present, could beat the stunning beauty, with huge expressive eyes, to a punch line.
    • Seale Ballenger, in Hell's Belles: A Tribute to the Spitfires, Bad Seeds & Steel Magnolias of the New and Old South (1997), p. 54
  • Tallulah Bankhead is a wicked archangel with her flowing ash-blonde hair and carven features. Her profile is perfectly Grecian, flow of line from forehead to nose like the head on a medallion. ... She is a Medusa, very exotic, with a glorious skull, high pumice-stone cheek bones, and a broad brow, and was equally interesting sculpturally when she was plump as she now is cadaverously thin. Hers is the most easily recognizable face I know and the most luscious. … Miss Bankhead's cheeks are like huge acid-pink peonies, her eyelashes are built out with hot liquid paint to look like burnt matches, and her sullen, discontented, rather evil rosebud of a mouth is painted the brightest scarlet and is as shiny as Tiptree's strawberry jam.
  • On The Little Foxes I begged the producer, Samuel Goldwyn, to let Tallulah Bankhead play Regina because Tallulah was magnificent on the stage. He wouldn't let her. … A great admirer of hers, I wanted in no way to be influenced by her work. It was Willie's intention that I give a different interpretation of the part. I insisted that Tallulah had played it the only way it could be played. Miss Hellman's Regina was written with such definition that it could only be played one way. I had to do that part exactly the way Tallulah did it, because that's the way Lillian Hellman wrote it. But I was always sad that Tallulah couldn't record Regina from the theatre, because she was marvelous.
    • Bette Davis, on playing the role of Regina Giddens in The Little Foxes, which Tallulah had originated on Broadway, much to Tallulah's chagrin.
  • A day away from Tallulah is like a month in the country.
    • Howard Dietz, as quoted in Tallulah: My Autobiography (1952), Ch. 15 Affidavit of the Accused
  • The whole point about Tallulah was that she had no inhibitions. Now some people can take this, others can't.
    • Alfred Hitchcock, on working with her in the film Lifeboat as quoted in The Dark Side of Genius : The Life of Alfred Hitchcock (1999) by Donald Spoto, p. 269
  • Tallulah never bored anyone, and I consider that humanitarianism of a very high order indeed.
    • Anita Loos, as quoted in "'Humanitarian Tallulah' Never Bored Anyone", in St. Petersburg Times (18 December 1968), p. 2-A; also in The Ottawa Journal (28 December 1968), p. 6
  • My first memory of the great lady — for that she was, above all — was a college boy invitation I sent her to attend the Yale-Princeton game. Never a thought entered my mind that the lady would answer the telegram, but she did, and altho it was in the negative, she had a devoted fan forever. Later, I not only came to know her, but worked with her in radio and on the screen — and fan I still was, to the end.
    • Vincent Price, in "Tallulah: A 'Work of Art'" in The Chicago Tribune (13 April 1969)
  • She was magnificent. There ain't nobody like her. In her heyday nobody had a bigger ball. She had that magnificent beauty that is ugly in a funny way. Judith Anderson and Laurette Taylor had it too. They came off being the most beautiful women in the world through an illumination of their own personality. I've seen Tallulah look absolutely dreadful, then take a shot of ammonia and Coca-Cola and turn into a beauty.
  • Tallulah has never hesitated to speak what she feels to be the truth, no matter about the possible hurt to herself, because when you speak the truth it is you, the speaker, who is most likely to be hurt. Tallulah is the strongest of all the hurt people I've ever known in my life. And of hurt people I've known a remarkable number, Including some I have hurt myself, and one of them is Tallulah.
    She has forgiven me for it, but I am not yet ready to forgive myself.
    • Tennessee Williams, in "T. Williams View of T. Bankhead", in New Selected Essays: Where I Live (2009), edited by John S. Bak, p. 135
  • I heard someone calling out "Five minutes, Miss Bankhead." There was a response to the call, and this response was delivered in a voice that, having once heard, I would never stop hearing inside my head as I wrote lines for ladies that somehow resulted from the fantastic crossbreeding of a moth and a tiger. Here was the voice for which I had written the part of Myra Torrance in Battle of Angels, and written it for that voice without ever having heard it except in films. I went backstage after the play that night and she received me in her dressing room with that graciousness that has nothing to do with her Southern origin and genteel breeding but with her instinctive kindness to a person in whom she senses a vulnerability that is kin to her own. I suppose I simply mean that she saw or sensed immediately that I was meeting, for the first time in my life, a great star, and that I was more than just properly awed. I was virtually dumb-struck.
    • Tennessee Williams, in "T. Williams View of T. Bankhead", in New Selected Essays: Where I Live (2009), edited by John S. Bak, p. 135

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