American actress Tallulah Brockman Bankhead was considered as one of the most well-liked leading ladies of theater in the 20th century. She had participated in about 300 stage, cinema, television, and radio productions and was renowned for her husky voice, distinctive mannerisms, and overwhelming wit. She produced well-known plays like “They Knew What They Needed” and “The Little Foxes,” among others. She had made a significant contribution to the success of Noel Coward’s “Private Lives,” touring it and then bringing it to Broadway. She enjoyed a brief but fruitful career in radio and received praise for her admirable turn in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Lifeboat. She starred as the villain in the classic TV shows “Batman” and “The Ford Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show,” both of which she featured in. Bankhead was well-known for her scandalous sex life, substance use, and alcoholism, but she was also renowned for her generosity and kindness. She assisted several families flee the Spanish Civil War and World War II, and she supported orphaned children. Both the American Theater Hall of Fame and the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame honored her in 1972 and 1981, respectively.
Early Youth & Life
On January 31, 1902, Tallulah Brockman Bankhead was born in Huntsville, Alabama. William Brockman Bankhead and Adelaide Eugenia “Ada” Bankhead were her parents. Eugenia was her older sibling. Her father served as Speaker of the US House of Representatives from 1936 to 1940 and was a member of the political Bankhead-and-Brockman dynasty.
Less than three weeks after Tallulah was born, her mother passed away from blood poisoning. Her father became depressed and alcoholic after the passing of her mother. As a consequence, her paternal grandmother took care of her and her sister.
Her grandmother found it difficult to manage the girls as they got older. After that, in 1912, they were transferred to the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Manhattanville, New York. Since their father’s political career required him to travel, the girls were regularly transferred between schools.
Tallulah Bankhead’s Career
When Tallulah Bankhead was 15, she sent her photo to a ‘Picture Play’ contest, which promised a trip to New York and a part in a movie to the winners. Despite the fact that she neglected to include her name and address with her photo, she subsequently learned that she had won.
She got in touch with the publication and shortly flew to New York. In the movie “Who Loved Him Best,” she was assigned a small part. She began looking for other opportunities to break into the New York entertainment business after becoming dissatisfied with her role.
She soon discovered the Algonquin Hotel and used charm to gain entry to the group of New York City writers, actors, and critics known as The Algonquin Round Table. She also began going to Algonquin’s wild gatherings, where she first encountered drugs.
She made friends with some actresses at the Algonquin group and received proposals for three silent films: “When Men Betray,” “Thirty a Week,” and “The Trap” in 1918 and 1919, respectively.
She made her stage debut at the Bijou Theatre in “The Squab Farm” around this time. She made further stage appearances in the plays “39 East” and “Footloose” in 1919.
She didn’t have the patience to shoot for movies and TV shows for months, so she preferred stage performances to screen ones. Her stage projects increased as a result. She appeared in two more plays in 1921, “Nice People” and “Everyday”.
She appeared in the plays “Danger,” “Her Temporary Husband,” and “The Exciters” in 1922. Despite receiving favorable reviews for her performances, none of the plays were a success. After spending five years working in New York without success, she decided to relocate to London.
She made her stage debut in London in 1923 at Wyndham’s Theatre. She appeared in over 12 shows, including the popular “The Dancers,” during her eight years there. With her role in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “They Knew What They Wanted,” she rose to fame in 1924.
She relocated to Hollywood in 1931, and in “Tarnished Woman,” she made a cameo appearance. Despite finding it dull, she had to continue producing films because she was paid $50,000 per one. She was featured in two films, ‘Devil and the Deep’ and ‘Faithless’ in 1932. But neither of the movies did anything to advance her reputation.
She returned to the New York stage in 1934 and appeared in some unmemorable plays like ‘Dark Victory’, ‘Rain’, ‘Something Gay’, ‘Reflected Glory’ and ‘Antony and Cleopatra’. She had a role in the well-received drama “The Circle” in 1938. Her breakthrough performance as Regina Giddens in Lillian Hellman’s drama “The Little Foxes” came next.
When she was chosen to play journalist Constance Porter in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “Lifeboat” in 1944, she achieved fame on the big screen.
She was recruited by NBC to host “The Big Show” in 1950, and the network spent millions on the program over its two seasons. The performance, however, fell short of what the producers had hoped for.
In December 1957, she played The Ford Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show, one of her most well-known television roles. In the episode “The Celebrity Next Door,” she portrayed herself.
Due to her drug use, alcoholism, and scandalous personal life, Bankhead’s career and fame began to decline in the middle of the 1950s. She continued to act until the 1960s on stage, radio, television, and in movies despite being a heavy drinker, smoker, and pill user.
Tallulah’s Bigger Productions
Tallulah Bankhead’s outstanding portrayal of the ruthless Regina Giddens in the play “The Little Foxes” received high acclaim from critics and was hailed as one of the best performances in the annals of American theater. In addition, she appeared on the cover of “Life” while the show was being performed.
Her outstanding portrayal of writer Constance Porter in the movie “Lifeboat” received high praise from critics. The movie was a financial success. Her outstanding portrayal earned her the New York Film Critics Circle award for best actress of the year.
Tallulah’s Individual Existence
Many well-known female figures, including actresses Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo, authors Mercedes de Acosta and Eva Le Gallienne, and singer Billie Holiday, were emotionally and sexually associated with Tallulah Bankhead.
The actress Patsy Kelly also acknowledged having a sexual connection with Bankhead while serving as her personal assistant.
Due to a venereal illness, Bankhead underwent a complicated, five-hour emergency hysterectomy in 1933.
She wed John Emery, a performer, on August 31, 1937. They split up in 1941. Although she was childless, she had four abortions before turning 30.
She battled alcoholism and drug addiction in the early 1950s, and she also began using drugs to help her sleeplessness. She also experienced psychotic symptoms and loneliness-related sadness. She had double pneumonia and passed away on December 12, 1968, when she was 66 years old.
Estimated Net Worth
Tallulah is one of the wealthiest and most well-known movie actresses. Tallulah Bankhead’s net wealth is $5 million, per our analysis of information from sources like Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.