I knew nothing bout Tallulah except her name. I've never seen a movie with her in it. (She only made a handful of movies, found it boring and preferred the stage)
So why's she so famous?
A five minute google and I know why. Wow! I could spend years on the details of her life. But here is a brief glimpse because life is too short to live someone else's.
The following facts come from the best Tallulah site (the pictures are from all over the net)
She was the youngest member of the Algonquin Round Table.
Tallulah Bankhead was her real name. She was named after her paternal grandmother, who, in turn, was named after the town of Tallulah Falls in Georgia.
While living in London in the '20s Tallulah bought herself a Bentley, which she loved to drive. She wasn't that good with directions, however, and constantly found herself lost in the London streets. She would telephone a taxi-cab and pay the driver to drive to her destination while she followed behind in her car.
Tallulah as Regina Giddens in The Little Foxes
When Tallulah first met Garbo, the first thing she did was walk up to her and pull her eyelash. Garbo said "Ouch!" and Tallulah told her that she just wanted to see if they were real.
In 1936 she tested for the part of Scarlett in Gone With the Wind. She wanted the part desparately. Tallulah was heartbroken when, nearly two years later, Vivien Leigh won the role. She wrote in her autobiography, "I'll go to my grave convinced that I could have drawn the cheers of Longstreet and Beauregard and Robert E. Lee had I been permitted to wrestle with Rhett Butler".
In the late 40s Tallulah bought a Tudor-style country house in Bedford Village, New York. She named it "Windows" (it had 75 of them!) and spent a fortune decorating, re-modeling, landscaping and installing a huge swimming pool. Life was a constant party at Windows and Tallulah was able to run around in the nude as she liked. She adopted a menagerie of pets and people to share the house with her.
By the 1950s, the name "Tallulah" was so analogous with her that she took legal action when Prell shampoo used a jingle with her name in it for an advertisement. Tallulah was victorious and the company stopped using the ad.
Tallulah had a pet lion called Winston Churchill. She bought him at a circus while staying in Reno. Winston toured with Tallulah during The Second Mrs. Tanqueray and took curtain calls with her. She eventually gave him to the Bronx Zoo when his size and appetite became too much for her to handle.
Victory Red was the only shade of lipstick (manufactured by Elizabeth Arden) that Tallulah wore.
Tallulah Bankhead told a friend that her doctor had advised her to eat an apple every time she had the urge to drink. She arched an eyebrow and added, "But really, dahlings, sixty apples a day!" (from The Hollywood Reporter by Tichi Wilkerson)
And finally, a piece from The Observer by Chloe Diski:
"It would be a shame to whittle down silver-screen actress Tallulah Bankhead's vices to an unexceptional drink problem. She was an accomplished drinker, famed for being able to polish off a bottle of bourbon in under 30 minutes ... but in the same amount of time she could also plough through 100 Craven As, inhale a cloud of cocaine, while flirting the pants off any male or, more likely, female that she could see through her intoxicated haze. And she was probably doing all this in her preferred state of dress: stark naked. Bankhead stood out from her friends at New York's Algonquin round table and Hollywood's drinking elite because she revelled in debauchery: '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.' In 1968, aged 66, after uttering her last words, 'codeine, bourbon', she died in New York of pneumonia, caught by wandering nude around her dressing room in a Philadelphia theatre."
10 Quotes (allegedly)
I'm as pure as the driven slush.
If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner.
Here's a rule I recommend: Never practice two vices at once.
It's the good girls who keep diaries; the bad girls never have the time.
Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it.
If you really want to help the American theater, don't be an actress, dahling. Be an audience.
I read Shakespeare and the Bible, and I can shoot dice. That's what I call a liberal education.
Say anything about me, dahling, as long as it isn't boring.
I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock. If I'm late, start without me.
Codeine...bourbon... (her last words)