"Nobody can be exactly like me.
Sometimes even I have trouble doing it"
I read Tallulah Bankhead's autobiography when I was ten. I loved her dry sense of humour and strong character. She was a very talented actress, personality, bon vivant and later talk show host.
Tallulah famously lived at the Algonquin Hotel in New York, in Hollywood and London. Her parties were legendary. Few people could keep up with her energy levels, she drank gin and bourbon like water and carried a "suitcase" of drugs wherever she went.
Her sex life was legendary, her many lovers allegedly included Cary Grant, Charlie Chaplin, Marlon Brando, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Billie Holliday, Douglas Fairbanks, Chico Marx, George Raft, Ethel Barrymore, Barbara Stanwyck, Adele Astaire, George Sanders, Bob Hope, Estelle Winwood, Henry Fonda, Groucho Marx, Howard Hughes, Joan Crawford, Humphrey Bogart, John Barrymore, Johnny Weissmuller, Winston Churchill, Yul Brynner, Sarah Vaughan, Louis Armstrong and Gary Cooper. A woman who obviously liked a bit of variety and certainly lived life to the full!
Tallulah's last words were reportedly "Codeine... Bourbon." I think she's fabulous, I would liked to have met her. Here are some of my favourite quotes.
"I read Shakespeare and the Bible, and I can shoot dice.
That's what I call a liberal education"
"It's the good girls that keep diaries.
Bad girls never have the time"
Photography by Paul Tanqueray, 1928
Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery
"I did what I could to inflate the rumour I was on my way to stardom. What I was on my way to, by any mathematical standards known to man, was oblivion by way of obscurity"
Photography by Cecil Beaton
"If you really want to help the theatre, don't be an actress dahling,
be an audience"
"I have three phobias which, could I mute them, would make my life 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"
"I'm the foe of moderation, the champion of excess.
I'd rather be strongly wrong than weakly right"
"My father warned me about men and booze,
but he never said anything about women and cocaine"
"I've had a man and I've had a woman,
there's got to be something better"
"Cocaine isn't habit forming.
I should know - I've been using it for years"
"Before we pursue this delicate subject further, it might be wise to define intoxication. If you wake up in bed with your hat on,
it's my guess you may have been addled on retirement"
"Here's a rule I recommend:
Never practice two vices at once"
"All my life I've been terrible at remembering people's names.
I once introduced a friend of mine as Martini.
Her name was actually Olive"
Photography by Herman Zerrenner
"I was there in the South of France when Zelda (Fitzgerald), poor darling, went off her head. She had gone into a flower shop and suddenly for her, all the flowers had faces. Of course some flowers, such as pansies,
do have faces"
With Gary Cooper, 1932
"I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock.
If I'm late start without me"
(On seeing a former lover for the first time in years)
"I thought I told you to wait in the car"
Photography by Carl Van Vechten
"I'm not at my best when I philosophise.
Logic is elusive, especially to one who rarely uses it"
"It's unlikely I'll ever submit to a psychiatrist's couch. I don't want some stranger prowling around through my psyche, monkeying with my id. I don't need an analyst to tell me I've never had any sense of security.
"I've been absolutely hag-ridden with ambition.
If I could wish to have anything in the world
it would be to be free of ambition"
Drinking Champagne from her shoe, Ritz, London, 1951
"I'm pure as the driven slush"
"The less I behave like Whistler's mother the night before,
the more I look like her the morning after"
"They used to photograph Shirley Temple through gauze.
They should photograph me through lineoleum"
Tallulah, Augustus John and her portrait, 1932
Portrait by Augustus John
"If I were well behaved
I'd die of boredom"
Portrait by Peter Sheil, 1962
Courtesy of the V&A
"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"
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Have a wonderful evening xxx