Tallulah Bankhead


Biography of Tallulah Bankhead

Tallulah Brockman Bankhead (January 31, 1902 – December 12, 1968) 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, and support of liberal causes, which broke with the tendency of Southern Democrats at the time to support a more conservative agenda. She was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame in 1981.

Bankhead was born in Huntsville, Alabama, to William Brockman Bankhead and Adelaide Eugenia "Ada" Bankhead (née Sledge). She was born on the second floor of what is now known as the Isaac Schiffman Building; a marker was erected to commemorate the site and, in 1980, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. "Tallu" was named after her paternal grandmother. Her mother died of blood poisoning (Septicemia) on February 23, 1902, three weeks after Bankhead's birth. She had an elder sister, Evelyn Eugenia.

She came from the powerful Bankhead and Brockman political family, active in the Democratic Party in the South in general and Alabama in particular. Her father was the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1936 to 1940. She was the niece of Senator John H. Bankhead II and granddaughter of Senator John H. Bankhead.

She and her sister were mostly reared by their paternal grandmother, Tallulah James Brockman Bankhead, at Sunset in Jasper. Bankhead's family sent her to various schools in a vain attempt to keep her out of trouble, which included several years at a Roman Catholic convent school (although her father was a Methodist and her mother an Episcopalian). The young Bankhead was described as "an extremely homely child", overweight and with a deep, husky voice resulting from chronic bronchitis. However, others described her as an exhibitionist, performer, personality, and star from the very beginning.

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