You can’t beat an old fashioned high camp bitch and Tallulah Bankhead was one of the wildest, most original and best.
She’s sadly mostly forgotten nowadays. How can you not love a crazed bisexual woman who slept with hundreds of people, smoked 100 cigarettes a day (and even employed an assistant to wake her on the hour in the night with a lit cigarette at the ready) and drank bourbon and gin like it was water? She was also renowned for her great wit. I’ve quoted a few examples below.
“If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.”
“It’s the good girls who keep diaries; the bad girls never have the time.”
“My heart is as pure as the driven slush.”
“They used to photograph Shirley Temple through gauze. They should photograph me through linoleum.”
“Cocaine isn’t habit forming. I should know, I’ve been using it for years.”
“I’ve tried several varieties of sex. The conventional position makes me claustrophobic and the others give me either stiff neck or lockjaw.”
“I was raped in our driveway when I was eleven. You know darling, it was a terrible experience because we had all that gravel.”
Her last coherent words reportedly were “Codeine… bourbon.”
Tallulah went to Midnight Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City one Christmas Eve. Tallulah was already hideously drunk, so when the Bishop proceeded down the aisle in his finest vestments swinging a censer full of burning incense, through very bleary eyes, Tallulah took one look at him and shouted “Darling, your dress is divine, but your purse is on fire!!”
How’s that for an iconic wit?
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Chris is a theatre and book obsessed Midlander who escaped to London. He’s usually to be found slumped in a seat in a darkened auditorium.
Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.