Tallulah Bankhead (January 31, 1902 - December 12, 1968) was an American actress on stage and film.
Born in Huntsville, Alabama she was the daughter of the prominent Democratic politician William Brockman Bankhead. She was educated at a number of Convent schools around Washington and the north-east. Always interested in performing, after winning a beauty contest she moved to New York City in 1918 to work on Broadway and accepted a few minor film roles. Unsuccessful she moved to London in 1923 and was popular in twenty-four plays in the West End. Carelessly in debt she returned to the US to work for Paramount Pictures, her first two films, Woman's Law (1927) and His House in Order (1928), did little business and her third effort, My Sin (1931), was hardly more successful. She made five further films up to 1932 before leaving the business to return to the theatre, working on Broadway and also touring, her biggest hit was in 1939 with The Little Foxes. She became rather more famous for her extraordinary behaviour, her bisexual promiscuity, wit and her heavy smoking, drinking, and drug use. She even purchased a lion cub from a circus in Reno, Nevada for $100 and named him Winston Churchill, but eventually gave him up when he got too large to handle.
She made a brief return to film in the 1940s, most notably in 1944 in Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat. But after A Royal Scandal in 1945 she again returned to theatre, appearing in film only once more in Fanatic (1965), her eighteenth film. She also did radio work, hosting The Big Show (1950-1953). She died of pneumonia in New York.
She was married only once, to actor John Emery from 1937-1941.