FW: Daily Dose: Tallulah!: the Life and Times of a Leading Lady
From: dailydose@... [mailto:dailydose@...]
Sent: Sunday, December 26, 2004 2:05 AM
To: Amos J Wright
Subject: Daily Dose: Tallulah!: the Life and Times of a Leading Lady
Today's Dose is recommended by A. V. from Seattle, Washington
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"Tallulah!: The Life and Times of a Leading Lady"
by Joel Lobenthal
Outrageous, outspoken, and uninhibited, Tallulah Bankhead was
an actress known as much for her vices -- cocaine, alcohol, hysterical
tirades, and scandalous affairs with both men and women -- as
she was for her winning performances on stage. In 1917, a
Bankhead boldly left her established Alabama political family
and fled to New York City to sate her relentless need for attention
and become a star. Five years later, she crossed the Atlantic,
immediately taking her place as a fixture in British society and
the most popular actress in London's West End. By the time she
returned to America in the 1930s, she was infamous for throwing
marathon parties, bedding her favorite costars, and neglecting
to keep her escapades a secret from the press. At times, her notoriety
distracted her audience from her formidable talent and achievements
on stage and dampened the critical re-sponse to her work. As Bankhead
herself put it, "they like me to 'Tallulah,' you know -- dance
and sing and romp and fluff my hair and play reckless parts."
Still, her reputation as a wild, witty, over-the-top leading lady
persisted until the end of her life at the age of sixty-six.
From her friendships with such entertainment luminaries as Tennessee
Williams, Estelle Winwood, Billie Holiday, Noël Coward, and Marlene
Dietrich, to the intimate details of her family relationships
and her string of doomed romances, Joel Lobenthal has captured
the private essence of the most public star during theater's golden
age. Larger-than-life as she was, friends saw through Bankhead's
veneer of humor and high times to the heart of a woman who often
felt second-best in her father's eyes, who longed for the children
she was unableto bear, and who forced herself into the spotlight
to hide her deep-seated insecurities.
Drawn from scores of exclusive interviews, as well as previously
untapped information from Scotland Yard and the FBI, this is the
essential biography of Tallulah Bankhead. Having spent twenty-five
years researching Bankhead's life, Joel Lobenthal tells her
story, as told to him by her closest friends, enemies, lovers,
and employees. Several have broken decadelong silences; many have
given Lobenthal their final interviews. The result is the story
of a woman more complex, more shocking, and yet more nuanced than
her notorious legend suggests.
"Critic Lobenthal (the New York Times, Playbill, etc.) began researching
Tallulah Bankhead (1902 -- 1968) as an undergraduate. Twenty-five
years later, his exhaustively researched biography is the definitive,
gloves-off evocation of the life of the brazen stage and screen
actress so roundly ahead of her time."
-- Publishers Weekly
"The word 'legend' gets tossed around so lightly these days that
it's a treat to bite into the life of a real legend, Tallulah
Bankhead, a sacred monster and scandalizer who tore down the curtain
between onstage and off. Idol of drag queens, first countess of
Camp, sexual devourer of men and women alike, she drags her mink
coat through the pages of Joel Lobenthal's biography with the
bravura that made her a star. It's all here, the extravagant highs
and the lonesome lows. 'Tallulah!' earns its exclamation mark."
-- James Wolcott, Vanity Fair columnist and author of 'The Catsitters'
and 'Attack Poodles'
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in particular, may be available in extremely limited supply.
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