Tallulah Bankhead
Tallulah Bankhead (31 January 1902-12 December 1968) was an American actress and political activist. Bankhead came from a political family of conservative Southern Democrats, but she supported liberal causes such as the Civil Rights movement and publicly opposed her family.


Tallulah Bankhead was born in Huntsville, Alabama, United States on 31 January 1902, the daughter of Speaker of the House William B. Bankhead. She was named for her grandmother, whose name came from Tallulah Falls, Georgia. Her grandfather John H. Bankhead and her uncle John H. Bankhead II were both Democratic Party senators, while her father was a prominent Democratic politician. Tallulah's mother died three weeks after her birth from septicemia, and she was mostly raised by her grandmother after her father became a depressed alcoholic. She went to private school in New York, where she became a showgirl. She did cocaine and marijuana instead of drinking, as her father was a prohibitionist. In 1923, she debuted on stage in London, and one of her shows won a Pulitzer Prize in 1925. She returned to the United States in 1931, and she starred in the 1932 movie Devil and the Deep alongside Gary Cooper. She also starred in Lifeboat in 1944, another critical success. Bankhead was known to be a charitable person, helping child refugees escape the Spanish Civil War and World War II.

Truman Tallulah

Bankhead with Harry S. Truman in 1948

In 1948, Bankhead broke with many southerners by campaigning for the Democrat Harry S. Truman's re-election as President of the United States. She publicly criticized her family's segregationist views and belittled Republican Party challenger Thomas E. Dewey, letting Truman win the election. At the inauguration parade, Bankhead booed South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond as his float passed by, as Thurmond had led the segregationist Dixiecrats during the election. Bankhead did much more to anger her family; she was known as a libertine, once saying that six months without an affair was too long. She was also known to be bisexual, having affairs with famous leading men and ladies. Her alcohol, drug, and sex addictions took a toll on her, and her career had faded by the mid-1950s. She died of pneumonia in New York City in 1968, with her death being caused by cigarette smoking, malnutrition, and the flu.

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