December 12, 2012

Simply a Southern Belle: Tallulah Bankhead

On this day in 1968, Hollywood (and the rest of us) lost one of the greats with the passing of Ms. Tallulah Bankhead. This Alabama-born belle followed no rules but her own and made a quite a splash wherever she went, from London to Washington D.C., New York to Los Angeles. 

I can't help but wonder how different Gone with the Wind would have been if she'd been cast as Scarlett. And it wasn't a lack of trying on her part to win the role...the story goes that she enlisted members of her Alabama family to stage a letter writing campaign to David O. Selznick claiming she was the only actress right for the part. It's sort of sad when you think about it...a genuine southern belle denied the chance to play the quintessential southern belle, and passed over for a Brit, no less (of course y'all know I love Vivien Leigh so I mean no disrespect).  

Bankhead wrote the following in her autobiography about the situation: "I'll go to my grave convinced that I could have drawn the cheers of Longstreet and Beauregard and Robert E. Lee had I been permitted to wrestle with Rhett Butler. 

**I was recently dining with a group of ladies and talk turned to baby names. Some mentioned the name Tallulah (which I happen to love) and expressed disdain for it. Maybe she wasn't born in the south?