Monday, November 26, 2012

Bon mot for the week

"Nobody can be exactly like me. Even I have trouble doing it."

Tallulah Bankhead (1902-1968)

I have been tempted to enrol Ms Bankhead among my 'Fantasy Girlfriends' over on Froogville, but my attraction to her has only bloomed relatively late in my life, and is based upon what I have learned of her personality rather than her looks - although she was rather striking in her appearance, and she did have an imposing and distinctively husky voice. (I must have seen her in Hitchcock's 1944 film Lifeboat when I was a boy, but that encounter left no enduring impression on me.)

A flamboyant personality, and extravagant in all her appetites, she delighted in flaunting her many vices: she was an outrageous vamp, a chain smoker, a heavy drinker - and completely unrepentant about any of it. In the 1920s, while working on the London stage, she caused consternation in British government circles through rumours that she was sexually corrupting boys from the nearby Eton College, the country's most exclusive private school. On leaving hospital after suffering near-fatal complications from a dose of venereal disease, she quipped to reporters, "Don't think this has taught me a lesson." Her dying words - many years later - were supposedly, "Codeine... bourbon!"

Rather than calling her a 'Fantasy Girlfriend' (to be frank, I think her sexual rapacity would have terrified me!), I think I should add her to the ranks of my 'Unsuitable Role Models' here on The Barstool.

Here's a good brief biography of her. And this fan site includes a complete recording of one of her '50s radio shows, which gives a nice demonstration of her wonderfully 'lived in' voice, and her fine comic delivery.


Anonymous said...

Great post FROOG, but I don't buy the Eton schoolboy corruption stuff, since we all know Eton is famous for its pillow biters, S @ M plastic bag fixaters and similar.

The only people in Pommy Land who have normal sex is the working class, and then it is always with the lights out.

Yes, Ms Bankhead would scare you sideways and would probably terrorise the death out of me.

My fondest TV memories were of The Avengers and Mrs Peel. Steed/Patrick McNee positively hated English culture and retired in Palm Springs of all places.

Oh yes, Dangerman/Patrick McGoohan also made a highly favourable impression due to his incredibly sharp suits. God, Britain turned out fab bespoke tailors in the 60s. Doug Hayward died a few years ago, and I managed to see a display of his suits at the Melbourne art gallery.

A reporter asked Robert Mitchum what jail was like when he was released after serving time for smoking dope.

"Just like Palm Springs but without the riff raff".

99 in Get Smart also had a great courturier (sic). Lot of black and white checks. Super sharp skirts.

Interesting English fashion disappeared around 1968. Killed off by all that flower power shite. When I am reincarnated, I want to return as Andrew Loog Oldham. Read his bio "Stoned". Fabulous.

Anonymous said...

Found this site yesterday. Nile Rogers the man who bought the people truly excessive disco, Bolivian marching dust and excessive exchanges of precious bodily fluids.

A nice soundtrack by the Isley Brothers.

Froog said...

Thanks for the Nile Rodgers link, KT. It's oddly uplifting to be reminded that China isn't the only country with mind-manglingly obtuse bureaucracy.

Froog said...

I did a post over on Froogville about Emma Peel some years ago - one of the first of my 'Fantasy Girlfriends'.

Re: Eton, I believe it's actually one of the least gay of the major public schools. Being in the middle of a town, and just around the corner from solidly working-class Slough, and only 40 minutes or so out of the centre of London by train - it gives them plenty of access to girls.

I happen to know this because a good friend of mine taught there for many years, and so I have stayed on College property several times - played on their tennis courts, jogged around their notorious playing fields, quaffed their vintage champagne. I even have a t-shirt from their Fencing Club!

I disapprove of the institution, but many of its inmates - staff and pupils - are quite decent sorts.