An inoffensive but remarkably unimaginative, uningratiating fictional biography of Tallulah Bankhead, here called Marabelle...

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MARABELLE

An inoffensive but remarkably unimaginative, uningratiating fictional biography of Tallulah Bankhead, here called Marabelle Lawrence. Now and again--mostly when the story is unmistakably being told by Marabelle's childhood chum, writer Eddie--there's a bit of a skeptical, lively snap to the social/showbiz tattle. But Huff is lazy about point-of-view, and the narration is more often faceless and flavorless--as Tallulah's career and love-life and well-known outrageousness are dutifully recycled. Alabama Southern-belle background, proper Senator father, lesbian tendencies (played way down here), involvements with the Barrymores (here called the Hamptons), suicide attempts, serious Broadway stardom in The Little Foxes (the Lillian Hellman character makes lesbian overtures), losing the Scarlett O'Hara role, marriage to a Beau Brummel rumored to be John Barrymore's illegitimate son (here placed about a decade later than in TB's life), Stage Door Canteen, hobnobbing with the Noel Coward circle, and a decline climaxing in a Tennessee Williams fiasco (""Walter Kerr can go fuck himself""), etc., etc.--Huff simply churns it out, presumably under the impression that Tallulah/Marabelle's famed conversational style (italics, ""darling,"" and ribaldry) will be enough to keep things hopping. There's only the limpest stab at a psychological portrait (the friction with impossible-to-please Daddy), and the mixture of real names with clefs is mostly just annoying. Surprisingly tame and thoroughly uninvolving--especially since all the better anecdotes (and far more of the real Tallulah allure) can be found either in Lee Israel's biography or Brendan Gill's illustrated profile.

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 1980

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1980