MISS TALLULAH BANKHEAD by Lee Israel

MISS TALLULAH BANKHEAD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A magnetic portrait of the original Dahling, all nerve and nerves, who upstaged herself from the time when she was christened beside her mother's coffin to her own finale in a plain casket, covered in a favorite silk wrapper dotted with cigarette holes. From the beginning she dreamt the same dream -- that she was alone in a jungle -- reified in the funk that prefaced every public appearance throughout her resistant, desperate, degenerative life where all the props failed -- liquor, cocaine, and versatile, promiscuous sex. A legend in her own time, she became (as prophesied of John Barrymore whom she idolized) a ""caricature"" of herself. Work was a partial solvent but it did not always come easily -- in the beginning or in the first two misspent years in Hollywood. If Daddy Will was the ""affective epicenter"" of her childhood, you wonder about the later years when she became the cynosure of chic attention as a young woman in London or the recklessly ravaged woman of the middle and later years -- but always manifesting ""the gift of life, the grace and vulnerability of a child (she loved children), the generosity of a sailor. And that is good to be around."" Miss Israel has brought Tallulah back in style so that she snarls, drawls, startles and, with the whammy-star quality that was hers, unquestionably dazzles.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 1971
Publisher: Putnam