Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

TINTYPE TUESDAY: Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and… Tallulah Bankhead?

Welcome to another edition of TINTYPE TUESDAY!

Ah, April—when our hearts and minds turn to baseball! Which of course brings us to Tallulah Bankhead.

Wait, what?

bankhead-7

Oh yes, people! We all know Tallulah was a colorful character (to put it mildly, which she never would) and one-woman pithy-quote machine. (“I’m as pure as the driven slush.”) And also a brilliant actress, which, sadly, her offstage antics often obscured. But did you know about her other favorite pastime—the one she pursued passionately, with all her clothes on and even a modest little woolen hat?

Baseball.

And she wasn’t just a casual fan, like the celebs you see nowadays who show up for playoff games to get some national exposure. (“Oh, look who’s in the stands, Buck! It’s Suzi Silicone, from the new Fox series Stripper Cops!”) Nope—our Tallu followed baseball, and her beloved Giants, religiously.

bankhead-baseball-2

She agonized when they were losing…

bankhead-baseball-1

…and whooped it up when they won!

bankhead-baseball

Oh, and not for nothing, but see the letters on her cap? She was a fan way back when they were the real Giants, playing their home games at the Polo Grounds in Harlem.

Of her favorite player, she once said, “There have been only two geniuses in the world. Willie Mays and Willie Shakespeare. But, dahling, I think you’d better put Shakespeare first.” Oh sure. But guess which one she wrote an article for Look magazine about?

“Even when he strikes out, he can put on a show,” she wrote, sounding every inch the smitten fan. “In the terms of my trade, Willie lifts the mortgage five minutes before the curtain falls.  He rescues the heroine from the railroad tracks just as she’s about to be sliced up by the midnight express.  He routs the villain when all seems lost.”

Years later, she happily hollered out his name, “Willieee! Willieeee!” when introducing him on The Merv Griffin Show:

Tallulah once even slipped into a Giants uniform herself—but with bedazzled letters and a jauntily tilted cap, of course.

bankhead-baseball-3

So this spring, as you settle in on the sofa to root for your favorite team, raise a glass—or even a fabulous pump—to Miss Bankhead. Or do it her way, with a shoe in one hand and a goblet in the other. Cheers, Tallu!

bankhead3

TINTYPE TUESDAY is a regular feature on Sister Celluloid, with fabulous classic movie pix (and usually some backstory!) to help you make it to Hump Day! For previous editions, just click hereand why not bookmark the page, to make sure you never miss a week?

4 Comments

  1. Coincidentally, the local cinephile society (I’m a member) is showing Devil and the Deep with Tallulah, Gary Cooper, Charles Laughton and Cary Grant next week. It was on TV when I was a kid, but of course I was too young to understand it. I’m curious to know whether you’ve seen it and, if so, what you thought. In the meantime, thanks again.

    • It strained my credulity that she’d be married to Laughton, but I liked it!! Very Pre-Code all over!! Glad you liked Tallulah at the ballgame… 🙂

  2. Andy M

    Thanks very much for reminding me of a Tallulah story I heard from a WWII Veteran in a VA Hospital (where I still Volunteer) back in the 1990s. His name was Harry. I don’t think he was a full-time chauffer but he used to drive Tallulah to the airport on a somewhat regular basis, possibly when she was on What’s My Line. As he was pulling up to her front door on one occasion, she opened an upstairs window and called down to him, “Harry! Are you sober?” “Yes, Miss Bankhead.” “Well, you’re not driving me to the airport in THAT condition. Come in here and have a drink.”

    Lifeboat is my favorite of hers. Another reason I admired her is that, in the early 50s, when my age was in single digits but hers was only 2 years less that the calendar year, she apparently loved Kukla Fran and Ollie as much as I did.

  3. Oh Ms. Tintype, the things you know! I’ve long been a Tallu fan, but I never knew about her obsession with baseball. And “Lifeboat” is my fave Tallulah movie, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: