Renowned for her sultry voice and languorous sophistication, Tallulah Bankhead exuded magnetism—“a remarkable personality with a remarkable name,” to one enchanted critic. She performed not only in America but on the London stage, where she was painted by Augustus John: “At the time, I was the toast of London and that was some toast, dahling.” She twice won the New York Drama Critics Award, as Regina in The Little Foxes in 1939, and as Sabina in The Skin of Our Teeth in 1942. In the late 1940s, Time magazine called her “the theater’s first personality.” But her career spanned the media as well: in Hollywood, she notably starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944); on radio—billed as “the glamorous, unpredictable Tallulah Bankhead”—she emceed NBC’s Sunday-night The Big Show (1950–51). On television, she co-hosted All Star Review and was a popular guest on I Love Lucy and The Jack Benny Show.
The sitter until her death; (Coe Kerr Gallery, New York); John Hay Whitney and Mrs. Whitney; gift 1969 to NPG.