The Grand Flourish


Tallulah Bankhead

You’ve got to admire a woman who can pull off the grand flourish. She was without equal in her day, the quintessential dame, known for her signature “dah-ling,” her notorious peccadilloes and her endlessly caricaturized baritonal gurgle of a voice. So notable was her reputation, she went by one name: Tallulah.

Stories on her abound, more inflamed and outrageous than the next. This, one of my favorite’s, appeared in Gerald Clarke’s biography on that other master of the grand flourish, Truman Capote.

She came by Capricorn (Mount Kisco) once when Truman was there visiting friends and shocked the neighborhood with her flamboyance. Wilted by the heat, the whole party moved to a cooler house nearby, where the hostess, offering them bathing suits, invited them for a swim in her pool.

“I never wear a suit,” declared Tallulah, who, good as her word, was soon standing on the diving board dressed in nothing but her pearls. Everybody, particularly the teenage boys, looked on with open mouths.

But it was a typical Tallulah scene, down to the fact that her chauffeur had to go back later and fish the pearls out of the water.

When I asked her why she had done it, she said, “I just wanted to prove that I was natural ash blonde.”


Capote: A Biography




~ by eaesthete on 03/20/09.

One Response to “The Grand Flourish”

  1. Gorgeous photo. And the story was perfect “standing on the diving board dressed in nothing but her pearls.”

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