Past Imperfect

Past Imperfect – #547

Tallulah was thoroughly unimpressed with her assigned role when the cast was announced for the 1926 London premiere of “A Yankee Thanksgiving: This Is What Happens When You Defy a British Monarch and Hop on a Boat Bound for a Colony That Has No Indoor Plumbing”. The play folded within two days.

Luckily, Tallulah did not. She marched into her agent’s office the next morning. “Explain to me at once why I shouldn’t fire you.”

Agent: “Why are you still wearing that headdress? One would think you would have moved on by now. Everyone else has.”

Tallulah: “It’s no concern of yours what I do in my personal life. Stop avoiding the question. Why can’t you get me better parts?”

Agent, hesitant: “Well, perhaps it’s time we talked about your name.”

Tallulah: “What on earth has that got to do with anything? And why aren’t you offering me a glass of bourbon?”

Agent: “Because it’s nine o’clock in the morning and your liver needs to sleep at some point. And Tallulah Bankhead sounds like a military maneuver in Polynesia, not the name of an actress that someone would want to hire.”

Tallulah, exasperated: “God, you British are just so annoyingly particular. Why can’t you get me a job in America?”

Agent, suddenly inspired, shuffling papers: “Well, now that you mention it, there’s a movie called ‘Wings’ that will start filming soon in Hollywood. It’s about fighter pilots in the Great War and it stars Clara Bow. The producers just sent out a notice that they are looking for something special.”

Tallulah: “Clara Bow? That sounds like something I need to be in, even if Clara’s hairdo annoys the hell out of me. Tell me more about my character. Will I be one of the stars?”

Agent: “No, it’s not quite that. Something a bit smaller.”

Tallulah: “A featured role, perhaps? Something where I steal the movie with just a few scenes?”

Agent: “Well, you will be featured. But you don’t have any lines.”

Tallulah: “I don’t understand. What exactly does the notice say?”

Agent: “It seems they rented a vintage plane for the aerial combat scenes, but the plane is missing one of its propellers.”

Tallulah: “Are you saying…”

Agent: “They want you to help fly the plane. Literally. Do you mind being oiled up and attached to a heavy motor?”

Tallulah: “Apparently you haven’t seen me on a Saturday night. How much does it pay?”


Previously published, slight changes made. Sadly, Tallulah was never cast in the movie, as she and her headdress were unable to get through Customs in a timely manner…

Additional note based on some of the comments from the previous share: Tallulah Bankhead WAS an actual actress, and a rather notorious one at that. I did not make the name up, despite my known proclivity for whimsical appellations.

Here we go with some deep trivia, so you can skip this part if such doesn’t appeal to you: The photo IS from a London stage production that featured Tallulah, but the play was named “The Dancers”, and it premiered in 1923, not 1926. (I messed with the date so I could better tie it in with the movie “Wings”, released in 1927.) One of the playwrights of “The Dancers”? Gerald du Maurier. He was the father of Daphne du Maurier, and she went on to write (among many fine things) a short story that Alfred Hitchcock used as the basis for his movie, “The Birds”. Which brings us right back to our feathery opening photo…


26 replies »

  1. Great trivia about du Maurier, Hitch and ‘The Birds’ As for Tallulah she had less of the ‘It’ look than an ‘Ick’ look She also seems to be suffering from the strangest Icarus Complex ever seen.
    The good Tallulah did have a well-earned rep for, ahem, being up for a bit of a snuggle in the eiderdown. Here, the incipient wink of her right eye suggests she may be feeling coquettishly pluckable too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Alas, poor Icarus, I knew him well. I once tried to fly to the sun, too, but it turned out to be a neon sign above an old movie theater showing vintage black and whites.

      As for The Eiderdown Urge, I must confess to having the same predilection in my salad days. And I happily would have worn a headdress if it meant I might get more salad…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love trivia like that! That look on her face really does scream “What in the actual Fuck is this stupid headdress, and do I really have to wear it?”

    Or maybe she was just way too ahead of her time and she was headed to Coachella to offend some people. 🤷🏼‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just LOVE me some meandering trivia. There’s just something satisfying about fascinating but useless information…

      I believe you have captured Tallulah’s expression perfectly. And if you review any of my childhood photos, you will see me sporting that same expression in most of the shots…

      Liked by 1 person

    • I took a gander at the article, shaking my head the entire time. But then I giggled away at the bit where we find out that the girl was telling everyone her name was “K”. I don’t know why I found that funny, but it amused me greatly…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love it when things tie themselves up in a tidy fashion (unlike that headdress). The seamless circle of blog you illustrated in your opening and closing lines was par excellence! Tallulah? Now that girl HAD to be Southern…’cause that’s the only place I’ve ever heard it utilized. I’m not poking any fun mind you. Naming children AND small towns things like Panaquin and Nephi, Hercker and Abinidai (to name a few) is Utah’s signature. But ‘Bankhead?” What was the woman thinking?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Tallulah was definitely Southern. But she tried to wash that mess out of her hair by moving to London as soon as she could.

      Did I ever share the tale of my friend “Sanita”? As she tells it, the name came to her father whilst he was at an A&W Root Beer drive-up. (Remember those?) He was taking the white paper off his straw when his thumb happened to cover up part of the “Sanitary Wrapper” phrase, leaving just “Sanita”. He was inspired, the wife agreed, and there you have it…


  4. Are those turkey feathers? The best possible hat a woman can wear to a Yankee Thanksgiving. LOL. Now I am curious to know the plot of this play or this movie. Wait, wait, don’t tell me. I think I see the connection between the feather hat and the propeller of the vintage plane.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure of the exact nature of the feathers, but I do agree that the chapeau is a splendid choice for a Yankee Thanksgiving. (It doesn’t appear that Tallulah agrees, however. She looks very unimpressed.) So far, I have been unable to find information concerning the actual plot of the play “The Dancers”, only that the show was a smash success. As for the movie “Wings”, it really is about fighter pilots in World War I. And it was the first movie to win an Academy Award for Best Picture…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is what happens when I get so behind in my blog-reading. I was all set to riff on parents who name their children ridiculous names, but LeggyPeggy stole my thunder. Darn it all.
    Not that Tallulah Bankhead had any issues with having an unusual name or anything else. For having such a kewpie doll face, her exploits are quite remarkable!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I certainly sympathize with getting behind on the blog-reading. By the time I get around to certain posts, all of the really witty and clever responses have already been proffered, and I’m left with meager rehashes of what has already been said. But at the end of the day, I do finally make it there and hopefully that’s good enough…

      As for Tallulah, I actually think she lived up to her name quite nicely…

      Liked by 1 person

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