Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Belle of Pound Ridge

The legendary Tallulah Bankhead was the talk of the town



The splashy star in reflection by the pool.

To everyone in the free world, she was simply called Tallulah. The voice was unmistakable, steeped in bourbon with notes of cello and a smoky, gravel finish; the laugh, a rollicking contagion of cannonball fire. Her remarkable beauty, framed by a cascading golden mane was captured by glittering notables from yesteryear such as Cecil Beaton and George Hurrell. And once upon a time, when Tallulah moved to Pound Ridge, the celebrity-filled, booze-fueled parties rarely stopped. 

Tallulah who? Bankhead, naturally. Long before Cher and Madonna, Tallulah made a singular name for herself, known as a great actress and the grandest of dames whose freewheeling antics offstage (with the occasional inspired cartwheel onstage) sometimes muddied the striking depths of her performances. Hailing from a prominent political family in Alabama, she first found international fame across the pond. The furor she created in ’20s London was only rivaled years later by Sinatra, stateside. The gallery girls, an unusually devoted stream of clamoring adolescent fans poured in and out of West End theaters to see their Tallulah.

She tangled with Hollywood and the formidable MGM head Louis B. Mayer, but her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat proved to be her best film performance and well-timed too: she used the money to continue work on her Tudor-style country house, namely a major dig for well water roughly 300 yards from the house and down a number of fathoms. Of course, Ms. Bankhead required a pool, the hangover-inducing installation of which cost over $100,000—at the time the whole 18-acres had sold for $25,000.

Bankhead moved into Pound Ridge in the early ’40s on the heels of her greatest Broadway triumph in The Little Foxes. The further success of The Skin of Our Teeth secured the purchase. She had only ever staked out hotel suites or rentals such as her London townhouse, The Garden of Allah in Hollywood, or the early years at the Algonquin in New York, pitting wits with the storied Round Table. She had the freedom now to parade her black panther down the sweeping private driveway to check the day’s mail, but it remained imperative to Bankhead that all visitors be announced—she planted signs along the driveway that currently convey the same message, “Blow Your Horn.” After all, she needed fair warning to either put some clothes on or take them off, depending. 

The bucolic idyll that Bankhead christened Windows boasts 70 of them but as she confesses in her delicious autobiography, Tallulah, the clear panes reflected the idea that her life was an open book. Much of the Louis XV furniture, Italian pieces, French provincials, and the fine collection of canvases and lithographs came from her glory days in London. Bankhead flooded the grounds with 5,000 daffodils, pink and white dogwood, rose bushes, and blushing peonies. Her vegetable garden sprouted “chives for the vichyssoise and mint for the juleps.”   

The chestnut tree she planted that was purported to sport pink flowers and bloomed white instead still stands, and the long term current owners maintain the lilies of the valley as well, which Bankhead planted in tribute to her birth flower. She laments in Tallulah that the climate was too hostile to raise a Southern magnolia, however. The owners’ changes to the house concerned only converting the three-car garage to a warmly wooded den, painting, and decorating. They also dispensed with what had been essentially a large barroom upstairs in favor of two capacious guest bedrooms.

(Photo left: Windows, Bankhead’s Tudor-style home today.)

In the early ’50s, Bankhead continued the commute, huskily breathing new life into radio with “The Big Show.” Fuzzy home movies on YouTube from that era reveal a different, private side of the actress, beaming over her godchild Brook Ashley and frolicking with her moppy dogs in the backyard—but Ashley remembers the excitement too. “Even a fire simply moved the celebration onto the lawn,” she says. Incidentally, an agreeable spot on the lawn was found years later, so a Southern magnolia tree could finally raise its pale, waxy blossoms.

Tallulah Bankhead was every inch a star and above all else, a lady. She may have left Pound Ridge just over 60 years ago, but a pair of soaring red-tailed hawks currently supervise the peaceful grounds and gusts of wind extend their welcome. It’s almost possible to picture the famous shadows shimmering across the greensward, like ghost moths bewitched by a cocktail moon, dissolving into celluloid honey—with Bankhead among them, turning cartwheels.

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

             

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Catch the Vibe Newsletter

See this weekend's events in the area!
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Bedford Shoutouts Nov-Dec 2017

This, that and the other things

Take 5: Stylist Tips

Creating a wardrobe you’ll love

Ten Minutes with Terry Elsberry

A man of the Lord

Bedford Out & About - Nov & Dec

I Love a Parade!

Katonah Halloween Parade

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

November 2017

Isabelle SCHELTJENS portraits in glass are simply put – beautiful.  Their effect is a candied aesthetic, shimmering with light and buoyant energy.   They exist as a compelling...

Cost: Free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

Calling all tech enthusiasts, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science club members, authors, artists, students, entrepreneurs, crafter, and makers of any kind—join us this November for the...

Cost: Free to attend

Where:
varies
, CT


Website »

More information

The Pound Ridge Historical Society will open “Modern in Pound Ridge: 20th Century Architecture + Lifestyle” at the Pound Ridge Museum on April 23, 2017. This is a real departure for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Museum
255 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Historical Society
Telephone: 914-764-4333
Website »

More information

The tri-state area’s biggest, most electrifying fall event returns with more pumpkin power than ever before! Meander through an historic, 18th century riverside landscape and discover a...

Where:
Van Cortlandt Manor
For GPS: Use 525 S Riverside
Croton-on-Hudson, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Isabelle SCHELTJENS portraits in glass are simply put – beautiful.  Their effect is a candied aesthetic, shimmering with light and buoyant energy.   They exist as a compelling...

Cost: Free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

The Pound Ridge Historical Society will open “Modern in Pound Ridge: 20th Century Architecture + Lifestyle” at the Pound Ridge Museum on April 23, 2017. This is a real departure for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Museum
255 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Historical Society
Telephone: 914-764-4333
Website »

More information

The tri-state area’s biggest, most electrifying fall event returns with more pumpkin power than ever before! Meander through an historic, 18th century riverside landscape and discover a...

Where:
Van Cortlandt Manor
For GPS: Use 525 S Riverside
Croton-on-Hudson, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Isabelle SCHELTJENS portraits in glass are simply put – beautiful.  Their effect is a candied aesthetic, shimmering with light and buoyant energy.   They exist as a compelling...

Cost: Free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

The Pound Ridge Historical Society will open “Modern in Pound Ridge: 20th Century Architecture + Lifestyle” at the Pound Ridge Museum on April 23, 2017. This is a real departure for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Museum
255 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Historical Society
Telephone: 914-764-4333
Website »

More information

The tri-state area’s biggest, most electrifying fall event returns with more pumpkin power than ever before! Meander through an historic, 18th century riverside landscape and discover a...

Where:
Van Cortlandt Manor
For GPS: Use 525 S Riverside
Croton-on-Hudson, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Isabelle SCHELTJENS portraits in glass are simply put – beautiful.  Their effect is a candied aesthetic, shimmering with light and buoyant energy.   They exist as a compelling...

Cost: Free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

The Pound Ridge Historical Society will open “Modern in Pound Ridge: 20th Century Architecture + Lifestyle” at the Pound Ridge Museum on April 23, 2017. This is a real departure for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Museum
255 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Historical Society
Telephone: 914-764-4333
Website »

More information

Join us for a FREE lecture! In the U.S. today, over 40 million men and women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis or osteopenia.  Whatever your age, the habits you adopt now can affect your...

Cost: Free

Where:
HSS Stamford Outpatient Center
1 Blachley Road
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Sponsor: HSS
Telephone: 203-705-2956
Contact Name: Pamela Villagomez
Website »

More information

The tri-state area’s biggest, most electrifying fall event returns with more pumpkin power than ever before! Meander through an historic, 18th century riverside landscape and discover a...

Where:
Van Cortlandt Manor
For GPS: Use 525 S Riverside
Croton-on-Hudson, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Isabelle SCHELTJENS portraits in glass are simply put – beautiful.  Their effect is a candied aesthetic, shimmering with light and buoyant energy.   They exist as a compelling...

Cost: Free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

914INC. will host its annual Women in Business Luncheon, to be held in conjunction with the magazine's Q4 issue, showcasing leading area businesswomen...

Cost: $85

Where:
DoubleTree by Hilton
455 South Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Westchester Magazine
Telephone: 914-345-0601
Contact Name: Jen D'Ambrosio
Website »

More information

The Pound Ridge Historical Society will open “Modern in Pound Ridge: 20th Century Architecture + Lifestyle” at the Pound Ridge Museum on April 23, 2017. This is a real departure for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Museum
255 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Historical Society
Telephone: 914-764-4333
Website »

More information

The tri-state area’s biggest, most electrifying fall event returns with more pumpkin power than ever before! Meander through an historic, 18th century riverside landscape and discover a...

Where:
Van Cortlandt Manor
For GPS: Use 525 S Riverside
Croton-on-Hudson, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Isabelle SCHELTJENS portraits in glass are simply put – beautiful.  Their effect is a candied aesthetic, shimmering with light and buoyant energy.   They exist as a compelling...

Cost: Free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

The Pound Ridge Historical Society will open “Modern in Pound Ridge: 20th Century Architecture + Lifestyle” at the Pound Ridge Museum on April 23, 2017. This is a real departure for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Museum
255 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Historical Society
Telephone: 914-764-4333
Website »

More information

Music on the Hill presents a concert in tune with the changing seasons, performed by 12 pro singers with Ellen Dickinson, conductor, David H. Connell, piano, and Carolyn Engle, cello....

Cost: $20 in advance, $25 at the door; students free

Where:
Wilton Presbyterian Church
48 New Canaan Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Music on the Hill
Telephone: 203-529-3133
Contact Name: Music on the Hill
Website »

More information

The tri-state area’s biggest, most electrifying fall event returns with more pumpkin power than ever before! Meander through an historic, 18th century riverside landscape and discover a...

Where:
Van Cortlandt Manor
For GPS: Use 525 S Riverside
Croton-on-Hudson, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Stroller tours at the KMA are a unique opportunity to connect with other new parents and caregivers seeking culturally enriching activities to share with their babies. These once-a-month...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Katonah Museum of Art
134 Jay Street
Katonah, NY  10536
View map »


Website »

More information

Clay Art Center One-Time Cladies Night for Adults Interested in Learning to Use the Potter’s Wheel Looking to get your hands dirty and learn how to use the potter’s wheel? Try Clay...

Cost: $50

Where:
Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, NY  10573
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Isabelle SCHELTJENS portraits in glass are simply put – beautiful.  Their effect is a candied aesthetic, shimmering with light and buoyant energy.   They exist as a compelling...

Cost: Free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. Come explore the intersection of these topics with a day of interactive workshops for kids and teens kindergarten and older....

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

The Pound Ridge Historical Society will open “Modern in Pound Ridge: 20th Century Architecture + Lifestyle” at the Pound Ridge Museum on April 23, 2017. This is a real departure for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pound Ridge Museum
255 Westchester Ave
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Pound Ridge Historical Society
Telephone: 914-764-4333
Website »

More information

FATS ~ SUGAR ~ SALT: HELPFUL OR HARMFUL? All three of these have been maligned for decades. But are they all harmful? Might there be some benefits to including them in your diet? Come...

Cost: Free

Where:
Dr. Kaushik's Ayurvedic and Naturopathic Clinic
792 Route 35
Yellow Monkey Village
Cross River, NY  10518
View map »


Sponsor: Dr. Somesh N. Kaushik
Telephone: 914-875-9088
Contact Name: Dr. Somesh N. Kaushik
Website »

More information

The tri-state area’s biggest, most electrifying fall event returns with more pumpkin power than ever before! Meander through an historic, 18th century riverside landscape and discover a...

Where:
Van Cortlandt Manor
For GPS: Use 525 S Riverside
Croton-on-Hudson, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags