Bankhead, an actress whose career carried her between Britain and the United States, was as well known for her outlandish spectacles offstage as on. She starred in a number of well-received theater and film productions, winning several awards and landing a role in an Alfred Hitchcock production. She was nearly cast to play Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind but was turned down due to age (at the time she was twenty years older than the character) and poor results being photographed in Technicolor.
Bankhead’s less-than-private life was characterized by outrageous quotes and sexually provocative stunts, and were reportedly fueled by the consumption of over 100 cigarettes per day. When she was asked after a skinny dipping episode with a pack of fellow celebrities why she had opted for nudity, she replied, “I just wanted to prove that I was a natural ash blonde.” She was known to sleep with both men and women, and although she never used the word bisexual, she did describe herself as “ambisextrous”.