August 2022

Page A34 August 2022 FUNERAL HOME & CEMETERY NEWS Se c t i on A Jim Kurtz Alice Adams Appropriate to Greatness: Caskets of the Rich and Famous Written, researched and photographed by Alice Adams and Jim Kurtz There have been many good books written about the deaths of the rich and famous. However, none have taken the viewpoint of the funeral service professional or cemeterian. In this series, we hope to accomplish exactly that with the little-known details, obscure facts and citations we have found in our research. We’re excited to share our findings. An award-winning writer, Alice Adams has chronicled the men and women in funeral service for more than two decades. “My goal has always been to recognize funeral directors and cemeterians who selflessly assist families during times of their darkest grief,” she said. Since 2018, Alice has teamed with fellow historian and photographer Jim Kurtz to tracing the much ignored and neglected beginnings of the funeral service profession. Adams resides in Dripping Springs, Texas, where she enjoys her children, four grandchildren, Cassie, the Black Lab and two cats – all three rescues. Jim Kurtz has been a funeral director in Texas since 1973 and is president of TFDA’s North Texas Region. He is a historian and educator, he founded the Jim Kurtz Museum of Funeral History and archives in Dallas, Texas. F U N E R A L H O M E & C E M E T E R Y N E W S w w w . N o m i s P u b l i c a t i o n s . c o m Monthly Columnsonline at Tallulah Brockman Bankhead was a notoriously flamboyant and often scandalous American stage and screen actress, born into the well-known Bankhead and Brockman families, both politically powerful and prominent in Alabama. “Tallu” was named after her paternal grandmother, who was named after Tallulah Falls, Georgia. Her grandfather and her uncle were both US Senators, while her father served 11 terms in the US House of Representatives, the final two as Speaker of the House. Tallulah was born in Huntsville, Alabama in her family’s apartment on the second floor of what is now the Isaac Schiffman Building. Three weeks after Bankhead’s birth, her mother died of sepsis, causing Tallulah and older sister, Eugenia, to be raised by their affluent grandparents at the Bankhead estate, called “Sunrise,” in Jasper, Alabama. Tallulah Brockman Bankhead Born January 31, 1902 Huntsville, Alabama Died December 12, 1968 New York, New York Arriving in New York, Bankhead discovered her contest win was fleeting: she was paid $75 for three weeks’ work on Who Loved Him Best in a minor part. But she quickly found her niche in New York City and moved to the storied Algonquin Hotel, a hotspot for the artistic and literary elite. The Algonquin’s wild parties introduced Bankhead to cocaine and marijuana, about which she later remarked, “Cocaine isn’t habit-forming. I know because I’ve been taking it for years.” In 1919, after roles in other silent films, Bankhead made her stage debut at New York’s Bijou Theatre and soon realized her place was on stage. However, after several stage roles without significant success, Tallulah moved to London in 1922. In 1923, she made her debut on the London stage and appeared in a dozen plays in London over the next eight years. She assured her fame as a stage actress in 1924 when she appeared in Sidney Howard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning, They KnewWhat TheyWanted. After eight years in London, Bankhead returned to the United States. Her first film was Tarnished Lady (1931). She found filmmaking boring, but the opportunity to make $50,000 per film was too good to pass up. In the 1932 movie, Devil and the Deep, Bankhead received top billing over Gary Cooper, Charles Laughton, and Cary Grant. Later, Bankhead starred opposite Robert Montgomery in Faithless. Returning to Broadway, Bankhead worked steadily. While performing in Jezebel, she nearly died following an emergency hysterectomy due to gonorrhea (which she claimed came from either Gary Cooper or George Raft). Her brilliant portrayal of the ruthless Regina Giddens in Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes won her Variety magazine’s Best Actress of the Year in 1939. Bankhead’s performance was lauded as “one of the most electrifying in American theater history.”Tallulah said later that Regina was “the best role I ever had.” Bankhead earned another Variety award and the New York Drama Critics’ Award for Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth, in which Bankhead played Sabina, the temptress housekeeper. About her work inWilder’s classic, the NewYork Sun wrote, “Her portrayal of Sabina has comedy and passion. How she contrives both, almost at the same time, is a mystery.” In 1944, Alfred Hitchcock cast her as journalist Constance Porter in her most successful film, both critically and commercially, Lifeboat. A beaming Bankhead accepted her New York Film Critics Circle award, exclaiming, “Dahlings, I was wonderful!” Bankhead was an avid New York Giants fan. This was evident in one of her famous quotes: “There have been only two geniuses in the world, Willie Mays and Willie Shakespeare. But, dahling, I think you’d better put Shakespeare first.” Although she never had children of her own, Tallulah supported foster children and helped families escape the Spanish Civil War and World War II. She was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1972, and Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1981. During her career, she amassed a portfolio of more than 300 film, stage, television and radio performances. Yet, Tallulah’s personal life was quite the opposite of her success. She struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction, smoked 120 cigarettes daily and spoke openly about her vices. She had a series of relationships with both men and women, and while she never publicly used the term “bisexual” to describe herself, her preferred term was “ambisextrous.” Actor John Emery, to whom Tallulah was briefly married in her early Hollywood days, said years later that he was “still recuperating.” He said, “She is the only woman I ever knew who could carry on a conversation, listen to the radio, read a book and do her hair at the same time.” Once battling laryngitis, she told an interviewer she had been ordered not to smoke. Lighting a cigarette, she added: “I’m not supposed to talk either, but you know how impossible that would be for me, dahling.” Bankhead was stricken with Hong Kong Flu during the epidemic of 1968 and, while at St. Luke’s Hospital inNewYork City, “Just Call Me Tallulah, Dahling!” Sunset, the Bankhead Family Estate Tallulah’s sister Eugenia and Eugenia’s son William pay their respects at her service Tallulah Bankhead’s famously husky voice was the result of chronic bronchitis in childhood. She was a performer and an exhibitionist from the beginning, discovering that theatrics gained the attention she craved. In 1912, both girls were enrolled in the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Manhattanville, New York. Eugenia was 11 and Tallulah was 10. At 15, Bankhead submitted her photo but forgot to send her name to a Picture Play contest, which promised a trip to New York plus a movie part to 12 winners based on their photographs. Bankhead only learned she was one of the winners while browsing the magazine at a local drugstore. Her father, Congressman Bankhead, sent a letter to the magazine with a duplicate photo. Tallulah with her father, then Speaker of the House contracted pneumonia, complicated by emphysema. She died on Thursday, December 12 at 7:45 a.m. She was 65. On December 14, 1968, St. Paul’s Kent Episcopal Church in Rock Hall, Maryland, held a private funeral under the direction of Frank E. Campbell’s with interment in the adjacent cemetery. Her casket was a round-corner, mahogany covered with Chrysanthemums. The grave is marked with a threequarter stone at St. Paul’s Cemetery NEWS Association CONTINUED Green Funeral Conference Returns in September 2022! WHEELING,IL— Your eco-conscious families are growing in number, and there’s no single, right way to serve them. Finding attractive options for your families and your business can leave you with a lot of questions and ideas, but not a lot of solutions and plans. Join the Cremation Association of North American (CANA) and Passages International for the Green Funeral Conference 2022 in September 13-15 in Albuquerque, NM. “Since everyone is at a different point the green spectrum – under different regulations and serving different communities – we’ll be working together to learn and do better,” says CANA executive director Barbara Kemmis. “The magic of the first Green Continued on page A35 Funeral Conference in 2019 was the connection between the participants. We’re recapturing that experience this year with a focus on interaction. Each session is designed to spark ideas and conversation.” A highly collaborative event, the conference features panels, demonstrations, roundtables, and workshops to let attendees participate and respond to share their ideas and challenges. Anyone who is leading their company’s initiatives in green practices and curious to learn what colleagues across the profession are doing is encouraged to attend. Sessions will focus on emerging trends in sustainable practices, natural burial practices in dedicated, hybrid @Nomis.Publ ications Like us on