Who was she:
At 15, Tallulah Bankhead won a movie-magazine beauty contest & convinced her family to let her move to New York. She quickly won bit parts, and made her major role debut at 18.
In 1923, she made her debut on the London stage, where she was to appear in over a dozen plays in the next eight years. Famous as an actress, she was famous, too, for her drinking, drug taking, and many affairs with men and women. By the end of the decade, she was one of England's best known actresses.
She returned to US in 1931 to be Paramount Picture's "next Marlene Dietrich", but Hollywood success eluded her. Her screen test for "Gone with the Wind" put her out of the running for good.
Her career was in decline by the mid-1950s. Her outrageous behavior -- fueled by a two-bottle-a-day consumption of Old Grand Dad -- continued unabated. Bankhead never faded from the public eye, but was increasingly a caricature of her former self.
Why is she a gay icon: Her openly bisexual behavior and party girl personality drew much attention.