In 1951, Time magazine published a report of Tallulah Bankhead's press conference at the Ritz Hotel, London, under the title ‘Woman at Work’.
Tallulah swept in, dressed in a sleek black dress, and called for a champagne cocktail. When it appeared, she hopped upon the nearest chair, poured the champagne into her black suede shoe [size four) and drank a toast. Shouted Tallulah: 'Winston Churchill is my God, and I'm just mad about England. I mean Britain. I love you all like crazy.' Then she hopped down, tapped the nearest waiter four times and said, "Darling, bring me a drink." As other waiters scurried to be of service, she cautioned the cameramen: "Don’t shoot me grinning. I look like the Cheshire cat.” As she answered reporters' questions she pleaded: "Don’t say I’m gracious and charming. You'll ruin my reputation.” For the benefit of a middle aged overwhelmed reporter who had kissed her hand, she graciously jiggled through the Charleston until her stockings began to sag… One waiter muttered in stark wonder: 'Nothing like this has ever happened here before.'
Before the Rat Pack, before Elvis, Tallulah had Las Vegas at her feet. Performing in a cabaret at the Sands Hotel, she name-checked Dorothy Parker: “Did I ever tell you, darlings, that the divine Miss Parker was into horticulture? She told me only the other day 'You can lead a whore to culture, but you sure as hell can’t make her drink!’”
Claiming that if she had to live her life again she'd make the same mistakes only sooner, she revelled in her wild ways. Tallulah Bankhead died in 1968, aged 66, of pneumonia, caught by wandering nude around her dressing room in a Philadelphia theatre. Her last words were, 'codeine, bourbon.'
Upon leaving rehab in early 2008, dishevelled soul diva Amy Winehouse checked in to an executive suite at London's Riverbank Plaza hotel. Two weeks later, while Winehouse was performing at the Brit Awards, hotel staff entered the room to a scene worthy of the most riotous of rock bands.
Champagne bottles, cigarette butts and dirty knickers fought for floor space, while the blackened bath displayed evidence of a beehive-dyeing session-it had to be scrubbed and unblocked. A large mirror had been taken off the wall and placed on the floor for purposes unknown. The hotel described the scene as "carnage” and said that it took three maids two hours to get the room in a habitable order.