I’m as Pure as the Driven Slush

Tallulah Bankhead? Joan Collins? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Two vibrant actresses have been connected to a satirical statement about purity: Tallulah Bankhead and Joan Collins. I think that the statement was made as a humorous self-description. But it may have been made as a criticism. Here are two versions:

I’m as pure as the driven slush.
She is as pure as the driven slush.

Could you explore this saying?

Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence located by QI appeared in the widely-distributed syndicated column of Walter Winchell in 1941: 1 2

Tallulah, however, is still indifferent to what others think and say of her. As indifferent as she was a dozen seasons ago when a prudish interviewer asked: “Would you call yourself a pure woman?” “Yes,” said Bankhead, “I’m as pure as the driven slush.”

In 1947 The Saturday Evening Post published a seven page profile of Tallulah Bankhead with the title “Alabama Tornado” by Maurice Zolotow. The quotation was repeated in the article, but it was not spoken during the interview: 3 4 5

Secretly, she is pleased with her largely unfounded reputation as one of the wickedest women of the age. She once cracked, “I’m as pure as the driven slush.”

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading I’m as Pure as the Driven Slush


  1. 1941 September 3, Tucson Daily Citizen, Walter Winchell On Broadway, Quote Page 4, Column 2, Tucson, Arizona. (NewspaperArchive)
  2. 1941 September 3, Omaha World Herald, Walter Winchell On Broadway, Quote Page 6, Column 5, Omaha, Nebraska. (GenealogyBank)
  3. 1947 April 12, Saturday Evening Post, Volume 219, Issue 41, Alabama Tornado by Maurice Zolotow, Start Page 15, Quote Page 17, Column 1, Saturday Evening Post Society, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana. (Academic Search Premier EBSCO)
  4. Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Edited by Elizabeth Knowles, Entry: Tallulah Bankhead, Oxford University Press. (Accessed Oxford Reference Online on September 10, 2011)
  5. 2006, The Yale Book of Quotations by Fred R. Shapiro, Section: Tallulah Bankhead, Page 43, Yale University Press, New Haven. (Verified on paper)