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Lana Turner

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Title: Lana Turner  
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Subject: Peyton Place (film), The Sea Chase, Green Dolphin Street, Homecoming (1948 film), Ziegfeld Girl (film)
Collection: 1921 Births, 1995 Deaths, 20Th-Century American Actresses, Actresses from Idaho, Actresses from Los Angeles, California, American Christians, American Film Actresses, American Memoirists, American People of Dutch Descent, American People of English Descent, American People of Irish Descent, American People of Scottish Descent, American Radio Actresses, American Roman Catholics, American Stage Actresses, American Television Actresses, Cancer Deaths in California, Converts to Roman Catholicism, Converts to Roman Catholicism from Protestantism, David Di Donatello Winners, Deaths from Esophageal Cancer, Hollywood High School Alumni, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Contract Players, People from Wallace, Idaho
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Lana Turner

Lana Turner
Turner in a publicity photo for Slightly Dangerous (1943)
Born Julia Jean Turner[1][2]
(1921-02-08)February 8, 1921
Wallace, Idaho, U.S.
Died June 29, 1995(1995-06-29) (aged 74)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Throat cancer
Nationality American
Education Hollywood High School
Occupation Actress
Years active 1937–85
Religion Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Artie Shaw (m. 1939; div. 1940)
Joseph Stephen Crane (m. 1942; div. 1943)
Joseph Stephen Crane (m. 1943; div. 1944)
Henry J. Topping (m. 1948; div. 1952)
Lex Barker (m. 1953; div. 1957)
Fred May (m. 1960; div. 1962)
Robert Eaton (m. 1965; div. 1969)
Ronald Dante (m. 1969; div. 1972)
Children Cheryl Crane (born 1943)

Lana Turner (born Julia Jean Turner;[1] February 8, 1921 – June 29, 1995) was an ingenue.

During the early 1940s, she established herself as a leading actress in such films as Johnny Eager (1941), Honky Tonk (1941), Ziegfeld Girl (1941), and Somewhere I'll Find You (1942). She appeared in the 1941 horror film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and her reputation as a glamorous femme fatale was enhanced by her performance in the film noir The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). Her popularity continued through the 1950s, in such films as The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) and Peyton Place (1957), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Media controversy surrounded Turner in 1958 when her daughter, Cheryl Crane, stabbed Turner's lover Johnny Stompanato to death in their Beverly Hills home; a coroner's inquest concluded that Crane had acted in self-defense. Turner's next film, Imitation of Life (1959), proved to be one of the greatest successes of her career, but from the early 1960s, her roles were fewer. Turner spent most of the 1970s and early 1980s in semiretirement, only working occasionally. In 1982, she accepted a much publicized and lucrative recurring guest role in the television series Falcon Crest, affording the series the highest rating it ever achieved. Turner made her final film appearance in 1985, and died from throat cancer in 1995, aged 74.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • Early years 2.1
    • Success 2.2
    • Later years 2.3
  • Personal life 3
    • Relationships 3.1
    • The Stompanato killing 3.2
  • Death 4
  • In popular culture 5
    • In literature 5.1
    • In music 5.2
  • Filmography 6
  • Radio appearances 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Early life

Turner was born in the small mining town of Wallace, Idaho.[3][4] She was the only daughter of teenaged parents, John Virgil Turner, a miner from Montgomery, Alabama (January 23, 1903 – December 14, 1930), who was 18 years old when his daughter was born, and Mildred Frances Cowan, of Lamar, Arkansas (June 19, 1904 – February 22, 1982), who was 16 years old when her daughter was born. She had Dutch, Scottish, English, and Irish ancestry.[5]

Until her film career took off, young Julia Turner was known to family and friends as "Judy". Hard times eventually forced the family to relocate to San Francisco, where her parents soon separated. On December 14, 1930, her father won some money at a traveling craps game, stuffed his winnings in his left sock, and headed for home. He was later found dead on the corner of Minnesota and Mariposa Streets,[6] on the edge of Potrero Hill and the Dogpatch District in San Francisco, his left shoe and sock missing.[7][8] The robbery and murder were never solved. Soon after, her mother developed health problems and was advised by her doctor to move to a drier climate. With her 10-year-old daughter, she moved to Los Angeles in 1931.[8]

Turner attended a Catholic church in Stockton with a local family. She converted to Catholicism taking the saints names "Mildred Frances" after her mother.[9]

Mildred and Lana were very poor, and Turner was sometimes separated from her mother, living with friends or acquaintances so the family could save money. Her mother worked 80 hours a week as a beautician to support them. After Turner was discovered, her mother became the overseer of Turner's career.[10]


Early years

Turner with Clark Gable in Honky Tonk (1941)

Turner's discovery at a Hollywood

External links

  • Crane, Cheryl; with Jahr, Cliff (1988). Detour: A Hollywood Story. Arbor House/William Morrow, New York. ISBN 0-87795-938-2.
  • Crane, Cheryl; with Cindy De La Hoz (2008). Lana: The Memories, the Myths, the Movies. Running Press, Philadelphia. ISBN 978-0-7624-3316-2.
  • Lewis, Brad (2007). Hollywood's Celebrity Gangster. The Incredible Life and Times of Mickey Cohen Enigma Books, New York. ISBN 978-1-929631-65-0.
  • Turner, Lana (1982) Lana: The Lady, the Legend, the Truth. Dutton, New York. ISBN 0-671-46986-X
  • Basinger, Jeanine (1976) Lana Turner, A Pyramid Illustrated History of the Movies. Pyramid Books, New York.

Further reading

  1. ^ a b [2]
  2. ^ Turner, Lana. Lana,The Lady, the Legend, the Truth, New York, Eltee Productions, 1982; Many erroneously record her birth name as Julia Jean Mildred Frances but in her book "Lana", Turner comments on how her age seemed to get recorded incorrectly: "...there it is on my birth certificate Julia Jean Turner, born in Wallace, Idaho, February 8, 1921".
  3. ^ Grever, Brendley (1941-05-15). "Lana Turner, Born in Wallace, Idaho, Twenty Years Ago, Now a Star". Spokane Daily Chronicle. p. 16. 
  4. ^ "Lana Turner lived in Historic Wallace". Wallace ID. Retrieved 2015-04-10. 
  5. ^ a b Turner, Lana (1982). Lana: The Lady, the Legend, the Truth. Dutton Adult. p. 11.  
  6. ^ Minnesota Street and Mariposa Street, San Francisco, CA 94158 - google maps
  7. ^ Basinger, Jeanine (1976). Lana Turner. Pyramid Publications. p. 19.
  8. ^ a b Wayne, Jane Ellen (2003). The Golden Girls of MGM: Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Lana Turner, Judy Garland, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly and Others.  
  9. ^ Lana Turner. Lana: The Lady, the Legend, the Truth. Pocket. p. 14.  
  10. ^ Fischer, Lucy (1991). Three Way Mirror: Imitation of Life. New Brunswick, New Jersey:  
  11. ^ a b Busch, Niven (December 23, 1940). "Lana Turner". Life (Time Inc) 9 (26): 63–64.  
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h "Lana Turner... a Daughter's Memoir". TCM. 2001.  
  13. ^ Morella, Joe and Epstein, Edward Z. (1971) Lana: The Public and Private Lives of Miss Turner Dell Publishing; ISBN 0-8065-0226-6
  14. ^ The Charleston Gazette, December 17, 1937, p. 4
  15. ^ "'Our Dancing Daughters' Will Star Lana Turner", Schenectady Gazette, March 28, 1940, p. 10
  16. ^ "Lana Turner Biography". Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  17. ^ "Clark Gable and Lana Turner Cast As New Hollywood Co-Starring Team" by Louella O. Parsons, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 6, 1940, p. 22
  18. ^ "The Official Lana Turner Web Site". Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  19. ^ a b c d "Imagine This, Lads; Lana Turner Asks That You Concentrate On Her Acting" by Virginia MacPherson, Toledo Blade, October 15, 1946.
  20. ^ a b "Lana Turner To Play Lead In 'Green Dolphin Street'" by Dorothy Manners, St. Petersburg Times, August 3, 1946, p. 13
  21. ^ "Notes for Cass Timberlane (1948)".  
  22. ^ "News Of The Movies" by Dorothy Manners, The San Antonio Light, August 3, 1946
  23. ^ "Cass Timberlane: Overview Article".  
  24. ^ a b "Hepburn's Screen Career Unaffected By Frankness" by Louella O. Parsons, St. Petersburg Times, August 12, 1947, p. 8
  25. ^ "Homecoming: Overview Article".  
  26. ^ "Independents Seek Shelter Of Major Studios for Cold Winter" by Bob Thomas, Denton Record-Chronicle, December 5, 1947, p. 4
  27. ^ "Hollywood" by Louella Parsons, Middletown Times Herald, January 15, 1948, p. 12
  28. ^ Basinger, J., Lana Turner, 1976, p. 80
  29. ^ "Lana Turner Says She Is Now the Home-Girl Type" by Bob Thomas, Argus-Press, December 7, 1949, p. 13
  30. ^,,20083504,00.html
  31. ^ a b Flint, Peter B. (1995-06-30). "Lana Turner, the Sultry Actress, Is Dead at 75". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-04-29. 
  32. ^
  33. ^ "Lana Turner Slated to Co-Star With Lew Ayres by Louella O. Parsons, Schenectady Gazette, March 7, 1940, p. 10
  34. ^ "Henry J. (Bob) Topping Dies; Was Heir to Tin Plate Fortune", The New York Times, April 23, 1968
  35. ^ "Actress's Marriage Stirs Church Trial", The New York Times, May 20, 1948
  36. ^ "Milestones: April 11, 1969". Time. April 11, 1969. Retrieved May 7, 2010. 
  37. ^ Jones, J. Harry (August 5, 2006). "The amazing Dr. Dante has seen it all". Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  38. ^ Parish, James Robert (2011). The Hollywood Book of Extravagance: The Totally Infamous, Mostly Disastrous, and Always Compelling Excesses of America's Film and TV Idols. John Wiley & Sons. p. 249.  
  39. ^ Schochet, Stephen (2003). "Who Is James Bond?". Archived from the original on August 26, 2004. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  40. ^ Turner 1982 pp.206-2011
  41. ^ "Killing Of Stompanato Unfolds Story Of Romance With Actress". Lewiston Morning Tribune. April 6, 1958. p. 2. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  42. ^ "Cheryl Crane: Past Can't Hurt Me Now". Spokane Chronicle. January 12, 1988. p. F4. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  43. ^ "Lana Turner's Daughter Tells Her Story". Larry King Live. August 8, 2001. Retrieved May 7, 2010. 
  44. ^ "Lana Turner reveals she has throat cancer". The Union Democrat. May 26, 1992. p. 5A. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  45. ^ "People". St. Paul Pioneer Press. February 20, 1993. p. 10D. 
  46. ^ "LANA TURNER DETERMINED TO BEAT CANCER RECURRENCE". Orlando Sentinel. July 23, 1994. p. A2. 
  47. ^ "Movie star Lana Turner part of Hollywood lore". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. June 30, 1995. p. 6B. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  48. ^ Wayne 2003 p.13
  49. ^ "Appeals Court Allows Lana Turner’s Daughter to Challenge Trust Provisions". September 7, 2001. p. 5. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  50. ^ O'Hara, Frank; Allen, Donald (1971). The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara. University of California Press. p. 449.  
  51. ^ Raha, Maria (2008). Hellions: Pop Culture's Rebel Women. Seal Press. p. 103.  
  52. ^ Parker, C. (2003). The Wire, Volumes 227-232. p. 28. 
  53. ^ Sweetman, Simon (December 21, 2011). "Lana Del Rey: 2012's zero-talent star". Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  54. ^ "'"Lana Turner Friday Star on 'Playhouse. Harrisburg Telegraph. November 8, 1941. p. 22. Retrieved July 22, 2015 – via  
  55. ^ "Radio's Golden Age". Nostalgia Digest 39 (2): 40–41. Spring 2013. 


Year Program Episode/source
1941 Philip Morris Playhouse The Devil and Miss Jones[54]
1949 Lux Radio Theatre Green Dolphin Street[55]

Radio appearances

Year Title Role Notes
1969-1970 Harold Robbins' The Survivors Tracy Carlyle Hastings 15 episodes
1971 The Last of the Powerseekers Tracy Carlyle Hastings Television film
1982-1983 Falcon Crest Jacqueline Perrault 6 episodes
1985 The Love Boat Elizabeth Raley 2 episodes
Year Title Role Notes
1937 They Won't Forget Mary Clay
1937 Topper Nightclub Patron Uncredited
1937 Great Garrick, TheThe Great Garrick Mademoiselle Auber
1938 Adventures of Marco Polo, TheThe Adventures of Marco Polo Nazama's Maid
1938 Love Finds Andy Hardy Cynthia Potter
1938 Chaser, TheThe Chaser Miss Rutherford Scenes deleted
1938 Four's a Crowd Passerby Uncredited
1938 Rich Man, Poor Girl Helen Thayer
1938 Dramatic School Mado
1939 Calling Dr. Kildare Rosalie Lewett
1939 These Glamour Girls Jane Thomas
1939 Dancing Co-Ed Patty Marlow
1940 Two Girls on Broadway Patricia 'Pat' Mahoney
1940 We Who Are Young Marjorie White Brooks
1941 Ziegfeld Girl Sheila Regan
1941 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Bea Emery
1941 Honky Tonk Elizabeth Cotton
1942 Johnny Eager Lisbeth Bard
1942 Somewhere I'll Find You Paula Lane
1943 Youngest Profession, TheThe Youngest Profession Herself (guest star) Cameo role
1943 Slightly Dangerous Peggy Evans/Carol Burden
1943 Du Barry Was a Lady Cameo role Uncredited guest star
1944 Marriage Is a Private Affair Theo Scofield West
1945 Keep Your Powder Dry Valerie 'Val' Parks
1945 Week-End at the Waldorf Bunny Smith
1946 Postman Always Rings Twice, TheThe Postman Always Rings Twice Cora Smith
1947 Green Dolphin Street Marianne Patourel
1947 Cass Timberlane Virginia Marshland
1948 Homecoming Lt. Jane 'Snapshot' McCall
1948 Three Musketeers, TheThe Three Musketeers Milady de Winter
1950 Life of Her Own, AA Life of Her Own Lily Brannel James
1951 Mr. Imperium Fredda Barlo
1952 Merry Widow, TheThe Merry Widow Crystal Radek
1952 Bad and the Beautiful, TheThe Bad and the Beautiful Georgia Lorrison
1953 Latin Lovers Nora Taylor
1954 Flame and the Flesh Madeline
1954 Betrayed Carla Van Oven
1955 Prodigal, TheThe Prodigal Samarra
1955 Sea Chase, TheThe Sea Chase Elsa Keller
1955 Rains of Ranchipur, TheThe Rains of Ranchipur Lady Edwina Esketh
1956 Diane Diane de Poitiers
1957 Peyton Place Constance MacKenzie Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
1958 Lady Takes a Flyer, TheThe Lady Takes a Flyer Maggie Colby
1958 Another Time, Another Place Sara Scott
1959 Imitation of Life Lora Meredith
1960 Portrait in Black Sheila Cabot
1961 By Love Possessed Marjorie Penrose
1961 Bachelor in Paradise Rosemary Howard
1962 Who's Got the Action? Melanie Flood
1965 Love Has Many Faces Kit Jordan
1966 Madame X Holly Parker Won—Golden Plate
1969 Big Cube, TheThe Big Cube Adriana Roman
1974 Persecution Carrie Masters Won—Medalla Sitges en Plata de Ley
1976 Bittersweet Love Claire
1980 Witches' Brew Vivian Cross


Turner, along with Betty Grable and Dorothy Lamour, as some of the more famous pin-up girls during the War era, are mentioned in the song made famous by Frank Sinatra 'Nancy (With The Laughing Face)'.

American singer-songwriter Elizabeth Grant, better known as Lana Del Rey, chose Turner's name for the first part of her stage name.[53]

Turner appears mentioned on the rap section of Madonna's "Vogue" next to stars from the Golden Age era of Hollywood such as Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe.[51] Turner is mentioned in Nina Simone's "My Baby Just Cares for Me".[52]

In music

Turner is the subject of the poem "Lana Turner has collapsed" by the poet Frank O'Hara.[50] She and Stompanato appear as minor characters in James Ellroy's novel L.A. Confidential.

In literature

In popular culture

For her contribution to the motion-picture industry, Turner has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6241 Hollywood Boulevard. On May 24, 1950, Turner left hand- and footprints in front of the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

Turner was survived by Cheryl Crane, her only child; and Crane's life partner Joyce "Josh" LeRoy, whom she said she accepted "as a second daughter". They inherited some of Turner's personal effects and $50,000 in Turner's will (her estate was estimated in court documents at $1.7 million [$2.9 million in 2016 dollars]) with the majority of her estate left to Carmen Lopez Cruz, her maid and companion for 45 years and the caregiver for her final illness. Crane challenged the will and Lopez claimed the majority of the estate was consumed by probate costs, legal fees and Turner's final illness.[49]

A long-time heavy smoker, Turner was diagnosed with throat cancer in May 1992.[44] She stopped smoking after her diagnosis and, in February 1993, announced she was cancer free.[45] Despite treatment, the cancer returned in July 1994.[46] Turner died at the age of 74 on June 29, 1995, of complications from throat cancer at her home in Century City, Los Angeles, California.[47] Turner's remains were cremated.[48]


Turner also famously dated Tyrone Power for several months and she considered him to be the love of her life. In her 1982 autobiography, Turner claims to have become pregnant with Power's child, in 1948, but chose to have an abortion. While on a 1948 goodwill trip to Europe and South Africa, he fell in love with Linda Christian in Rome. Power and Christian were married on January 27, 1949.

On the evening of April 4, 1958, after the Oscar telecast which she had attended without him, Turner and Stompanato began arguing heatedly in Turner's rented house at 730 North Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills. Fearing her mother's life was in danger, Turner's 14-year-old daughter, Cheryl, grabbed a kitchen knife and ran to Turner's defense.[42] Many theories abound as to what actually happened, but the teenager apparently stabbed Stompanato, killing him. The murder case quickly became a media sensation. It was later deemed a justifiable homicide at a coroner's inquest, at which Turner provided dramatic testimony.[43]

Lana Turner's former home in Beverly Hills where Johnny Stompanato was killed in 1958

In the fall of 1957, Stompanato visited Turner in England, where she was filming Another Time, Another Place (1958), co-starring Sean Connery. In her autobiography, Turner said she arranged for Stompanato's visit because she was lonely and having a difficult time filming. Their reunion was initially happy, but the two soon began fighting. Stompanato became suspicious when Turner would not allow him to visit the set and, during one fight, he choked her, causing her to miss three weeks of filming. Turner later wrote that she and her makeup man, Del Armstrong, called Scotland Yard to have Stompanato deported. Stompanato got wind of the plan and showed up on the set with a gun, threatening her and her co-star Connery, whom he warned to keep away from Turner. Connery answered by grabbing the gun out of Stompanato's hand and twisting his wrist, causing him to run off set sheepishly.[39] Turner and Armstrong later returned with two Scotland Yard detectives to the rented house where she and Stompanato were staying. The detectives advised Stompanato to leave and escorted him out of the house and to the airport, where he boarded a plane back to the United States.[40][41]

Turner met Johnny Stompanato during the spring of 1957, shortly after ending her marriage to Barker. At first, Turner fell for Stompanato's good looks and prowess as a lover, but after she discovered his ties to the Los Angeles underworld (in particular, his association with gangster Mickey Cohen), she tried to break off the affair out of fear of bad publicity. Stompanato was not easily deterred, however, and over the course of the following year, they carried on a relationship filled with violent arguments, physical abuse, and repeated reconciliations.

The Stompanato killing

She later famously said, "My goal was to have one husband and seven children, but it turned out to be the other way around."[38]

  • Bandleader Artie Shaw (1940). Married only four months, Turner was 19 when she and Shaw eloped on their first date. A young Judy Garland, who reported she had a crush on Artie at that time, was both shocked and heartbroken. The sudden marriage was highly publicized, and there was even talk of MGM releasing her from her contract.[33] She later referred to their stormy and verbally abusive relationship as "my college education".
  • Actor and restaurateur Joseph Stephen Crane (1942–1943, 1943–1944). Turner and Crane's first marriage was annulled after she discovered that Crane's previous divorce had not yet been finalized. After a brief separation (during which Crane attempted suicide), they remarried to provide for their newborn daughter, Cheryl. However, their brief second marriage barely lasted a year primarily because the two were simply not compatible. This has been variously attributed to Lana's work schedule, to Crane's own ambitions to prove himself as a businessman independent of his prominent wife, and to differences over parenting.
  • Millionaire socialite Henry J. Topping Jr. (1948–1952). A brother of Dan Topping, owner of the New York Yankees, and a grandson of tin-plate magnate Daniel G. Reid, "Bob" Topping proposed to Turner at the 21 Club in Los Angeles by dropping a diamond ring into her martini. The ceremony occurred three days after Topping was divorced from his third wife, actress Arline Judge, who had been previously married to his brother Dan. Although worth millions when they married, Topping suffered heavy financial losses due to poor investments and excessive gambling.[34] The couple's marriage resulted in a church trial for the officiant because the marriage took place less than a year after Topping's divorce from Judge. Cheryl Crane writes in her memoir that her mother's wedding to Bob Topping was a beautiful, lavish affair held in the spacious Topping family mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, with all of the bells and whistles accompanying a traditional wedding. Despite the fact that both bride and groom had been married and divorced multiple times previously, Lana wore a traditional white gown, the bridesmaids wore equally beautiful gowns of Lana's choosing, and young Cheryl served as the flower girl. Crane goes on to state that she later saw this as her mother's attempt to finally have a beautiful, traditional wedding while she was still young after three failed marriages (to Artie Shaw and Steve Crane) in which the ceremonies took place before justices of the peace with Lana usually attired in a simple dress suit and heels.[35]
  • Actor Lex Barker (1953–1957), whom she divorced. Cheryl Crane's memoir claims that Barker repeatedly molested and raped her, and after she informed her mother of this, they divorced.
  • Rancher Frederick "Fred" May (1960–1962), who was a member of the May department-store family
  • Robert P. Eaton (1965–1969);.[36] A movie producer, he went on to write The Body Brokers, a behind-the-scenes look at the Hollywood movie world, featuring a character named Marla Jordan, based on Turner.
  • Nightclub hypnotist Ronald Pellar, also known as Ronald Dante or Dr. Dante (1969–1972). The couple met in 1969 in a Los Angeles discotheque and married that same year. After about six months of marriage, Pellar disappeared a few days after Turner had written a $35,000 check to him to help him in an investment; he used the money for other purposes. In addition, she later accused him of stealing $100,000 worth of jewelry. Dante denied that he stole from Turner and no charges were ever filed against Dante.[37]

Turner habitually married, marrying eight times to seven different husbands:

Turner was well known inside Hollywood circles for dating often, changing partners often, and for never shying away from the topic of how many lovers she'd had in her lifetime. However, she claimed that sex was not important to her and that she was more of a romantic, stating: “All those years that my image on the screen as “sex goddess”—well that makes me laugh. Sex was never important to me. I’m sorry if that disappoints you, but it’s true. Romance, yes. Romance was very important. But I never liked being rushed into bed, and I never allowed it. I’d put it off as long as I could and I gave in only when I was in love, or thought I was. It was always the courtship, the cuddling, and the closeness that I cared about, never the act of sex itself—with some exceptions of course. I’m not masquerading as a prude, but I’ve always been portrayed as a sexy woman, and that’s wrong. Sensuous, yes. When I’m involved with someone I care for deeply, I can feel sensual. But that’s a private matter.”[32]


Lana Turner in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

Turner suffered from depression for much of her life.[5] In her autobiography, Turner admitted that she had two abortions and also suffered three stillbirths. She said she was also an alcoholic and attempted suicide in 1951 by slitting her wrists, following the end of her fourth marriage to Bob Topping.[31] In 1980, Turner had what she referred to as a "religious awakening" and became a devout Roman Catholic.[31]

Personal life

Turner stated she was on a "downhill slide" for much of the 1970s, drinking heavily, not eating, missing performances, and only weighing 95 pounds. She decided to stop drinking, eat organic food, and examine her spiritual side. Turner claimed she was celibate for the remainder of her life, after her final divorce in 1969 and had no desire to marry again.[30]

On October 25, 1981, the National Film Society presented Lana with an Artistry in Cinema award. In 1994, she received Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, Spain. In 1982, Turner released an autobiography entitled Lana: The Lady, The Legend, The Truth.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Turner appeared in several television roles, most notably as a guest star for several episodes on the series Falcon Crest as the mysterious Jaqueline Perrault and The Love Boat, but the majority of her final decade was spent out of the public eye.

In 1969, Turner appeared in her only lead starring role on television in ABC's Harold Robbins' The Survivors, but despite the presence of other big-name stars, the program fared badly opposite Mayberry R.F.D. and The Doris Day Show on CBS and The NBC Monday Movie, and was cancelled midway into the season.

Later years

She made her last film at MGM starring with Bob Hope in Bachelor in Paradise (1961). Turner's projects of this era include By Love Possessed (1961), based on the James Gould Cozzens novel. On July 19, 1961, it became the first in-flight movie to be shown on a regular basis on a scheduled airline flight, by Trans World Airlines (TWA) to its first-class passengers. Other highlights of this period include two Hunter productions (for whom she did Imitation of Life), Portrait in Black (1960), a box office success, co-starring Anthony Quinn and Sandra Dee, and Madame X (1966), which proved to be her last major starring role.

In the trail of the related negative publicity, Turner accepted the lead role in Ross Hunter's remake of Imitation of Life (1959) under the direction of Douglas Sirk. Universal Studios capitalized on her new-found notoriety; the result was one of the biggest hits of the year, and the biggest of Turner's career; she owned 50% of the earnings of the picture and during just the first year of the film's release she earned $11 million. Critics and audiences could not help noticing that the plots of Peyton Place and Imitation of Life each seemed to mirror certain parts of Turner's private life. Specifically, both film depicted the troubled, complicated relationship between a single mother and her teenaged daughter.

During the 1950s, Turner starred in a series of films that failed at the box office, a situation MGM attempted to remedy by casting her in musicals. The first, Mr. Imperium (1951), was a flop, while The Merry Widow (1952) was more successful. She gave a widely praised performance in Vincente Minnelli's film, The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) (in a role partly based on Diana Barrymore), and later starred with John Wayne in the adventure film The Sea Chase (1955). She was then cast in the epic The Prodigal (1955), but the film and her performance in general were not well received. After the film Diane (1956), MGM opted not to renew her contract. This was a difficult time for Hollywood's major studios because a recent court decision forced them to divest themselves of their movie theaters. In addition, television had caught on in a big way; the public was staying home. Turner was just one of MGM's star roster to be let go. Her career recovered briefly after she appeared in the hugely successful big-screen adaptation of Grace Metalious's best-selling novel, Peyton Place (1957), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. Another few box-office failures followed (Another Time, Another Place (1958), for example) when the 1958 scandal surrounding her daughter's killing of Stompanato threatened to derail her career completely.

In 1948, Turner appeared in her first Technicolor film, as Lady de Winter in The Three Musketeers, opposite Gene Kelly, Van Heflin, and June Allyson. In November 1947, she agreed to do the film, thereby giving up an unfinished film project called Bedeviled.[26] However, in January 1948, it was reported that she had withdrawn from the film. Initially, Louis B. Mayer gave her permission for doing so because of her schedule,[27] but she was later that month put on suspension.[28] Eventually, Turner agreed to make the film, but did not start production until March due to having to lose weight. In 1949, she was to headline A Life of Her Own (1950). The project was shelved for several months, and Turner insisted in December 1949 that she had nothing to do with it, saying: "Everybody agrees that the script is still a pile of junk. I'm anxious to get started. By the time this one comes out, it will be almost three years since I was last on the screen, in The Three Musketeers. I don't think it's healthy to stay off the screen that long."[29]

Later that year, Turner headlined Cass Timberlane, a role for which Jennifer Jones, Vivien Leigh, and Virginia Grey were previously considered.[21] As of early 1946, Turner was set for the role, but schedules with Green Dolphin Street almost prohibited her from taking the role, and by late 1946, she was almost recast.[22] Production of Cass Timberlane was very exhausting for Turner, as it was shot in between retakes of Green Dolphin Street.[23] Nevertheless, she took the female lead in Homecoming (1948) in August 1947, only moments after finishing Cass Timberlane.[24] She was the studio's first choice for the role, but they were reluctant to offer her the part, considering her overbooked schedule.[24] Paired again with Clark Gable in Homecoming, their chemistry projected on the screen was well received by the audience, and they were nicknamed "the team that generates steam".[25] By this period, Turner was at the zenith of her film career, and was not only MGM's most popular star, but also one of the 10 best-paid women in the United States.[12]

She got the role after turning down "four pretty-pretty parts in a row." The film became a box office success, which prompted the studio to take more risks on the star.[19] In August 1946, it was announced Turner was set to replace Katharine Hepburn in the big-budgeted historical drama Green Dolphin Street (1947), a role for which she darkened her hair and lost 15 pounds.[19][20] She was cast due to the persistence of producer Carey Wilson, who was overwhelmed by her performance in The Postman Always Rings Twice.[20] Turner later recalled she was surprised about replacing Hepburn, saying: "And I guess I'm about the most un-Hepburnish actress on the lot. But it was just what I wanted to do." It was her first starring role that did not center on her looks. In an interview, Turner said: "I even go running around in the jungles of New Zealand in a dress that's filthy and ragged. I don't wear any make-up and my hair's a mess." Nevertheless, she insisted she would not give up her glamorous image.[19]

I finally got tired of making movies where all I did was walk across the screen and look pretty. I got a big chance to do some real acting in The Postman Always Rings Twice, and I'm not going to slip back if I can help it. I tried to persuade the studio to give me something different. But every time I went into my argument about how bad a picture was, they'd say, 'well, it's making a fortune.' That licked me.[19]

While not exactly giving up her pin-up credentials, Turner established herself as a skilled actress, and commented on this in 1946:

Meanwhile, Turner was receiving much publicity for her personal life, and her career was one of the very few to be furthered by this.[12] MGM boosted this by changing the title of her latest film to Slightly Dangerous (1943).[12] After the war, Turner's career continued successfully with the release, The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), which co-starred John Garfield.[18] As claimed in a documentary, Turner did not get along with him, and when she found he was her male lead, she responded: "Couldn't they at least hire someone attractive?" The now-classic film noir marked a turning point in Turner's career as her first femme fatale role. Reviews of the film, and in particular, Turner's performance, were glowing, with a critic of The New York Times writing it was "the role of her career."[12]

Turner, an actress bolstered by her extreme beauty, reached the height of her fame in the 1940s and 1950s. During World War II, Turner became a popular pin-up girl because of her popularity in such films such as Ziegfeld Girl (1941), Johnny Eager (1942), Slightly Dangerous (1943), and four films with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's "king of the lot", Clark Gable. The Turner-Gable films' successes were only heightened by gossip-column rumors about a relationship between the two. Turner even had a B-17 Flying Fortress—the Tempest Turner—named after her.[16] Following the canned The Sea-Wolf project, Turner and Gable were set to star in The Uniform in December 1940.[17] Turner was eventually replaced by Rosalind Russell and the film was released as They Met in Bombay (1941).

Mayer turned her into a glamorous star and gave her the leads in several youth-oriented films in the late 1930s and early 1940s, such as Dramatic School (1938), These Glamour Girls (1939) and Dancing Co-Ed (1939). In early 1940, she was also set to star in a remake of Our Dancing Daughters, but the film was never made.[15] From the beginning of her career, Turner stood her ground on her beliefs and was one of the few actresses at MGM to go against Mayer's wishes.[12]


[12] who had died six months before Turner's arrival at symbol, a Jean Harlow that LeRoy's protégée Turner could be the next Louis B. Mayer (1938). This appearance, as a flirtatious girl described as "the kissing bug", convinced Love Finds Andy Hardy film Andy Hardy in the Mickey Rooney Instead, she was assigned opposite teen idol [14], but the project was eventually canned.Clark Gable, co-starring The Sea-Wolf Her first starring role for MGM was scheduled to be an adaptation of :29[13] to take her with him, because Warner believed that she would not "amount to anything".Jack L. Warner and graduated from high school in between filming. According to LeRoy, she made the switch thanks to him, for he left Warners to work at MGM and was advised by studio head [12] for $100 a week,Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer In late 1937, she signed a contract with [12] According to her daughter, this was a nickname Turner detested throughout her entire career.[11] Turner earned the nickname "


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