The life story of Lane Turner

During her half-century-long career, Lana Turner made 54 films and had the status of a respectable actress, but none of the success on the big screen could be compared to her private life.

Seven husbands, seven divorces, two abortions, three stillbirths, 698 pairs of shoes, more than 150 love affairs with men such as Richard Barton, Dean Martin, Kirk Douglas, Clark Gable or Frank Sinatra, the fight against alcoholism and at least two suicide attempts, they are too much for one life, but not for Lana Turner. She didn’t just dwell on divorce lawsuits and love affairs, but she added violence, rape and murder to that mix, in the true style of film noir.

I will introduce you to the life story of Lane Turner!

Earlier years

The first violent death befell her early. Born Julia Gene Mildred Frances Turner on February 8, 1921, in Idaho, she was six years old when she lost her father. Virgil Turner, a gambler prone to gambling, was killed after a game of cards that went wrong.

Little Lana, as she later called herself, moved with her mother Mildred to Los Angeles, where they lived in the houses of friends and could barely make ends meet.

– I was a maid, a cheap Cinderella, who could not hope for a magic pumpkin – she wrote in her autobiography entitled “Lana: lady, legend, truth”, 1982.

A turning point in life

But, the magic pumpkin appeared at one point and, just like in a fairy tale, took Cinderella to a place where she could turn into a princess. Legend has it that a film agent spotted her eating ice cream at the famous drugstore “Schwab”, and was actually discovered by the editor of the “Hollywood Reporter” magazine when she ran away from class and sat in a much less elegant “Top Hat Cafe”.

He immediately took her to Zep Marx, one of the Marx brothers, who had an acting agency, and he secured her first role in the 1937 film “They Won’t Forget,” in which, in the role of a precocious schoolgirl, she appeared in a tight skirt and an equally tight sweater. Although she was on the screen for only a few minutes and did not utter a single word, her lush figure and full lips exuded such true sex appeal that she soon became a favorite pinup girl.

The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio initially promoted her as a typical American blonde (albeit bleached) beauty, in films aimed at teenage audiences, such as “Love Finds Andy Hardy” from 1939. But then it spoiled that youthfulness a bit. Sexy image: when her fiancé, a handsome lawyer, Greg Boozer, left her stranded one night because of Joan Crawford, nineteen-year-old Lana Turner got angry, went out with 11-year-old musician and playboy Artie Shaw and married him that same night. The marriage did not last even four months, because Lana and Artie, who pretended to be a great intellectual, did not agree on anything.

– He bothered me with Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. I tried to read them later, but I didn’t get far – she honestly admitted.

Shaw later said of her that she was “hollow-headed”, and she said of him that he was endowed exclusively as a musician. When she remained pregnant, Artie proved to be a complete scumbag, declaring that the child was not his. Lana had an abortion and then they broke up.

What followed was a dizzying series of lovers and husbands, none of whom really showed up.

– Why have I been always attracted to the wrong men? Why did I always end up grabbing her? Almost all my husbands just took and took, and I gave too much – she wrote in her autobiography.

When she became pregnant with her second husband, Stephen Crane, heir to a tobacco company, whom she married in the summer of 1942 in Vegas, it turned out that his divorce from his previous wife was not yet final, so they had to wait and remarry a year later. , just before Cheryl Christina Crane, her only child, was born. As early as 1943, the marriage ended, and Lana Turner set to work with zeal. She persuaded the bosses in “MGM” to give her the main female role in the movie “The Postman Always Rings Twice”. The film became a hit, and Lana Turner proved that she is not only a beautiful face but also a great actress.

Lana also passionately threw herself into new relationships: with actors Turhan Bey, Peter Shaw, Robert Hutton and Tyrone Power, with whom she remained pregnant and went for an abortion again. What was she looking for in the arms of all those men? One MGM studio boss compared her to Grace Kelly, who, despite her appearance as an ice lady, loved good sex more than anything, and explained:

– Lana had the morals and attitude of a man. She loved sex. When she saw a muscular stage worker in tight pants who she liked, she would invite him to her wardrobe.

Turner, on the other hand, claimed something quite different:

– Sex never meant much to me. I will be sorry if that disappoints you, but it is true. Romance, yes. She was important to me. I cared about courtship and cuddling, not sex.

That she really cared about romance, she showed in 1948 at her wedding to the millionaire Henry J. Topping. Although she and the groom had already had a good number of failed marriages, she married Topinga on his property in Connecticut, at a traditional ceremony, in a luxurious white wedding dress, accompanied by a bridesmaid and little Cheryl who threw rose petals. Columnist Heda Hopper described the wedding as “wedding of the year”, but Lana Turner had a miscarriage on her first honeymoon in Europe, and after Toping caught her in flagrant’s with entertainer Billy Daniels at the Mocambo nightclub, she cut her veins in a desperate attempt to save the marriage. When it disintegrated in 1951, however, she ended up in hospital again with cuts to her wrists, which she claimed, quite unconvincingly, that she had sustained from the broken glass on the door.

Although the first three wives were not “fabulous and great”, compared to the fourth, actor Lex Barker, they seemed like real gentlemen. For Barker, who became famous as the film Tarzan and after Old Shetherhand in the films about Vinetu, she married in 1953 in Italy, where she shot the film “Flame and Flesh”, and the wedding ceremony was repeated the same year in Hollywood, because Lana was convinced that she found true love.

Maybe the marriage would have lasted if Cheryl hadn’t confided in Grandma Mildred what her stepfather was doing when he came to her room in the evening. The withdrawn girl longed for her mother’s goodnight kiss, but Lana rarely had time for her unit – whenever her daughter wanted to kiss her, she warned her not to spoil her makeup and hairstyle, so the lonely girl crawled into her mother’s closet. To “inhale her scent.” Instead of her mother, Cheryl visited Lex Barker in her room, who raped her so brutally from night to night, from the age of ten to thirteen, that she was left with lasting consequences.

When Cheryl grew a little older and decided to defend herself, her stepfather tried to suffocate her with a pillow. The girl finally confided in her grandmother, who immediately told Lana Turner everything. The actress Snuck into Barker’s bed in the middle of the night and put a gun to his head, but then she thought, “Is this bastard worth spending the rest of my life in prison?” To reject my career, to destroy everything around me ”?

When Lex woke up in the morning, Lana kicked him out of the house and asked for a divorce, but she did not report him to the police in order to avoid a scandal. But, even without that scandal, her series of marriages and lovers was too spicy for “MGM”, which terminated its contract with the actress in 1956.

A new family tragedy

As if out of spite, she achieved her greatest success just then: for the role in the film “Peyton Town”, after which the popular television series was later made, she was nominated for an “Oscar” for the best female role. After the award ceremony, at which the award did not go to her, but to actress Joanna Woodward for “Three Eve’s Faces”, she was greeted at home by her drunken lover Johnny Stompanato and beaten up.

– I was still wearing jewelry. I was more hurt by the bitter irony that I was an abused woman with diamonds, than by the blows of Johnny’s fist – she said later.

The gangster and right-hand man of the mafia boss Mickey Cohen, thirty-two-year-old Stompanato was handsome and always dandyly dressed, so the media at the time called him “Adonis of the Underworld”. Lana Turner warmed up to him, and even when she found out that a real bully was hiding behind his handsome face, she didn’t want to get rid of him.

“His passion excited me,” she admitted in her autobiography.

But quarrels were frequent and fierce, beatings common. When Johnny visited her in the fall of 1957 in England, where she was filming “Another Time Another Place”, he tried to strangle her in a rage, which is why she was absent from filming for three weeks. Only her film partner Sean Connery managed to come out with the mobster, who, when Stompanato appeared on the set armed and started threatening Lana and the other actors, snatched his gun and twisted his arm so that the bully had to pull.

The quarrel and fight after the “Oscar” ceremony was accidentally seen by fourteen-year-old Cheryl, who was afraid that Stompanato would kill her mother, grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed her mother’s lover in the stomach. He collapsed, Cheryl fled to her room, and Lana Turner called her mother, who eventually called the police. When they arrived, Stompanato was already dead.

The scandal shook America, a number of theories about what actually happened, passionate letters that the Hollywood star wrote to her lover came to light, and she performed a show of life in court, breaking her fingers as she testified that Stompanato was obsessed with her. And how he threatened to kill her mother and daughter if she left him. It is no wonder that the audience flocked to the cinema to watch “Peyton Town”, in which Lana Turner also testified dramatically in the courtroom on the screen.

Of course, even more attention was drawn to “Imitation of Life”, a film masterpiece whose characters really seem to imitate the life of Lane Turner: an actress who devotes more time to her career than her daughter, and a daughter who falls in love with her mother’s lover.

Cheryl was eventually released and, at her own request, went to live with her grandmother, and later, quite unexpectedly, opted for same-sex relationships, while Lana Turner continued to marry – first to Frederick May, then to an 11-year-younger producer. Robert Eaton, and finally for the hypnotist, Ronald Dante, who “borrowed” $35,000 from her for a job he never started, and then stole jewelry worth 100,000 from her.

After the last divorce, in 1969, Lana chose “voluntary celibacy”, as she put it.

The last years of life

– I wanted to have a husband and seven children, but it turned out the other way around – she explained and added. – I used to rely on men, but in every crisis they were useless, and I was strong. I will openly say that I have no desire to remarry.

She found solace in the faith when she converted to Catholicism in 1980. For a long time, she was in a platonic relationship with her hairdresser, who helped her start eating healthily, exclusively with organic food, and stop drinking.

Namely, she was more than inclined to drink – once on the way to a party she pulled a flask out of her purse and took a sip of whiskey, and when her companion told her to wait because she would be at the party where there were drinks in 15 minutes, she said:

– But it’s 15 minutes without alcohol!

However, she stopped smoking only when she was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1992, from which she eventually died. Her daughter Cheryl, who worked as a real estate agent until her retirement, left some belongings and fifty thousand dollars, while most of the property, estimated at one million and seven hundred thousand dollars, she left to her maid Carmen Lopez Cruz, who is for her. She worked for a full 45 years and nursed during her illness.

Even today, it is not known whether Cheryl or the loyal Carmen were on her deathbed with Lana Turner on June 29, 1995.


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