Produced on February 8, 1921, in Wallace, Idaho, Lana Turner was “found” while drinking pop at a Hollywood caf. She signed with MGM and became a famous picture celebrity and picture sex symbol. Wed seven times, Turner was romantically linked to numerous celebrities. In 1958, Turner’s daughter stabbed gangster Johnny Stompanato, but it was judged justifiable murder. Turner expired in Century City, California, on June 29, 1995.
Celebrity. Among America’s most famous sex symbols during the 1940s and 1950s, Turner made over 50 movies. Her tempestuous private life—seven unions, a stable of fans and a very public murder scandal—just raised her name as a larger than life display and sex goddess.
After her father, Virgil, a gambler and bootlegger, was killed, the youthful Turner and her mom, Mildred, left the Idaho mining town of Wallace for San Francisco. In 1935, they moved again, this time to La. Wilkerson presented Turner to Zeppo Marx (of the Marx Brothers), who possessed his own casting service, and Marx in turn sent her to director Mervyn LeRoy. LeRoy cast the voluptuous 15-year old performer (who selected the screen name “Lana” herself) in the thriller, They Will Not Forget (1937), in which she appeared briefly but memorably in a form-fitting skirt and jumper. She soon signed a contract in the Metro Goldwyn Mayer studio.
It wasn’t long before Turner became known as the “Sweater Girl”— the theme of a series of extremely popular posters cherished by GI’s around the world during World War II. As her popularity grew, she soon started winning leading characters, as well as in 1941 earned critical acclaim for her performance in Ziegfield Girl.
After World War II finished, Turner could go farther away from the “Sweater Girl” moniker she despised. She gave among her most revered performances as a coldblooded adulteress in The Postman Always Rings Twice in 1946. The move paid off, as well as in 1958 Turner garnered an Academy Award nomination for the best actress for her part in Peyton Place.
Throughout her career, Turner’s tempestuous private life threatened to overshadow her professional successes. She married Stephen Crane, a businessman, in 1942, and then discover that his divorce from his first wife had not been yet legal. They wed again (this time lawfully) in 1943, then divorced a year later, after Turner gave birth to your daughter, Cheryl. In 1948, Turner wed the multimillionaire Bob Topping, but divorced him in 1951. She divorced her fourth husband, Lex Barker, the onetime star of the Tarzan films, in 1957, after she discovered he had sexually abused the young Cheryl.
Turner’s 14-year old daughter, Cheryl Crane, had stabbed Stompanato after overhearing him threatening to kill her mom within a domestic dispute. A judge ruled the event constituted justifiable homicide, but Cheryl was sent to live with her maternal grandmother.
The scandalous promotion did not break Turner’s professional impetus; paradoxically, her biggest hit came in 1959 with Imitation of Life, where she played an ambitious performer who loses her daughter’s fondness for the benefit of her career. She’d another success in 1966, with Madame X.
In the years that followed, nevertheless, Turner appeared to have already been relegated to second-grade pictures and television productions. She released her autobiography, Lana: The Lady, The Legend, The Truth, in 1982. A year after, Turner formally retired from playing.
In 1981, Turner made up along with her daughter Cheryl, who beat continuing psychological issues (including a 10-month stay in a mental hospital at age 17) to develop into an effective businesswoman. Turner dwelt quietly and stayed from the public eye until 1992, when rumors started to spread that the performer, a longtime heavy smoker, was undergoing treatment for throat cancer. On June 29, 1995, at age 75, Turner died at her house in Century City, La, with her daughter at her side.