Today is the anniversary of film star Lana Turner’s birthday.
This is a post that ran a couple of years ago, but as I’m lazy and have a few new readers who might have missed this one, I’ll re-run it!
A Series Of Emergencies
Never shy about her love life, Hollywood beauty Lana Turner often did the kiss and tell thing.
She covered topics from how many lovers she had to how well they did in bed, but she claimed that sex was never important to her!
She liked romance a great deal more.
Lana said in one interview, “All those years my image on the screen was “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. I never liked being rushed into bed, I never allowed it…it was always the courtship, the cuddling, and the closeness that I cared about…I’ve always been portrayed as a sexy woman, and that’s wrong. Sensuous, yes.”
Yet, she was a serial bride.
Married to seven different men eight times, and hundreds of lovers, Turner was THE hot blonde in the Hollywood of the 40s and 50s.
She married bandleader Artie Shaw in 1940, eloping with him at 19 on their first date – he was a serial groom – the union lasted 4 months! Shaw was verbally abusive, and she later referred to that four months as her college education.
Never one to miss dinner, she married restaurateur Joseph Stephen Crane – twice. Their first marriage was annulled when she found out his divorce wasn’t finalized. During the brief separation, Crane attempted suicide, but the lovebirds reconciled to care for their daughter, Cheryl.
Tiring of being Mr. Lana Turner, egomaniac Crane, dropped the blonde bombshell like a hot potato after a whole year of wedded non-bliss.
Music and meals not doing the trick, Lana married millionaire socialite Henry J. Topping Jr. His big brother owned the New York Yankees at the time, Topping’s granddad was a successful business man dealing in tin-plate.
He won her with romance. When he proposed at the 21 Club in LA, he dropped a diamond ring into her martini.
It was shaken, not stirred, and a busy three days after his most recent divorce, they tripped the light fantastic and headed off down the bridal path.
The wedding was a huge affair at which the bride wore a designer white wedding gown, dismissing the fact that both had been married multiple times.
But, alas, true love it wasn’t and off to the divorce court, where at this time she had her own parking place, Lana dashed.
Next UP was Lex Barker of Tarzan fame. Barker, also a serial groom, and according to Lana’s daughter, Cheryl, a child-molester, was voted off the island once Cheryl told her sad tales to mom.
Then it was off to the mall for some shopping. Lana married Fred May, a member of the May department store family. He was a rancher, she was a shopper, it was doomed from the start!
Back in Hollywood, Lana married movie producer Robert P. Eaton. Four long years, a near record for her, and it was over. Heartbroken, in his behind-the-scenes peek into the land of movies, he created a feature character based on his steamy ex.
Taylor Swift has nothing on the man!
Her final marriage was to a nightclub hypnotist named Ronald Pellar. They met at a disco in 1969, got married with Lana hoping this one would work.
Six months into the endeavor, Lana realized a hundred grand worth of her jewelry was missing, and that her entertainer husband wasn’t investing the money she’d given him.
Cheat on her maybe, steal from her – never!
Somewhere between husbands Barker and May, Lana met the man that would define her life, give her the headlines no one wanted, and nearly take her life.
Enter Johnny Stompanato.
Good looking and a famed lover, Lana fell for the gangster hard and fast.
Stompanato was tied to Mickey Cohen, whom you may remember from a post earlier this month (a couple of years ago) – that is, if anyone is reading this stuff.
Once his underworld associations and connections came to light, Lana tried to break the romance off, fearing the bad PR would harm her already fading career.
The affair was riddled with violent arguments – some public, physical abuse, break UPs, and reconciliations.
The Press loved it!
Turner went to the UK to film Another Time, Another Place with future James Bond, Sean Connery. Lonely and having a difficult time filming, she invited the mobster over for a visit. Things started off well enough, but per the script of their relationship, the fights ensued.
Johnny was suspicious; Lana barred him from the set, and one night, during an argument he choked her, stopping filming for three weeks.
Hearing that Lana had called Scotland Yard asking for Stompanato’s deportation, he arrived on the set with a gun, threatening to kill her and Connery. Connery, proving he is the ONLY James Bond, wrested the gun from Stompanato by twisting his wrist – Stompanato, knowing he was bested, slunk away. Back at Lana’s rented digs, he was met by the boys from the Yard and advised to leave the country.
On Oscar Night, April 4, 1958, after she returned from the gala which she’d attended without him, a fight broke out and the choking thing started UP again.
Turner’s daughter, Cheryl then 14, fearing for her mother’s life, grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed the sleazebag, who expired later that evening.
The Press went wild!
Deemed a justifiable homicide by the LAPD…after an Oscar winning performance by mom…
…Cheryl, who spent three weeks in Juvenile Hall, was cleared of all charges.
In 1985, Cheryl decided to tell her story. Having been made a ward of the court, she was released into her grandmother’s custody.
Grandma doing such a bang UP job on Lana was equally inept with Cheryl. Crane began clubbing and racing around town at the ripe old age of 18, spending 11 months in a reform school.
Released back to Granny’s, she ran away twice and after the second incident, was institutionalized at the Institute of Living, a sanitarium in Connecticut near her dad.
On a visit, Lana told her daughter her wardship had been extended by the court for an additional year – a total fabrication – and Cheryl attempted suicide smashing her fists through a window to slit her wrists.
Cheryl would meet fellow inmate, comedian Jonathan Winters whom she credited with helping her to regain her will to live.
Theories abound about the death of Stompanato, many centering around the notion that Lana did the deed and Cheryl took the blame.
58 60 years later she still does.
It really was a series of emergencies.