Lana Turner

Happy birthday to actress Lana Turner, lanaturnerborn February 8, 1921 in Wallace, ID.  When Turner was 10 years old, she and her mother moved to Los Angeles after spending several years in San Francisco, where a year earlier, her father was murdered.  Turner and her mother lived a meager life of poverty until their lives were suddenly turned around on a fateful afternoon in 1937.  On that day, a 16-year-old Turner snuck out of high school to smoke a cigarette and ended up at a nearby soda fountain where William R. Wilkerson, publisher of the Hollywood Reporter, happened to be sitting at the counter.  Struck by Turner’s dazzling beauty, he asked her, “How would you like to be in the movies?”  Turner said she needed to check with her mother and took Wilkerson’s card.  After confirming Wilkerson was indeed a major Hollywood heavyweight, they contacted him and Turner’s ascent to film stardom was instantly set in motion.  Wilkerson introduced Turner to agent Zeppo Marx, who signed her and took her to Warner Bros. where director Mervyn LeRoy immediately cast her in They Won’t Forget (1937).  After a series of youth-oriented films in the late 1930s, Turner started getting serious roles and quickly developed into a star.  Some of her notable films include: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) with Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman, Slightly Dangerous (1943) with Robert Young, Green Dolphin Street (1947) with Van Heflin and Donna Reed, The Three Musketeers (1948) with Gene Kelly and June Allyson, The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) with Kirk Douglas, Peyton Place (1957) with Lee Philips, for which Turner received a Best Actress Oscar nomination, and Imitation of Life (1959) with Sandra Dee.  Turner appeared in two classic noir films: Johnny Eager (1942) with Robert Taylor and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) with John Garfield, which became one of her best remembered roles.  Throughout her career, Turner’s dating escapades and eight marriages provided fodder for a never-ending stream of sensational Hollywood headlines.  Among her husbands were bandleader Artie Shaw and actor Lex Barker.  In 1957, Turner dated Johnny Stompanato, who had strong organized crime ties.  Their tempestuous and often abusive relationship came to a horrifying end when Turner’s 14-year-old daughter, fearing for her mother’s life, stabbed and killed Stompanato in their Beverly Hills home in 1958.  After a highly publicized trial, the death was ruled a justifiable homicide.  By the early 1960s, Turner’s career had slowed considerably, and her last starring film role was in Madame X (1966).  In 1969, she starred in the TV series The Survivors, which was cancelled before the first season ended.  Turner continued to make occasional television appearances throughout the 1970s and 80s, highlighted by a guest starring role on Falcon Crest in the early 1980s, but by 1986, had retired from the screen.  Turner died of throat cancer in 1992 at age 74.


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