Lana Turner was born as Julia Jean Turner at the 8th of Febr. 1921 in Wallace, Idaho, USA.
Her mother was Mildred Frances Cowan and her father was John Virgil Turner.
Lana looked like her father.
Her father was a miner and when he wasn’t doing that he was singing and dancing in Elks Club Shows. Her mother would model clothes at the fashion shows at the Elks Club. Later on she worked as a beautician.
They visited catholic churches and later on converted to catholicism.
For need of saint names she chose the names of her mother: Mildred Frances.
When Lana was 6 they moved to San Francisco, because there were better job opportunities.
Her father died when she was 9. After a cardgame somebody killed him and took his money.
Because her mother worked, Lana lived with other families. First at the Hislops.
But one day Julia, the daughter, became violent and beat Lana. Her mother found out and saw the bruises and took Lana away there and placed her with the Meadows family.
It wasn’t always easy and sometimes they had very little money.
She loved designing clothes and if she hadn’t become a movie star, she would have been a dress designer she said.
Lana enjoyed music and dance and every week on Saturday she went to the movies.
They had moved to L.A. because the climate there was better for her mother.
A friend, Gladys Taylor, offered them a room.
She was discovered in Los Angeles in 1936, sitting at a soda fountain, sipping a coke.
Mr. Wilkerson, publisher of the Hollywood Reporter, saw her and asked her if she would like to be in the movies and give him a call. She asked her mother and called him.
Director Mervyn LeRoy wanted to change her name. Lana got a brainwave and said “Lana”.
And that would be it from then on.
She started with 50 cents a week and her career started.
1937: They Won’t Forget
Her first movie, that gave her the nickname “The Sweater Girl”, a name Lana hated her whole life.
1937: The Great Garrick
1938: The Adventures of Marco Polo
For “The Adventures of Marco Polo” Goldwyn insisted that she enhanced her physical appearance by having her eyebrows shaved off and using artificial ones in their place. After filming had finished Turner was to forever remember the film as her eyebrows never grew back and she had to use false eyebrows for the rest of her life.
1938: Love Finds Andy Hardy – with Mickey Rooney
1938: The Chaser
1938: Four’s a Crowd
1938: Rich Man, Poor Girl – with Robert Young
1938: Dramatic School
1939: Calling Dr. Kildare – with Lionel Barrymoore
1939: These Glamour Girls
1939: Dancing Co-Ed – with Artie Shaw
1940: Two Girls on Broadway
1940: We Who Are Young
When she was 17 she started to date.
Her first love was the playboy and lawyer Greg Bautzer. But he fooled around and when she met bandleader Artie Shaw in 1940 she eloped with him and married him.
The marriage only lasted 4 months, because Lana really didn’t love him. In later interviews she even said that she hated him.
After her divorce she found out she was pregnant, but Artie Shaw didn’t want to do anything with it. So Lana decided to have an abortion. In that time it was very difficult to have a baby on your own and if she had decided to keep the baby, it would have ended her career.
When she was 20 years old she met President Roosevelt. He said he wished he could go with her for a dance.
During World War Two, Turner took to the railroads and toured the country selling war bonds. Her promise, to those that bought these for $50,000 or more from her, was “a sweet kiss”. “And I kept that promise – hundreds of times. I’m told I increased the defence budget by several million dollars”.
In 1942 she met actor and restaurateur Steve Crane. They fell in love and married.
They were happy until it became clear he still wasn’t officially divorced from his former wife.
He tought he was. The marriage was annulled and after he was divorced they married again. But Lana didn’t love him anymore.
She was pregnant again and therefore agreed to marry him again.
But pregnancys were difficult for Lana. She was Rhesus Negative and it basically meant that with her blood she was poisining her baby.
In those days there was not much they could do.
She was fortunate to have a very good doctor.
As soon as Cheryl, her first and only child, was born, she got a lot of blood transfusions.
Those saved her life. Cheryl had to stay in the hospital for 2 months.
Because of this Rhesus negative condition Lana couldn’t complete her pregnancys.
After this birth she got 3 stillborns and had another abortion.
Crane and Lana divorced in 1944.
1941: Ziegfeld Girl – with James Stewart, Judy Garland and Hemy Lamarr
1941: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – with Spencer Tracy
1941: Honky Tonk – with Clark Gable
1942: Johnny Eager – with Robert Taylor
1942: Somewhere I’ll Find You – with Clark Gable
1943: Slightly Dangerous
1944: Marriage Is a Private Affair
She got her own makeup man, Del Armstrong, and he stayed with her for many years.
Lana also did several magazine ads:
In the 1940s the “Max Factor Hollywood pancake make-up” add and the one for “Woodbury cosmetics”.
She also guest starred on many radio shows including “Suspense”, in 1941 on “the Philip Morris PlayHouse show” in the episode “The Devil and Miss Jones” and in 1944 she appeared on “Fifth War Loan Drive” on CBS and on “Orson Welles Almanac”.
In 1943 she was the guest at “Strictly G.I.“. This was one of the filmed broadcasts of the Command Performance radio programs in which various Hollywood stars appeared and performed in accordance with letter requests from American service men stationed around the world. This one was filmed at a live performance at camp Roberts, California. Lana fried a steak, which was brought on stage accompanied by armed guards, since this was a rationed and rare item during the war years. And she swapped quips and banter with Bob Hope.
They made transcriptions of these broadcasts and send them to American posts and camps around the world.
Lana still lived in a house together with her mother and daughter.
But through the years she felt smothered by her mother. She loved her mother dearly, but she wanted to be free.
She asked Greg Bautzer to sell her house, when she was away on a tour to South-America and buy a new apartment for her mother and a smaller house for herself and her daughter.
Between 1946 and 1948 she had brief romances with Howard Hughes and also with Tyrone Power.
Lana said that Tyrone Power was the love of her life and the only man that broke her heart.
The romance only lasted for a couple of months.
After their breakup she discovered she was pregnant and since Tyrone Power didn’t want to be with her she had another abortion.
1945: Keep Your Powder Dry
1945: Week-End at the Waldorf
1946: The Postman Always Rings Twice – with John Garfield
1947: Green Dolphin Street
1947: Cass Timberlane – with Spencer Tracy
Green Dolphin Street and Cass Timberlane were made in the same time and it was difficult for Lana to play these roles, since they were so different from each other. Her hair style was different in these movies and also her accent.
In 1946 she appeared on the radio as “Elizabeth Cotton” in a “Lux Radio Theatre” broadcast of “Honky Tonk“. In 1949 she appeared in the “Lux Radio Theatre” broadcast of “Green Dolphin Street”.
In 1948 she married the millionaire Bob Topping. She didn’t love him at first, but he said she would grow to love him.
This was the first normal wedding ceremony she had.
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 the bride and the 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.
She became pregnant again, but after 6 months she had a stillborn boy and in 1951 she had another stillborn.
The marriage didn’t go very well too. Bob Topping became an alcoholic, beat her and started seeing other women. Then he wanted to divorce her.
In 1952 Bob Topping and Lana divorced.
1948: Homecoming – with Clark Gable
1948: The Three Musketeers – with Gene Kelley
MGM also offered her the role in “Madame Bovary”, but Lana found it a dull and flat version and refused to play it.
MGM then suspended her. Until the movie “A Life Of Her Own”.
1950: A Life of Her Own – with Ray Milland
1951: Mr. Imperium – with Ezio Pinza
Lana didn’t like working with him. He had a lordly manner about him and a terrible breath because of him eating lots of cheese pastries.
1952: The Merry Widow – with Fernando Lamas
By then Lana had lots of problems in her life. She couldn’t take it anymore and tried to commit suicide by taking sleeping pills.
She also sliced her wrists. That is why she wore long gloves or a very wide bracelet in “The Merry Widow”.
The filming of this picture began only a few days after her suicide attempt.
Fortunately her manager sensed what was going on and found her in time.
Then she met Fernando Lamas and did the movie “The Merry Widow” with him.
That got her up on her feet again.
But Fernando was very jealous. And when Lana met Lex Barker later on at her house he became violent. He was replaced for his role in “Latin Lovers” by Ricardo Montalban.
Lex Barker became her lover and she married him in 1953.
They seemed a lovely couple together, but after some time Lex was unfaithful to her.
Lana also was pregnant again and lost the child again. She was devastated.
One day Cheryl, her daughter, confessed to her that Lex had been raping and molesting her for years.
At once Lana told Lex to leave the house.
In 1982 the biography of Lana’s life was released. Called “Lana, the Lady, The Legend, The Truth“.
What struck me when I read it was, that she didn’t mention Lex Barker raping and molesting Cheryl.
I think she probably left it out to protect Cheryl and not hurting her.
It must have been a very difficult time for her and Cheryl.
In her book “Detour, A Hollywood Story” from 1988 Cheryl wrote about what happened to her.
Lana and Lex divorced in 1957.
1952:The Bad and the Beautiful – with Kirk Douglas
1953: Latin Lovers – with Ricardo Montalban
1954: Flame and the Flesh
1954: Betrayed – with Clark Gable
1955: The Prodigal
1955: The Sea Chase – with John Wayne
1955: The Rains of Ranchipur – with Richard Burton
1956: Diane – with Roger Moore
1957: Peyton Place – Oscar nomination
In 1957 she met John Steele. They fell in love.
But after a while a friend told her that John Steele was in fact Johnny Stompanato, the gangster. Lana confronted Johnny with that and he told her that that was true and that he didn’t tell her, because he thought she wouldn’t want anything to do with him then.
Lana said that he was right. But she couldn’t get rid of him.
He started to become violent and beat her and threatened to harm her mother and daughter.
Lana didn’t know what to do. She said to him that it was over, but he dint’t want to accept that and started to control her and follow her everywhere.
One night, the 4th of April 1958, Cheryl heard her mother and Johnny arguing again and she thought Johnny was going to kill her mother. She went to the kitchen, took a knife and went to the room where Johnny and Lana were. When she entered the room she thought she saw Johnny starting to beat her mother again, he turned towards her and she stabbed him. He was dead.
The killing was ultimately deemed a justifiable homicide, but naturally it was a very difficult time for Lana and her daughter Cheryl.
Many questions remained: “what really happened?”
To Eric Root Lana said that she walked in on Cheryl and Johnny and that she became so angry, that she herself killed Johnny.
Cheryl took the blame. Lana told Eric to reveal this after her death, so that Cheryl didn’t have to carry that burden all her life.
So he did in his book, that was released in 1996.
The relationship between Lana and her daughter was always difficult.
Lana was always busy filming and Cheryl was longing for a mother, that would take care of her and would be there for her.
But in those days it was normal for a moviestar to let their children grow up with nannies and grandparents.
The public still loved her though. She managed to get back to acting again and made some more amazing movies.
1958: The Lady Takes a Flyer
1958: Another Time, Another Place – with Sean Connery
1958: Andy Hardy Comes Home – with Mickey Rooney
1959: Imitation of Life – with Juanita Moore
This movie got Lana back on her feet again. The story obviously resembeled a lot of her own life.
At the 22th of March 1959 and on the 27th of Febr. 1966 Lana was the mystery guest in the CBS program “What’s my line?”,
What’s My Line? was a panel game show that originally ran in the United States on the CBS Television Network from 1950 to 1967, with several international versions and subsequent U.S. revivals. The game requires celebrity panelists to question a contestant in order to determine his or her occupation, i.e., “line [of work],” with panelists occasionally being called on to identify a celebrity “mystery guest” with specificity.
Lana was inducted in the Hollywood Walk of Fame on the 8th of Febr. 1960, her birthday!
Then she met the rancher Fred May. She lived on his ranch and they had a idyllic, peaceful life there. She worked in the stables, cleaning manure etc. and kissed her long fingernails goodbye. After the difficult time with Johnny Stompanato she came to life again with the strong reliable help of Fred.
She also rekindled her interest in racing. They often went to the track to see his horses running and she bought 2 horses of her own too.
They married in 1960 and divorced in 1962. They just didn’t get along anymore.
In the years after Lana divorced Lex Barker Cheryl had had all sorts of problems. She ran away, said she wanted to get married, stole things etc. It must have been hard for Cheryl to grow up in an environment with most of the time only her grandmother or a nanny around. And she just needed help badly.
So Lana took advice from friends and send her to the Institute for Living in Hartford, Connecticut. It was a wise decision. After 8 months there, Cheryl began to appreciate her own intelligence and to use her innate abilities. With that her behavior changed. She developed an interest in Stephan’s restaurant business (her father). So she entered the Cornell University hotel and restaurant management school and graduated with straight A ’s. She became one of Stephan’s partners. Later she became a real estate business woman and she also wrote several books.
Lana’s career was exploding again.
1960: Portrait in Black
1961: By Love Possessed
1961: Bachelor in Paradise
1962: Who’s Got the Action?
In 1962 Lana went on a trip to the far east with Bob Hope. She visited the troops overseas on this two-week tour to Japan, Okinawa, Philippines, Guam and Korea.
In 1965 she met movie producer Robert Eaton. He taught her what real lovemaking was she said. They married. 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.
In 1967 she did a 3 week USO handshake tour to Vietnam.
To cheer to American men and women there.
She took presents with her, like polaroid camera’s and cosmetics. They loved it.
1965: Love Has Many Faces
1966: Madame X
She won the Golden Plate for her perfomance. The David di Donatello Award, named after Donatello’s David, is a film award presented each year for cinematic performances and production by L’accademia del Cinema Italiano (ACI) (The Academy of Italian Cinema).
1969: The Big Cube
In 1969 she divorced Robert Eaton.
In 1969 she did a 15 episodes series called “The Survivors“. From the book of Harold Robbins.
In 1969 she met nightclub hypnotist Ronald Pellar, also known as Ronald Dante or Dr. Dante. The couple met in 1969 in a Los Angeles disco 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 in order to help him in an investment; he used the money for other purposes. In addition, she later accused Dante of stealing $100,000 worth of jewelry from her. Dante denied that he stole from Turner and no charges were ever filed against him.
She divorced him in 1972.
From 1969 till 1979 Taylor Pero, author of “Always Lana“, was her secretary, manager and later on also her lover.
In 1971 Lana did a TV movie “The Powerseekers“.
In that period Lana was asked for a theater play. She was very afraid of doing this, but she did it and it was a great success.
Lana couldn’t pass up the role of Ann Stanley, a glamorous forty-year-old divorcee, in “Forty Carats” in 1971. As usual, the show and Lana, were a hit. “Forty Carats” played in numerous cities, including Westbury, Philadelphia, Chicago, Valley Forge and Baltimore. “Ironically,” she said, “Live theater, the medium I had so dreaded, became the new backbone of my working life.”
In 1971 she also met the celebrity hairdresser Eric Root. They became very good friends and later on also lovers. He escorted her on all her trips and was her best friend till she died.
Eric Root wrote a book about his life with Lana called “The private diary of my life with Lana“. It was released in 1996.
Two other plays were the 1975 “The Pleasure Of His Company” with Louis Jourdan and the 1977 “Bell, Book and Candle“, which was a 10 week tour.
And in 1982 the Bob Barry play “Murder Among Friends“. “Murder Among Friends,” was performed at the Hanna Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio with Lana Turner in the cast.
In Oct. 1978 Lana went on a film and lecture tour in the UK. Accompanied by Elizabeth Taylor’s press agent John Springer. First they showed some of her filmclips. Then Lana would enter the stage and John would interview her and afterwards there was time for questions form the public.
In 1979 there also was a TV show called “Bean Sprouts“.
“Bean Sprouts,” a six-part television series about Chinese American children in San Francisco. Produced by the Children’s Television. Lana did tributes to gather money for these children.
In 1980 Lana was in terrible health. She missed performances, her weight was down, she wasn’t eating, but was drinking. She went to a holistic specialist named Dr. Khalsa. Dr. Khalsa said “Miss Turner, you are very ill. Are you willing to give up alcohol in order to get your health back?” Lana said this was happened then: “A light came right straight down into my head, a light from God, and I said to the doctor, “You’ve got a deal”. We shook hands, it was a three-way partnership – God, the doctor and me.”
And since that special moment Lana recovered and became a completely different person from the one she was before. She was more disciplined and a lot less gullible and persuadable.
She was very close to God, accepted her responsibilities, took on the problems she faced.
She loved music and sunshine and was so much more at ease with herself and the world around her.
On the 25th of October 1981 the National Film Society presented Lana with an Artistry in Cinema award.
In 1982-1983 Lana did 6 episodes for the TV series “Falcon Crest“. And in 1985 2 episodes for the TV series “The Love Boat“.
In 1982 Lana’s mother died. She loved her mother dearly.
Also in 1982 the biography of Lana’s life was released. The book was called “Lana, the Lady, The Legend, The Truth” and Lana did several interviews for TV to tell about her book and her life.
In 1982 she did interviews with Bryant Gumbel, Gary Collins, Joan Rivers, Robert Osborne and Phil Donahue. And in 1983 an interview with David Hartman.
Cheryl Crane, Lana’s daughter, also released 2 books about her mother. In 1988 she released the book “Detour: A Hollywood Story” and in 2008 she released the book “Lana: The Memories, The Myths, The Movies“.
In April 1984 Lana went to Egypt with entertainment reporter Robin Leach and best friend Eric Root to finish filming a segment for his syndicated show, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”
She won the Medalla Sitges en Plata de Ley for Best Actress at the Sitges – Catalonian International Film Festival.
1976: Bittersweet Love
1980: Witches’ Brew
In 1994 Lana won the Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award at the San Sebastian International Film Festival
In 1994 Lana was diagnosed with throat cancer. She had been a smoker all her life. She stopped smoking, but it was too late. On the 29th of June 1995 in Culver City, California, Lana Turner died of throat cancer. Her remains were cremated and given to her daughter.
Official Licensing website: https://www.cmgww.com/stars/turner/
“The thing about happiness is that it doesn’t help you to grow; only unhappiness does that. So I’m grateful that my bed of roses was made up equally of blossoms and thorns. I’ve had a privileged, creative, exciting life, and I think that the parts that were less joyous were preparing me, testing me, strengthening me.”
“Some day… some day, I want to go much deeper into the human mind.”
“I’m so gullible. I’m so damn gullible. And I am so sick of me being gullible.”
It’s said in Hollywood that you should always forgive your enemies – because you never know when you’ll have to work with them.””
“Humor has been the balm of my life, but it’s been reserved for those close to me, not part of the public Lana.”
“A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man.”
“If you stay away from parties, you’re called a snob. If you go, you’re an exhibitionist. If you don’t talk, you’re dumb. If you do talk, you’re quarrelsome. Pardon me while I change my nail polish.”
“How does it happen that something that makes so much sense in the moonlight doesn’t make any sense at all in the sunlight?”
“I planned on having one husband and seven children, but it turned out the other way around.”
“Trash is something you get rid of – or disease. I’m not something you get rid of.”
“The truth is, sex doesn’t mean that much to me now. It never did, really. It was romance I wanted, kisses and candlelight, that sort of thing. I never did dig sex very much.”
Dress size: 8
Breast-Waist-Hips: 94-64-91 cm
Shoe: 37-38 (7)
Bra size: 34C
Eye color: green
Heigth: 1.60 mtr.
Weigth: 50 kg