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Portrait of Lana Turner, 1940’s.Turner met Johnny Stompanato during the spring of 1957. After she discovered his ties to the Los Angeles underworld (in particular, his association with gangster Mickey Cohen), she tried to break off the affair out of fear of bad publicity. Stompanato was not easily deterred, however, and over the course of the following year, they carried on a relationship filled with violent arguments, physical abuse, and repeated reconciliations.

Lana and Her Gangster Boyfriend

 Lana Turner’s gangster boyfriend pulled a gun on Sean Connery. It didn’t end well.

In a Beverly Hills mansion, a little girl with waist-length ringlets was tucked into bed at 6 p.m. by her Scottish nanny. Staring at the hand-painted cherubs smiling at her from the ceiling, she longed for a goodnight kiss from Mommy. But Mommy was glamorous Lana Turner, the ultimate blond sweater girl of the ’40s, who had little time for her only child, Cheryl Crane.

Feeling shy and gawky, the dark-haired daughter would sometimes sneak into her mother’s closet “to inhale her essence,” as she puts it now. Whenever she reached out to hug or kiss her perfectly coiffed mom, her arms would be pushed away. “Sweetheart, the hair,” Turner would say. “The lipstick.”

As Turner moved through a succession of movies and husbands, Crane felt powerless to win her love. Not until Good Friday, 1958, was 14-year-old Cheryl finally, and fatally, able to prove her devotion. When Lana’s lover of the moment, a small-time hood named Johnny Stompanato, threatened to kill Lana during an argument, Cheryl grabbed a kitchen knife and waited outside her mother’s bedroom door. Suddenly the door opened. Stompanato came forward as Cheryl rushed in. The blade punctured his abdomen, kidney and aorta. Though the death was ruled a justifiable homicide, the ordeal launched Cheryl on a ruinous slide from defiant behaviour to reform school and a mental institution.

Lana Turner. In the fall of 1957, Stompanato visited Turner in England, where she was filming Another Time, Another Place, co-starring Sean Connery. In her autobiography, Turner said that she arranged for Stompanato’s visit because she was lonely and having a difficult time filming. Their reunion was initially happy, but the two soon began fighting. Stompanato became suspicious when Turner would not allow him to visit the set and, during one fight, he choked her, causing her to miss three weeks of filming.

Lana Turner is one movie star whose off-screen life was a lot more interesting than most of her movies, and she was definitely an exception to the rule at MGM, in that she didn’t need the studio to create a fake image for her. She didn’t need to be groomed or made over—her beautician mother had trained her from childhood how to present herself to bring out the best of her natural beauty, and to use costuming and comportment to hide any rough edges or raw vulnerabilities.

For 20 years, Turner worked hard and played harder, often to the annoyance of the studios that employed her. To regain control, producers formulated movie vehicles for Turner that borrowed the circumstances of the actress’s real life. This is one matter when it comes to art imitating an adult woman’s life, even when that woman’s life encompassed a number of scandalous relationships; it would be another matter when the movies started to imitate Lana Turner’s daughter’s life. By the time Cheryl Crane was 14, and watching her unstable home life reflected back to her in one of her mother’s biggest hit movies, reality and fantasy must have seemed pretty confused. Within weeks, Cheryl was on the cover of every newspaper in town for murdering her mother’s boyfriend—a shocking twist of real life that was certainly stranger than fiction.

By 1940, after her first marriage to bandleader Artie Shaw dissolved, Lana had become such a dedicated party girl that she was nicknamed the Queen of the Nightclubs. This was the peak of a certain kind of Hollywood hot spot—Ciro’s, The Brown Derby, The Coconut Grove—restaurants with full dance floors and nightly entertainment, where to simply show up was to be complicit in a narrative disseminated the next day in newspapers by photographers who roamed the floor or planted themselves by the door. Lana loved to stay out late, to dance and drink and flirt, but she also understood by now what it meant to have your photo in the newspaper every single morning, and she was all too happy to play her part in this show, dressing to the nines and delighting in making entrances.

Lana Turner in a publicity portrait from 1944. Turner said that she and her makeup man, Del Armstrong, called Scotland Yard in order to have Stompanato deported. Stompanato got wind of the plan and showed up on the set with a gun, threatening her and her co-star Sean Connery, whom he warned to keep away from Turner. Connery answered by grabbing the gun out of Stompanato’s hand and twisting his wrist, causing him to run off the set sheepishly. Turner and Armstrong later returned with two Scotland Yard detectives to the rented house where she and Stompanato were staying. The detectives advised Stompanato to leave and escorted him out of the house and also to the airport, where he boarded a plane back to the United States.

Lana Turner’s former home in Beverly Hills where Stompanato was killed in 1958. On the evening of April 4, 1958, after the Oscar telecast which she had attended without him, Stompanato arrived at Turner’s rented house at 730 North Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills. The two began arguing heatedly in the bedroom, during which Stompanato threatened to kill Turner, her daughter, and her mother.

Turner’s love life during this time is a tricky thing to figure out. Everyone she was photographed with, on the clock or off, was rumored to be her new lover. I don’t know who Turner actually had sex with, and I don’t really care. All that matters, I think, is that the idea of her as a maneater was in the culture then, to the extent that Carole Lombard apparently got on the plane that would bring her to her death because she thought her husband couldn’t be trusted to work with Turner while his wife was out of town, and that it persists to this day, because it was the role Turner looked like she was born to play.

If affairs are tough to document, marriages are a matter of public record, and Lana had eight marriages to seven men, nearly all of them marked by some kind of wishful thinking or failure of judgment on Turner’s part. About two years after her split from Artie Shaw, Lana eloped, annulled her marriage with, re-eloped with, and divorced a nobody from nowhere named Steve Crane (who would go on to launch a successful chain of Polynesian restaurants). But she came out of that marriage with the baby she desperately wanted after having been forced to abort Artie Shaw’s child when they split up. Cheryl Crane, Lana’s daughter, would spend much of her childhood raised by governesses and her grandmother—it was a full year before she and her mom were ever alone together—and she’d spend her entire childhood and much of her adulthood meeting new friends of Mommy’s.

She famously said, “My goal was to have one husband and seven children, but it turned out to be the other way around.”

In 1946 after her divorce from Steve Crane, Turner briefly dated Howard Hughes, an affair that lasted for twelve weeks. She was also romantically involved with Tyrone Power for several months, and she considered him to be the love of her life. In her 1982 autobiography, Turner claims to have become pregnant with Power’s child in 1948, but she chose to have an abortion. While on a goodwill trip to Europe and South Africa the same year, Power fell in love with Linda Christian in Rome. Power and Christian were married on January 27, 1949.

Turner was well known inside Hollywood circles for dating often, for changing partners often, and for never shying away from the topic of how many lovers she’d had in her lifetime. However, she claimed that sex was not important to her and that she was more of a romantic:

All those years that my image on the screen as “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. But I never liked being rushed into bed, and I never allowed it. I’d put it off as long as I could and I gave in only when I was in love, or thought I was. It was always the courtship, the cuddling, and the closeness that I cared about, never the act of sex itself—with some exceptions of course. I’m not masquerading as a prude, but I’ve always been portrayed as a sexy woman, and that’s wrong. Sensuous, yes. When I’m involved with someone I care for deeply, I can feel sensual. But that’s a private matter.

By 1956, Turner was out at MGM. When she got an offer to lend her star power to the film adaptation of the hit novel Peyton Place, she wasn’t in the position to turn the part down, because she needed the money. In her autobiography, Lana called the part of Connie, a glamorous yet extremely buttoned-up single mother of a teenage girl in a small town, “a departure.” What she meant by that is that to play the mother of a teenage daughter would be to acknowledge that she was old enough to be the mother of a teenage daughter—that she was, in fact, the mother of a teenage daughter. In her autobiography, Cheryl wrote of her mother’s work in Peyton Place, “I knew why her acting was so good. It wasn’t acting.”

In Peyton Place, Turner would play a woman who fronts as if she’s beyond sex, but she does it only because she’s hiding a secret, reckless romantic past. The parallels to Turner’s real life went beyond the fact that, like Connie, Lana had had a child with a man who she wasn’t destined to be with in the long run. For one thing, on screen Lana’s character is so concerned with appearances that she and her daughter have a falling out over the mother’s false impression that the daughter had risked their reputation. This superficiality was familiar to Cheryl Crane, who grew up knowing how to present herself to dinner guests. When Cheryl saw the movie, and watched her mother look at the actress playing her daughter with disapproval, it was like déjà vu. There’s also the fact that Peyton Place’s plot turns on the rape of a beautiful teenage girl by her crude stepfather, mirroring the abusive nightmare Cheryl lived through with Turner’s fourth husband, Lex Barker.

For years Crane, refused to comment on the grisly past that nearly destroyed her. In 1988 Crane’s released a book which provided a graphic account of the Stompanato killing. It also contains the shocking revelation that between the ages of 10½ and 13, Cheryl was repeatedly raped by her stepfather, movie Tarzan Lex Barker.

John Stompanato (bottom left) during the Pacific War in WWII, with his comrades gathering behind the grave of Pfc. Joseph J. Petillo of Asbury Park, NJ. KIA Okinawa.

Underworld character Johnny Stompanato is pictured here with screen star Lana Turner at a Hollywood nightclub.Lana Turner has been cited as one of the most glamorous film stars of all time, and her reputation as the “sweater girl” rendered her a film icon prior to her establishing herself as a serious actress. In 1951, the Academy of Contemporary Arts named her the “most glamorous woman in the history of international art.” Over the course of her career, Turner’s heightened level of media attention was largely fuelled by her publicized personal life.

Crane is the child of Turner’s brief second marriage to restaurateur Stephen Crane. By the time Cheryl was 10, Turner was on her fourth husband, Barker, who one day lured Cheryl into the sauna, told her it was up to every little girl’s father to teach her about men and exposed himself. Barker then began visiting Cheryl’s room at night, raping her so violently that a doctor said later that she should have had stitches. Finally, when Cheryl grew older and once attempted to fight back, Barker tried to suffocate her with a pillow. Cheryl told her maternal grandmother, who called Turner. Crane chillingly relates how Turner said she held a gun to Barker’s head while he slept, then thought, “Is this bastard worth the rest of my life in prison? The end of my career? Everyone’s life ruined?” When Barker awoke in the morning, Turner ordered him out of the house. They were divorced, but to avoid a scandal, Cheryl says, no criminal action was taken against Barker.

Peyton Place was released in December 1957. It became the second-highest grossing film of 1958, and it was nominated for nine Oscars—and for the first and only time, Lana was included in the nominations. She found out about the honour while she was vacationing in Mexico with Johnny Stompanato, her boyfriend of about a year. Stompanato was a low-level gangster, an associate of Mickey Cohen.

Cheryl Crane, daughter of actress Lana Turner, closeup, seated in custody. Used full page in Life Magazine, April 2 issue — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Beverly Hills, California: Cheryl Crane (left), daughter of Steve Crane and actress Lana Turner, is escorted from the jail here to juvenile hall in Los Angeles by policewoman Margaret Weissberg, April 5th. Cheryl says she knifed Johnny Stompanato, Miss Turner’s gangland boyfriend, to death when he threatened to disfigure the actress. Cheryl will be held in juvenile hall until the inquest, which is expected to take place April 8th. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

In Mexico, the already abusive Stompanato started threatening Lana at gunpoint almost daily. Sometimes he told her he could have her mother and daughter killed. Sometimes he told her that he would kill himself if she managed to leave him. Every time, Lana became a little bit more scared. But she was still determined to figure this out for herself, without asking for help, because, as she put it, “Underlying everything was my shame. I was so ashamed. I didn’t want anybody to know my predicament, how foolish I’d been, how I’d taken him at face value and been completely duped.” This was a woman who was mockingly posited by the international press as an aging sex bomb with terrible taste in men. Her fear of living up to that image kept her in danger.

John Stompanato Jr., was born into an Italian American family in Woodstock, Illinois. His father, John Sr., owned a barber shop and his mother, Carmela, was a seamstress. Both parents were born in Italy but were married in Brooklyn. They had moved to Woodstock in 1916. Stompanato was the youngest of four children: he had two older sisters, Grace and Teresa; and an older brother, Carmine. Six days after his birth, his mother died of peritonitis. Johnny’s father soon married a woman named Verena Freitag.

In 1940, after Stompanato’s freshman year at Woodstock High School, his father sent him to Kemper Military School for boys in Boonville, Missouri. In 1942, he graduated at the age of 17. In 1943, Stompanato joined the U.S. Marines serving with the 1st Service Battalion, 1st Marine Division. He served in the South Pacific theater, in Peleliu and Okinawa, and then served in China. Stompanato left the Corps in March 1946, being discharged in China.

Stompanato met his first wife, Sarah Utish, a Turkish woman, while stationed in Tianjin, China. Stompanato converted to Islam in order to marry her in May 1946. They returned to Woodstock, where they had their first son, John Stompanato III. During this time, Stompanato worked as a bread salesman. However, after his wife walked out on him (she would later remarry and live in Hammond, Illinois), he moved to Hollywood, California in 1947.

Mickey Cohen and Johnny Stompanato in Los Angeles.

After moving to Los Angeles, Stompanato owned and managed “The Myrtlewood Gift Shop” in Westwood. The business sold inexpensive pieces of crude pottery and wood carvings as fine art. Through connections to the LA underworld, he became a bodyguard for gangster Mickey Cohen and as well as an enforcer for his crime family. Stompanato also established himself within Hollywood society. In 1948, Frank Sinatra asked Cohen to tell Stompanato to keep away from Ava Gardner. But the mob boss instead told Sinatra to go back to his wife and children, because he never got between men and their “broads.” In the same year, Stompanato married for a second time, to 33-year-old actress Helen Gilbert. In August 1949, Stompanato testified at a coroner’s inquest into the shotgun slaying of Edward “Neddy” Herbert, an associate of Cohen. Within a year, Gilbert had filed for divorce. She said of Stompanato “[he] had no means. I did what I could to support him.”

In October 1952, Stompanato left Cohen and started dating Helene Stanley, a former 20th Century Fox contract player. By December, he was working as her manager. The following year, she became his third wife; however, they divorced two years later. Throughout the 1950s, he was arrested seven times by the LAPD for various criminal charges ranging from vagrancy to suspicion of robbery.

By 1957, Stompanato was in a relationship with actress Lana Turner (who had split up with her fifth husband Lex Barker). She had also just lost her MGM contract after a series of box office flops. Turner saw the ruggedly handsome Stompanato as someone who could help her through these tough times. In recognition of their relationship, he wore a heavy gold-link bracelet on his wrist with “Lanita” inscribed inside. Turner’s daughter Cheryl Crane described him as:

B-picture good looks… thick set … powerfully built and soft spoken … and talked in short sentences to cover a poor grasp of grammar and spoke in a deep baritone voice. With friends, he seldom smiled or laughed out loud, but seemed always coiled, holding himself in … had watchful hooded eyes that took in more than he wanted anyone to notice …. His wardrobe on a daily basis consisted of roomy, draped slacks, a silver buckled skinny leather belt and lizard shoes.

Their relationship was stormy; it was often punctuated with frequent arguments and fights.

Sean Connery during filming for Diamonds Are Forever in 1971 Author Mieremet, Rob / Anefo – Nationaal Archief.

Beverly Hills Police Sgt. Russell Peterson with the knife that killed Johnny Stompanato. Photograph by Loren Patty / Los Angeles Time.

Beverly Hills Police Officer Joe Head examines the knife that killed Johnny Stompanato. Note that the knife handle has been retouched in white to make it stand out against the background. It’s not visible in the scan, but yes, that is Cheryl Crane’s fingerprint card. Photograph by Delmar Watson / Los Angeles Times

The Stompanato melodrama, which was preceded by months of feuding between Lana and the gangster. On a movie set in England, Stompanato had threatened Turner, prompting Sean Connery to deck him.

In London, co-stars Lana Turner and Sean Connery were filming Another Time, Another Place, and everything seems to be going as planned … until Turner’s gangster boyfriend showed up uninvited on the set.

Wise guys don’t need an invitation to cause trouble, and Turner’s boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato, strolled on the set as if he owned it. Stompanato represented the stereotype of a gangster found in almost every crime movie ever made. Everything about him screamed trouble. And he carried a gun.

Turner’s relationship with Stompanato was very far from perfect, as it often included violence and abuse, but she still decided to invite him to England, though not to the movie set. According to Turner’s autobiography, she faced some difficulties while in London and felt lonely, so she invited Stompanato to join her. It was a decision she would regret.

In 1957, Turner was 36 with four ex-husbands in her rear-view mirror. Stompanato was 32, a former U.S. Marine who was an “enforcer” for Los Angeles crime boss Mickey Cohen. Stompanato had already been arrested multiple times by the L.A. police.

In London, things seemed to be going well enough for them at the beginning, but soon Stompanato’s behaviour switched to gangster mode.

Stompanato was too jealous to stand aside while his girlfriend was on the set filming a movie where she portrayed an American journalist who had a love affair with a BBC war correspondent, played by Sean Connery, so he decided to take matters into his own hands and showed up on the set with a gun in his hand, threatening to kill Connery.

A bad guy, a gun, a beautiful woman, and Connery, must be a scene straight out of a Bond movie, except that Dr. No was years in the future and, even more important, this was real life.  Nonetheless, when Stompanato pointed the gun, Connery grabbed it out of his hands and twisted his wrist. Seconds later he was kicked off the set, and next thing you know, Stompanato was booking the first flight home to the United States.

This was not the end of Turner’s relationship with Stompanato, and the abusive gangster continued threatening her at gunpoint almost every day after she returned from England, often saying that he would kill her daughter and her mother.

A few days before the killing, Turner, sharing a rare confidence, pleaded with her daughter, “I’m afraid of him…you’ve got to help me.” Crane says she doesn’t remember grabbing the knife from the kitchen when she heard the fatal argument. After the stabbing, she says, “it was like I came out of a dream and everything came apart.”

They returned to Los Angeles. John wasn’t happy that Lana didn’t want to take him to the Oscars, but he allowed her to take her daughter instead. Lana didn’t win, but she and Cheryl had an incredible night, dancing and drinking champagne into the wee hours.

Turner’s decision angered Stompanato and made him more violent than ever. About a week after the Academy Awards, he showed up in Turner’s new house where she and her daughter Cheryl recently moved in

Daughter, Cheryl, heard Lana and Johnny arguing and got a knife from the kitchen and stabbed him. Diagram shows path that Cheryl took to the bedroom where she stabbed Johnny.

1958, Los Angeles, California, Cheryl’s Family at Hearing. Los Angeles, California: Steve Crane greets his former mother-in-law, Mrs. Mildred Turner, while his ex-wife, actress Lana Turner, bows her head prior to the closed-door pre-detention hearing of the couple’s daughter, Cheryl Crane, 14. The girl was ordered retained in custody of juvenile authorities until a second hearing, on April 12, in connection with the stabbing-death of Johnny Stompanato. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

On Good Friday, Cheryl was up in her room when she heard Lana and John arguing. “You damn bitch,” Cheryl heard John yell. “You’re not getting rid of me that easy. I’ll cut you up!” She came down to investigate, but Lana told Cheryl to go back to her bedroom. As she walked away, Cheryl could hear John continue to threaten her mother. “Wherever you go, I’ll find you. If someone makes a living with their hands, break their hands. If someone makes a living with her face, destroy her face. I’ll cut you good, baby. You’ll never work again. And don’t think I won’t also get your mother and your kid. I have people to do the job for me—and I’ll watch.”

Cheryl didn’t go back to her bedroom. She ran downstairs, and in the kitchen, she saw, among a bunch of household items that her mother had just bought that day, a brand new kitchen knife. Cheryl had never used a kitchen before, let alone a knife, but she instinctively grabbed it. “Scare him,” she thought. “That’s it. Scare him.”

Cheryl went upstairs and banged on her mother’s bedroom door. She heard John threaten her mother: “[Redacted] you’re dead!” Lana was crying and wailing, begging John to leave. Suddenly the door to the bedroom flew open. Cheryl could see that John was behind her mother, that he had his hands raised like he was about to hit her. Cheryl stepped forward with the knife in her hand, and John moved right into it. She wrote, “For three ghastly heartbeats, our bodies fused.” Their eyes locked, too, and John stared at her as he asked, “My God, Cheryl, what have you done?” He pulled backward off the knife, and still looking straight at Cheryl, fell to the ground. The 14-year-old dropped the knife and ran into her bedroom, where she curled up into a ball and cried. Lana wasn’t sure what had just happened. She saw that John’s sweater was cut, and when she lifted it up, blood started gushing out, killing him immediately.

Lana explained what happened next – in court: “Everything happened so quickly — I did not even see the knife in my daughter’s hand.

“Stompanato stumbled forward, turned around and fell on his back.  He choked his hands on his throat.  I ran to him and lifted up his sweater.  I saw the blood… (and) made a horrible noise in his throat …”

With a distraught movie star mother giving the performance of a lifetime on the witness stand, the jury returned verdict in less than a half hour: justifiable homicide, and the DA decided not to prosecute for murder.

Yet, rumours persisted that Cheryl, a minor, had taken the rap for her mother and THAT Lana had actually stabled Stompanato to death. As the media frenzy ignited-  love letters revealed, secret diaries published, tawdry snapshots traded for money,  Lana and Cheryl’s relationship disintegrated.

There were some mixed reactions concerning the outcome of the case, and over the years many rumours surrounded the murder of Turner’s gangster boyfriend, including one that Turner herself might have killed the mobster.

Due to Turner’s high profile and the fact that the killing involved her teenage daughter, the case quickly became a media sensation, with over one hundred reporters and journalists attending the trial, described by attendees as “near-riotous.” Though Turner and her daughter were exonerated of any wrongdoing, public opinion on the event was varied, with numerous publications intimating that Turner’s testimony at the inquest was a performance; Life magazine published a photo of Turner testifying in court alongside stills of her in court room scenes from three films she had starred in. Stompanato’s family in Illinois sought a wrongful death suit of $750,000 (equivalent to $6,225,779 in 2016) in damages against both Turner and her ex-husband, Steve Crane. The suit was settled out of court for a reported $20,000 in 1962.

Los Angeles, California: Showing the strain, actress Lana Turner appears on the verge of collapse as she testifies at the inquest into the death of Johnny Stompanato, her gangland boyfriend, here, April 11th. Deliberating less than half an hour, the coroner’s jury ruled that Stompanato’s death, at the hands of Cheryl Crane, Lana’s 14-year-old daughter, was “justifiable homicide.” April 11, 1958.

Lana, wearing a tailored gray suit, returns to her chair at the court table after her testimony, followed by her lawyer, Jerry Geisler. She was on the stand for an hour. She recounted her argument with Johnny,when she opened the bedroom door for Cheryl, how they came together so fast that she never saw the blade, and how Johnny grabbed his abdomen, and fell on his back. She went on to describe how she and Dr. McDonald tried in vain to revive him.

During the nightmare that followed, Crane spent three weeks in Juvenile Hall before being made a ward of the court and was released in her grandmother’s custody, as she herself requested. Rebelling, Crane began hanging out at nightclubs and running up speeding tickets. “I wanted everything and I wanted it now,” she says. After 11 months in reform school she returned home to her grandmother only to run away twice. Following the second incident, she was sent to the Institute of Living, an elite sanitarium in Hartford, Conn. Told by her mother—falsely, as it turned out—that the court had extended her wardship by a year, she attempted suicide by smashing her fists through a window. Sedated for weeks afterward, she credits the humour and encouragement of a fellow patient, comic Jonathan Winters, with helping her regain her will to live.

In April 1962, eight months after her 18th birthday, Crane was finally released. She settled in Los Angeles, where she began to mix heavy drinking and sleeping pills. One night she again tried suicide. A friend found her comatose and rushed her to the hospital. “That woke me up,” she says.

Determined to change her life, Crane went to work for her father as a hostess at his Los Angeles restaurant, the Luau. After a few years, including one spent studying at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, Crane rose to become her father’s second-in-command.

This photo was taken when Lana went to see Cheryl in Juvenile Hall. Here she is sitting in the car with her mother, Mildred Frances Cowan. During this time, Mildred stayed with Lana, who was in shock and hysterical, despite sedatives administered by her doctor.

Within a year of the Stompanato tragedy, Lana was back where she belonged, on the big screen not the big house. She starred as a tarnished woman in a lurid tale of tempestuous mother-daughter relationships – the now classic film “Imitation of Life”.

After the murder Lana Turner was in massive debt. Cheryl’s legal bills had averaged $1,000 a day during the whole ordeal, Lana still owed money to MGM, and after being branded the mother of a murderess in the media, she had no idea if anyone would want to cast her again. But Ross Hunter did.

Universal’s producer of lavish melodramas approached Turner about starring in Douglas Sirk’s remake of Imitation of Life, about two single moms, one white and one black, and their respective struggles with their teenage daughters. Hunter was transparent about his interest in the ways in which the material would play on what the public knew about Lana’s real life. To exaggerate them, in this version of the story Lana’s character would be an actress whose career causes her to neglect her daughter—until her daughter becomes involved with the mother’s boyfriend. Lana took the job for the paltry salary of $2,500 a week, but negotiated a then-uncommon deal that would net her a portion of the film’s profits.

Cheryl felt extremely hurt by the ways in which Imitation of Life referenced her real-life mother-daughter troubles, but she went along with the studio’s plan to include her and her supposedly tight bond with Lana in the publicity because she was afraid not to. Imitation of Life became a huge hit, by some reports rescuing a struggling Universal and netting Turner more than $5 million in its first year of release.

Lana would marry three more times over the next 10 years. She’d never have another hit like Imitation of Life, and she’d make her last film in 1980.

In 1968, at a party at actor Wally Cox’s house, Cheryl met model Josh LeRoy. “She took my breath away,” says Crane. Two years later the pair began living together. In 1979 they moved to Hawaii, where they began fixing up houses and eventually prospered in real estate.

Returning to California in 1985, Cheryl Crane decided to tell her story. When she asked her mother’s opinion, Turner, who was divorced from her seventh husband and had completed a stint on Falcon Crest, seemed concerned that she might find herself on the receiving end of another Mommie Dearest. No problem, said Crane. “Mom wasn’t around that much in my life for a Mommie Dearest,” she explained. “She qualifies perhaps for a lonnnng cameo role.”

Despite her fears, Turner spent hours with Crane sharing her memories. When Cheryl opened up about her childhood, Lana was amazed. “Why did no one tell me about the loneliness you felt?” she asked. Talking it through, says Crane, mother and daughter became good friends.

A lifelong heavy smoker, Turner was diagnosed with throat cancer in May 1992. At the urging of her daughter, Turner underwent radiation therapy to treat the cancer, and in February 1993, announced that she was in remission.Despite treatment, the cancer returned in July 1994. In September 1994, she made her final public appearance at the San Sebastián International Film Festival in Spain to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award, and was bound to a wheelchair for much of the event. Turner died nine months later at the age of 74 on June 29, 1995, of complications from the cancer at her home in Century City, Los Angeles, California. Her remains were cremated and scattered in Oahu, Hawaii.

19 Feb 1959, Los Angeles, California, USA. All Together. Hollywood, California: Actress Lana Turner (right) and daughter Cheryl Crane (left) are shown on arrival for the premiere of the movie, Imitation of Life, in which Miss Turner stars, here. Also on hand are novelist Fannie Hurst, upon whose life the film is based, and producer Ross Hunter. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Turner was survived by Cheryl Crane, her only child, and Crane’s life partner Joyce LeRoy, whom she said she accepted “as a second daughter.” They inherited some of Turner’s personal effects and $50,000 in Turner’s will (her estate was estimated in court documents to be worth $1.7 million [$2.9 million in 2016 dollars]) with the majority of her estate being left to Carmen Lopez Cruz, her maid and companion for 45 years and her caregiver during her final illness. Crane challenged the will and Lopez claimed that the majority of the estate was consumed by probate costs, legal fees, and medical expenses.

For her contribution to the motion-picture industry, Turner has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6241 Hollywood Boulevard. On May 24, 1950, Turner left hand and footprints in front of the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

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Lana Turner, Cheryl Crane, and Johnny Stompanato.

Cheryl Crane – Writer – Biography.com

The goddess and the gangster – CBS News

Hollywood Homicide: Lana Turner and the Death of Johnny Stompanato

THE NIGHT LANA TURNER’S DAUGHTER STABBED HER LOVER …

Lana Turner and the murder of Johnny Stompanato

Hollywood Hit: How Lana Turner’s Teen Daughter Iced Johnny …

A Murder Made in Hollywood: The Case of Lana Turner and Johnny …

Lana Turner boyfriend murder…. – RareNewspapers.com


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