Lana Turner, the sweater girl-turned-glamorous star whose career was overshadowed by her many marriages and the killing of a gangster boyfriend by her daughter, has died at 75.
Turner, who disclosed in May 1992 that she had been treated for throat cancer, died Thursday at her Century City home with her daughter, Cheryl Crane, at her side, said police Officer Sonia Monaco."She was doing fine. This was a total shock," Crane told Daily Variety columnist Army Archerd. "She'd completed seven weeks of radiation a short while ago, and it looked like she was fine. She just took a breath and she was gone."
The actress remained a star from the 1940s until the mid-1960s, winning an Academy Award nomination as best actress for "Peyton Place" in 1957 after she left her longtime studio, MGM.
Over the years, she appeared opposite the screen's top leading men in such films as "Johnny Eager" (Robert Taylor), "Honky Tonk" (Clark Gable), "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (John Garfield), "The Bad and the Beautiful" (Kirk Douglas), "The Sea Chase" (John Wayne) and "Cass Timberlane" (Spencer Tracy).
"She was not just beautiful in form, she was beautiful in heart," said veteran comedian Milton Berle, a friend of Turner's. "Lana was a very good, good and fine actress, besides being a glamour girl. She was fun. . . . I for one, with many, many millions, are really going to miss her."
Turner's entrance into movies became part of Hollywood lore. She was discovered at a soda fountain when she was a teenage schoolgirl - though not, as legend had it, at Schwab's drug store.
Her early film appearances earned her the nickname "the Sweater Girl" and a pinup place in many a soldier's locker.
Her love life made even more headlines than her acting career. Turner was married seven times and had many well-publicized romances with such figures as Howard Hughes, Tyrone Power and Fernando Lamas.
One of her love affairs ended in abuse and sensational headlines when hoodlum Johnny Stompanato was killed. He was hitting Turner in her Beverly Hills bedroom on April 5, 1958, when Crane, then 15, rushed in and fatally stabbed him with a carving knife.
The killing was ruled a justifiable homicide on the grounds that the girl believed her mother was in danger.
Julia Jean Mildred Frances Turner was born on Feb. 8, 1920, in Wallace, Idaho. Her father died when she was young, the victim of a robbery-murder.
After living for a time in San Francisco, Turner and her mother moved to Los Angeles in 1936, and the girl enrolled at Hollywood High School. One day she cut her typing class to run across the street to the malt shop. There she had the fateful meeting with William R. Wilkerson, publisher of the trade paper Hollywood Reporter.
"Would you like to be in the movies?" Wilkerson asked.
"I don't know, I'll have to ask my mother," she replied.
The influential Wilkerson called director Mervyn LeRoy, who cast her in "They Won't Forget" as a sensuous Southern girl whose murder leads to a lynching. When Lana (newly named by LeRoy) walked down the town street in a tight sweater, her fortune was made.
She was signed to a contract at MGM, where she played Mickey Rooney's sweetheart in "Love Finds Andy Hardy" and other relatively minor roles. Her string of big movies began in 1941 with "Ziegfeld Girl," "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and "Honky Tonk."