Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-10-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

STARRLIGHT Lana Turner
Special to the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by Steve Starr
2008-12-03

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


The golden girl of the movies was having another violent argument with her mobster boyfriend. Before he could beat her up again, her young daughter stabbed him in the stomach with a kitchen knife, leaving the handsome thug to bleed to death on the luxurious pale pink carpet.

Julia Jean Mildred Frances Turner was born Feb. 8, 1921 to John and Mildred Turner in Wallace, Idaho. Her parents loved music, and Julia Turner spent many evenings dancing and curling up with her family near the record player where she developed an appreciation for the arts.

Little Julia adored going to movies. Every weekday she would save a nickel of her lunch money and on Saturday used the 25 cents to see her favorite stars at the local movie palace. She adored fashion plates like Kay Frances and Norma Shearer, and wished that she, too, would someday be drenched head to toe in fabulous gowns and jewels, or maybe even design them herself.

John Turner, working in the mines all day, supplemented his income with late-night card games. One evening, after bragging about planning to buy a tricycle that his beautiful 10-year-old girl had begged him for with his winnings, he was robbed and murdered.

Searching for a better life, mother Mildred and daughter Julia moved to Los Angeles in 1936, and the mother worked in a beauty parlor. One day not long after their arrival, 15-year-old Julia was sitting on a stool at the Top Hat Cafe, across the street from Hollywood High School ( not Schwab's, as legend told it ) having a coke. The publisher of the Hollywood Reporter, W.R. Wilkerson, was sitting there at the same time. Enthralled with her beauty, he introduced himself, gave her his card and instructed her to call his new talent agent, Zeppo Marx of the Marx Brothers.

Soon, Turner was teamed with director Mervyn Leroy, and together they decided to change her name to Lana. She appeared in her first role: the sweet, cute girl wearing a tight sweater who gets murdered in the well-written film They Won't Forget ( 1937 ) . The critics loved her, and she soon became widely known as 'The Sweater Girl.'

When Lana appeared as an Asian in The Adventures of Marco Polo ( 1937 ) , her hair was dyed black. The director insisted her eyebrows be plucked off and painted on black and straight. They never grew back again, and for the rest of her life, Turner had them either drawn on or imitated with individually glued-on hairs. Other films she made include Love Finds Andy Hardy ( 1938 ) with Mickey Rooney, Calling Dr. Kildare ( 1939 ) with Lew Ayres, These Glamour Girls ( 1939 ) , Ziegfeld Girl ( 1940 ) with Judy Garland and Hedy LaMarr, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ( 1940 ) , with Ingrid Bergman and Spencer Tracy.

In 1940, on her 20th birthday, she eloped with bandleader and drummer Artie Shaw ( her co-star in 1939's Dancing Co-Ed ) , who became the first of her seven husbands. She kissed him for the very first time right after their Las Vegas ceremony. The violent union gave way within four months. Two years later the woman now dubbed the 'Nightclub Queen' married the unknown Stephen Crane. That union dissolved with an annulment when it was learned he had not yet been divorced from his first wife. Pregnant Turner, not wishing an illegitimate childbirth, reluctantly remarried Crane for one more year, and they had a daughter, Cheryl Christine. Other husbands included millionaire Bob Topping ( 1948-52 ) , Tarzan actor Lex Barker ( 1953-57 ) , ranch owner Fred May ( 1960-62 ) , merchant Robert Eaton ( 1965-69 ) and nightclub hypnotist Ronald Dante ( 1969-72 ) . All ended in divorce, and Turner's affairs with the film colonies' leading men were legendary.

When Leroy left Warner Bros. for MGM Studios, he took Turner with him and her salary continued to rise. The first thing she did was buy a home for her mother and her to live in. Soon, she was making $1,500 a week. When the United States entered the war, Turner rode the rails selling war bonds, and offered 'a sweet kiss' to anyone who bought $50,000 or more in bonds. Turner told the press, 'I kept that promise hundreds of times. I'm told I increased the defense budget by millions of dollars.'

In 1945, Turner's salary rose to $4,000 per week, and she won a role in a sensational story, The Postman Always Rings Twice ( 1946 ) , which had been adapted from James M. Cain's steamy novel. The author was delighted that Turner was playing the role of Cora—the sensuous, murderous, gorgeous waitress who never gets a spot on her spectacular white designer wardrobe—and she rose to new heights of movie stardom.

In 1948, Turner made her first color appearance on screen in The Three Musketeers, and was a knockout in lavish gowns and jewels. One critic wrote, '...she is a proper goddess.' In 1953, Turner was highly acclaimed again for her performance in a fantastic story about Hollywood, The Bad and The Beautiful, with Kirk Douglas, Gilbert Roland, Dick Powell and Gloria Grahame.

However, there was drama away from the screen as well. Turner's daughter, Cheryl, killed Turner's insanely jealous small-time gangster boyfriend when he threatened to kill her mother April 4, 1958; the famed Jerry Geisler defended her. She was acquitted at the inquest, never going to trial. Later, Turner's sensational, sexually charged letters to her dead lover were stolen from her home and sold to the press. The onslaught of publicity was severe and the courts sent Turner's daughter to live with the actress' mother, believing it was a better environment for her.

Amazingly, Turner's career survived and flourished, and she went on to make Imitation of Life ( 1959 ) , a huge, glossy production with John Gavin and Sandra Dee. Turner's film successes continued through middle age, when she often played the love interest of much younger men. Her final film was Madame X ( 1966 ) , with Ricardo Montalban, John Forsythe, Keir Dullea and Constance Bennett. She continued her career on the stage, and later appeared regularly on television's Falcon Crest.

Turner once stated, 'If I could have foreseen everything that was going to happen to me, all the headlines my life would make, all the people who would pass through my days, I wouldn't have believed a syllable of it.'

After a lifetime of heavy cigarette smoking, Turner died of throat cancer June 29, 1995, in her Century City, Calif., home. Her ashes were given to Cheryl.

Sources:

—The Hollywood Reporter-Star Profiles edited by Marc Wannamaker

—They Had Faces Then by John Springer and Jack D. Hamilton

—The New York Times Directory of the Film

—Lana Turner Web sites

Steve Starr is the author of Picture Perfect-Deco Photo Frames 1926-1946, published by Rizzoli International Publications. A photographer, designer, artist and movie-star historian, he is the owner of Steve Starr Studios.

Visit www.SteveStarrStudios.com or call 773-252-5171.

His new book, STARRLIGHT-Glamorous Latin Movie Stars of Early Hollywood, will be published in 2009.

Photo of Steve Starr in Chicago, Sept. 2, 2007, by Patrick Hipskind


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Red Stars defeat Portland, advance to championship 2019-10-20 - The Chicago Red Stars advance to their first-ever National Women's Soccer League Championship game after they defeated the Portland Thorns 1-0 in a ...


Gay News

Chicago Gourmet attracts hundreds despite weather, Michelin stars awarded 2019-10-01 - Chicago Gourmet Dodging raindrops, hundreds of people attended Bon Appetit Presents Chicago Gourmet ( with the theme "Lights, Camera, Napkin!" ), which ...


Gay News

Red Stars hosting semifinal Oct. 20 2019-10-01 - For the second time in franchise history, the Chicago Red Stars will host a National Women's Soccer League ( NWSL ) semifinal matchup, ...


Gay News

Comic Con dazzles with stars, cosplay 2019-09-03 - Thousands of pop-culture aficionados ( many donning the costumes of their favorite characters ) visited Rosemont's Donald E. Stephens Convention Convention Center on ...


Gay News

PRIDE WEEKEND 2019 Inaugural Pride in the Park features music, drag stars 2019-06-30 - A new celebration was held the day before the Pride parade called Pride in the Park, on June 29. Located on the north ...


Gay News

EVENTS Talking with the stars of 'Heroes & Villains' 2019-04-20 - Heroes & Villains Fan Fest battled its way back in the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont on April 19-21. The Easter ...


Gay News

MOVIES Classic lesbian film stages re-'Bound,'and the stars weigh in 2019-04-17 - The popular 1996 film Bound is a lesbian centered crime thriller written and directed by the Wachowskis in their feature film debut. Jennifer ...


Gay News

Renee Fleming stars in multi Tony winning musical The Light in the Piazza 2019-03-24 - CHICAGO ( March 24, 2019 )—John Berry CBE and Anthony Lilley OBE for Scenario Two are delighted to announce a new production of ...


Gay News

Drag stars display 'Black Girl Magic' at the Metro 2018-07-01 - On June 26, The Vixen—fresh from RuPaul's Drag Race—hosted a sold-out "drag concert" featuring an all star cast of local and nationally acclaimed ...


Gay News

Country music stars send love and support to LGBTQ community 2018-06-08 - New York, NY — June 8, 2018 — GLAAD, the world's largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today applauded country legend Vince Gill for ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.