Bring back some good or bad memories


February 11, 2024

Vintage Photos of Lana Turner With Her Daughter Cheryl Crane in the 1940s and 1950s

Julia Jean “Lana” Turner (1921–1995) was an American actress. Over a career spanning nearly five decades, she achieved fame as both a pin-up model and a film actress, as well as for her highly publicized personal life. In the mid-1940s, she was one of the highest-paid American actresses and one of MGM’s biggest stars, with her films earning more than $50 million (equivalent to approximately $852 million in 2023) for the studio during her 18-year contract with them. Turner is frequently cited as a popular culture icon of Hollywood glamour and a screen legend of classical Hollywood cinema. She was nominated for numerous awards.

Beyond her on-screen talent, the star is remembered for her various and often tumultuous marriages. Turner was married eight times, including twice to the same man. She married bandleader Artie Shaw in 1940 when she was just 19. The pair divorced shortly after. Her next marriage was to Joseph Stephen Crane in 1942. Crane was an actor who later became an entrepreneur. In any case, the couple wed, only for Turner to discover that her new husband was already married. The marriage was subsequently annulled. Turner then discovered that she was pregnant, and they married once again.

She gave birth to their daughter, Cheryl Crane, on July 25, 1943, before divorcing for the final time. Despite Turner’s fame and status in Hollywood, Crane has gone on to say that her childhood was less than ideal. In her 1988 autobiography Detour she wrote that she was “enthralled” by her parents, “but I lived at a distance, their princess in a tower.”

Cheryl Crane spent much of her childhood alone. She had no siblings or friends. Turner, who was too preoccupied with her flourishing career, put her daughter in the care of nannies and sent her to private school. In a 1988 interview with People, Crane stated that when she would reach out to kiss or hug her mother, she was rebuffed. Turner’s response was “Sweetheart, the hair” and “the lipstick.” Crane longed for Turner’s attentiveness and confessed that she would often go into her mother’s closet when she was gone to “inhale her essence.”

Even so, Crane admits that she is well aware of her privilege. In an interview with the Idyllwild Town Crier, Crane described Hollywood as having a “small town” feel where everybody and everyone knew each other. In her memoir Detour, she recounts stories from her youth which included spending time at MGM studios, partying at Marlon Brando’s home, and of course, the life that came with having a movie star mother. Recapping her early years, Crane stated that overall, “It was wonderful,” but added that it was “a bit lonely, but basically I enjoyed my life.”

Crane grew up witnessing Turner’s numerous dalliances with famous men. As she later put it, “Mother’s first five husbands I don’t really remember because I hadn’t started kindergarten yet.” In 1953, Turner married Lex Barker, an actor known for playing Tarzan in a string of popular films. This was the actress’s fourth marriage and Crane was a flower girl at their wedding. Things, however, quickly went awry. In Detour, she wrote that her new stepfather molested her from the ages of 10 to 13. Crane also revealed that Barker first exposed himself to her in a sauna.

Turner’s next romance was with Johnny Stompanato who was charming, but was also a thug. His claim to fame was being bodyguard to Mickey Cohen, a well-known Los Angeles mobster. Crane and Stompanato actually had a good relationship, until he began to abuse Turner. Turner was unaware that Stompanato had a criminal past. Once she discovered the truth, it was too late; her new beau refused to let her go, no matter how many times she tried to end it. Turner continued to endure acts of violence and threats to her and Crane’s livelihood.

In 1957, Turner starred in Peyton Place. The critically acclaimed film received nine Academy Award nominations and Turner herself was nominated for best actress. Instead of taking Stompanato to the 1958 ceremony, Turner took Crane, an action that threw him over the edge. On April 4 of that year, Turner was determined to end things for good with Stompanato. She informed Crane that she was breaking things off and told her to wait upstairs inside of their Beverly Hills home.

Crane obliged, but heard the pair’s arguing escalate. At one point, Stompanato threatened to mutilate Turner and have her mother and Crane killed. Frightened that Turner’s life was in danger, Slate reports that 14-year-old Crane ran downstairs, grabbed a knife, and plunged it into Stompanato. His last words were reportedly “My God, Cheryl, what have you done?” Stompanato fell to the floor and died.

Stompanato’s murder caused an uproar and Crane was subsequently locked up at a juvenile detention center. Famed columnist Louella Parsons referred to the murder as the “greatest Hollywood tragedy of all.” Many believed that Turner was actually Stompanato’s killer and that Crane had taken the fall for it. However, Crane has confirmed time and time again that she was the one who stabbed Stompanato. As she explained, “You want to protect your mother, I was the only one there and I had to do something.”

Despite being a minor at the time, Crane was facing murder charges and a possible life sentence if convicted. Days after the killing, Turner was called to the stand to discuss the events that unfolded on that fateful night and her relationship with Stompanato. Turner tearfully spoke for 62 minutes. She divulged that Stompanato was a violent man who had threatened her numerous times.

Turner also added that she thought that Crane had only “hit him in the stomach” and didn’t realize that he had been stabbed until it was too late. Ultimately, Turner’s testimony allowed Crane to walk free without a trial; an inquest determined that Stompanato’s death was justifiable homicide. The D.A. decided against charging her with murder.

After her release, her family never spoke of the murder. Crane became a ward of the state and lived with her grandmother. Crane became rebellious. She partied hard and was sent to a reform school. When she was still a teen, Crane attempted to kill herself and was institutionalized at a mental hospital. She was released before her 18th birthday only to begin abusing drugs and again attempt to kill herself. Crane survived and later stated, “That woke me up.” She picked up the pieces and opted to work for her father at his famed Los Angeles restaurant, called Luau.

Cheryl Crane went decades without publicly speaking about Stompanato’s murder. However, in 1988, she decided to release Detour, to give her side of the story and to discuss her life being Turner’s daughter. In the book, she confessed that Stompanato was allegedly sexually abusing her. Nevertheless, Crane stated that writing the memoir brought her and her mother closer. Turner told her that she was “proud” and a “gutsy lady” for publishing the book.

Crane has gone on to write a series of mystery novels, as well as a biography of her mother. She’s also had a successful real estate career and has been with her partner, Joyce “Josh” LeRoy, for several decades. The pair married in 2014. Lana Turner made her last film in 1980. She and Crane remained close until Turner’s death in 1995 from cancer.

(via Grunge)


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