Hollywood Hell: Lana Turner’s Unlucky Love

Hollywood Hell: Lana Turner's Unlucky Love

On the night of April 4, 1958 a juicy, Hollywood script, on a director’s desk stepped off the pages and became, reality. Johnny Stompanato, Lana Turner’s latest lover had been stabbed, to death. The knife-weilding, murderess wasn’t Lana, but her 14-year old daughter, Cheryl Crane. An adolescent killing an underworld, mob boss? How did this happen? First, we look at Lana’s past. She was one of the hottest numbers, in Hollywood. Men were salivating over the silver-screen, siren. Lana had many loves and 8 marriages. In the spring of 1957, love was in the air again, for Lana. She had just divorced Lex Baxter, whom Cheryl reports molested and raped her, while he was with Turner. After a messy, horrible thing like that, one would think they’d take their time before jumping the gun, with a new relationship…but not, Lana Turner. Johnny’s handsome face, exquisite body, and enchanting charm, were no match for the vulnerable, star. She fell fast and hard, for Johnny. Soon, Lana learned Stompanato was an underworld mobster, and that was too much for tabloid-trashed, Lana. She tried to break it off with Stompanato , in fear of a gossip, gang-up. Johnny was NOT stepping away from Lana, gracefully. He fought for her and when I say, “fought” I mean physical abuse and violent arguments. Somehow, they always made up (make-up sex can be great, but NOT worthy of torture!). While Lana was filming on location in England, Turner invited Johnny over because she was “lonely and having a difficult time filming”. Their happy reunion was short-lived. Lana’s make-up artist saw Stompanato choking Lana and called Scotland Yard. He was angry that Turner wasn’t allowing him to visit her, on-set. She was starring with the dashing, Sean Connery and his suspicions, were aroused and when an abuser sees red, watch-out. Stompanato was escorted out of England and caused Lana to miss 3-weeks of work. You would think the two would be over after that, but the recipe for disaster was cooking. Back to April 4, 1958…Stompanato is at Turner’s apartment where she and her daughter, were residing. Johnny and Lana began a furious fight in Lana’s bedroom, where daughter, Cheryl overhears Johnny threatening to kill Lana and Cheryl. Cheryl grabs a large kitchen knife and stands at her mother’s doorway. According to Cheryl, Johnny opens the door and the knife plunges into Johnny’s guts. The mother and daughter, in shock, stared at the bleeding Johnny, dying on her white carpet. What followed was a hailstorm of press. Cheryl was taken to jail and tried for murder. For Stompanato’s death, Crane was made a ward of the State of California and sent to an all-girls boarding school, from which she escaped in 1960. She was captured and then released in 1961. Cheryl now tries to put the whole ordeal behind her. Close to Lana’s death, she is said to have asked Cheryl, “Did I ever tell you, Thank You for saving my life?”.

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4 thoughts on “Hollywood Hell: Lana Turner’s Unlucky Love

    • Cheryl found peace, in life. That closure with her mother, helped. She is still living and gas a life partner. Cheryl appeared on James Ellroy’s : LA: City of Demons, program and have a candid, interview. She really has let it go, but it took so many years! :-/

      • It’s available on Netflix, but unfortunately I think the show was cancelled. He covered the Black Dahlia mystery, his own mother’s killing, and Lana’s ordeal. They were great. He has. A few books out, also. I love his speech, the use of alliteration and retro slang, is captivating!! Hopefully, you can find it!! 🙂

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