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|Also Known As:||Julia Jean Mildred Frances Turner||Died:||June 29, 1995|
|Born:||February 8, 1920||Cause of Death:||throat cancer|
|Birth Place:||Wallace, Idaho, USA||Profession:||Cast ... actor|
Tucson, AZ, for trying to contract a hit on a rival hypnotist, for which he served three and a half years in prison. Turner didn't secure a divorce from Pellar until 1972.
In the meantime, she had done her first theater work in "Forty Carats" on Broadway, before touring with the production. She returned to TV periodically, landing some guest shots on "The Love Boat" (ABC,1977-1984) and most famously, playing a conniving matron in combat with the show's star, Jane Wyman, in the nighttime soap opera "Falcon Crest" (CBS, 1981-90) during its 1982-83 season. The latter coincided with the publication of her autobiography, Lana: The Lady, The Legend, The Truth, as well as an homage to her by her late-career manager Taylor Pero, Always Lana. In 1988, Cheryl Crane published her own memoir, Detour, in which she claimed she had reconciled with her mother in 1981 and established a friendship at long last.
In 1992, Turner was diagnosed with throat cancer after decades of smoking and began radiation treatments and chemotherapy. The cancer went into remission until 1994, when it recurred and she underwent more radiation therapy. She died on June 29, 1995 in her condominium in Century City. Crane claimed to be at her side, but Turner's longtime housekeeper, Carmen Cruz, refuted that, insisting she made it to the condo only in time to talk to the media. Questions remain as to whether Turner and Crane had established the relationship the latter's book had claimed. In her will, Turner reportedly left her daughter a relatively small sum of money - $50,000 - and her collection of furs, bestowing the greater balance of her estate on Cruz. It was sad ending to a life well-lived, but never a happy one, as the screen goddess had never found and sustained true love or been able to show unrequited love to her only child.wn defense lawyer-to-the-stars, Jerry Geisler, who contacted police. Beverly Hills police chief Clinton Anderson arrived to question Turner personally and said her first words to him were, "Can I take the blame for this horrible thing?"
The next morning and days after, newspapers ran crime scene photos of the dead Stompanato on front pages. Crane was kept in the county's Juvenile Hall until a coroner's inquest had ruled on the case. Mickey Cohen, who paid for Stompanato's body to be shipped back to Illinois and for the subsequent funeral, publicly demanded murder charges against both Turner and Crane and, to embarrass them, released Turner's sometimes steamy letters to the dead man to the press. The inquest convened a week later, media tumult engulfing it, with 120 seats of the 160 in the assigned courtroom claimed by the media, with ABC and CBS radio broadcasting live. Turner's 62-minute testimony, interrupted periodically with bouts of sobbing, recounted the events and also delved into the abusive relationship with Stompanato - the violence she suffered and why she stayed with him to the point where circumstances so escalated. "Mr. Stompanato grabbed my arm, shook me," she testified. "[He] said, as he told me before, no matter what I did or how I tried to get away he would never let me." At a recess, surrounded by the press, she nearly fainted. At the conclusion of the inquest, the jury took less than a half hour to decide Stompanato's death a justifiable homicide; that Crane had acted out of justifiable fear for her and her mother's life. Though the verdict of a coroner's inquest was not the final word on any case, it convinced the district attorney not to pursue charges against Crane. Mickey Cohen expressed outrage at the decision and Turner feared mob reprisals. Stompanato's family in Illinois brought wrongful death suit, seeking $750,000 in damages from Turner and Steve Crane. Turner settled it for $20,000 in 1962. The DA did convene an inquiry to determine whether Turner was a fit mother, and Crane wound up tabbed a "ward of the court" and placed in the care of her grandmother.
As much as institutional Hollywood had already given Turner a pass on the sordid relationship and its violent end, the press proved less forgiving toward her as a mother. Hopper, echoing much of the media verdict - if more pointedly - called her "a hedonist without subtlety preoccupied with her design for living," and declared that "Cheryl isn't the juvenile delinquent; Lana is." Crane's difficulties did not end there. She became, as she later admitted, a "wild kid," getting caught speeding, ending up in a reformatory, which she attempted to escape twice, landing in a mental institution and attempting suicide twice, all before she was 21. She began rebuilding her life with her father, helping to manage his restaurant, and eventually went into real estate.
Cinematic fallout from "the happening" took on the distinct flavor of schadenfreude. The receipts for "Peyton Place" - still playing, with its ominously portentous courtroom scene - boomed again, and Paramount rushed "Another Time, Another Place" out for an early release. Turner attempted to rebound from the tragedy with another role that seemed close-to-home. Universal was remaking the tearjerker "Imitation of Life" (1959), and producer Ross Hunter cast her as a struggling actress who sacrifices her parental responsibilities in her drive to make it big, compromising her relationship with her rebellious teenage daughter (Sandra Dee). With the studio on the rocks at the time, it could muster only $250,000 for the budget, and Turner, in lieu of her usual pay, accepted a percentage of the film's profits. It became the studio's top grosser for the year, wracking up $50 million in revenues, salvaging the studio and earning Turner personally $2 million. Hunter brought her back the next year for "Portrait in Black," a dark potboiler casting her as a scheming, cuckolding murderess, perhaps intended to revive her steam from "Postman" but unable to generate the same intensity, much less chemistry between her and co-star Anthony Quinn.
She found real chemistry, however, with Fred May, a wealthy rancher and member of the family that owned the May Co. department store chain, whom she made her 5th husband in November, seeking stability outside of Hollywood circles. It was not to be, they divorced in 1962, even as her films began to reflect her romantic success. In 1965, she married again, wedding the much younger Robert Eaton, and the next year appeared in her last real cinematic gem, "Madame X" (1966), again for Ross Hunter. Turner played the unsatisfied wife of a diplomat (John Forsyth) who starts an affair with a socialite (Ricardo Montalban), who is accidentally killed while she is with him. Under pressure from her domineering mother-in-law, she fakes her own death, flees the country to avoid a scandal that might sabotage her husband's career, and spirals into a sordid life of alcohol abuse, prostitution and crime. Her character's trial, and its creeping revelations of her true identity and even relationship to her defense attorney, evokes a riveting performance out of Turner, a symbolic, if not final, exclamation point on her career.
She divorced Eaton in 1969 after returning from entertaining U.S. troops in Vietnam and discovering preponderant evidence of his infidelities. She tried her hand at series television on would be a short-lived show, "The Survivors" (ABC, 1969-70), and, true to her lifelong insecurities, she was swept off her feet yet again by the oddest duck in her long roster of husbands, a lounge hypnotist, Ronald Pellar, stage-name Ronald Dante, whom she had met on the rebound in a nightclub. They married in May and, in late October, he simply disappeared out of her life. She wrote him a check for $35,000 for an investment, and a few days later, after Turner had given a speech at a San Francisco charity - and done so drunk, Pellar later claimed - he told her he was going out to get sandwiches and she never saw him again. In 1974, Pellar was later convicted of attempted murder inn
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