Lana Turner, pictured below in a publicity still for the 1966 film Madame X in which she starred, was not a singer. Yet, she’s included in the Songs section of my new book. What gives?
Turner, who was born Julia Jean Turner in Wallace, Idaho in 1921 was a Hollywood icon. All those apocryphal Hollywood “discovered in a soda shop” stories lead back to her. She was spotted at the Top Hat Malt Shop on Sunset Boulevard sipping a Coke while skipping a typing class at Hollywood High. The publisher of Hollywood Reporter did the spotting. She was not a singer, but staying with the rules of this book (which I make up as I go along), she is included because of the reference to the star from Idaho in the song “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” by Nina Simone, Natalie Cole, and others. Bonus tenuous connection: Singer Lana Del Ray took the Lana part of her stage name from Lana Turner. Director Mervyn LeRoy assigned the name Lana to Turner, who legally changed her name to match her film persona.
There are more solid Idaho song connections in the book, but I have a section on the more tenuous connections, such as Lana. Here are a couple more
Gary Puckett, lead singer of Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, graduated from Twin Falls High School in 1960. For a couple of years in the late sixties, the group blasted from AM radio antennae all over the country with hits like “Lady Willpower,” “Woman, Woman,” and “Over You.” Their biggest seller was “Young Girl,” which made it to number two on the Billboard Hot 100. They got edged out for Best New Artist in the 1969 Grammy Awards by Jose Feliciano.
Glenn Close, who has Emmys, Tonys, Golden Globes, and several Academy Award nominations probably doesn’t consider her performance as the lead singer of Up with People during the 1965 World Boy Scout Jamboree at Farragut State Park the high point of her career. Still, there you have it.